Call Me Marilyn

I am a platinum blonde.

Not by birth. Certainly not by choice.

(Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t have anything against platinum blonde. It’s more what is has against me…I have neither the skin tone nor the attitude to pull it off.)

Rather, I am platinum as a result of translation. Or lack thereof.

The scariest thing about moving is not leaving one’s home, friends or family. It’s not the idea of a new job or school. It’s not the need to make new friends or favorably impress other parents so that your child can make new friends. It’s not the challenge of the move itself, the daunting task of packing and unpacking. It’s not even the need to find a good caregiver for your children (or dog, depending on the situation).

The scariest thing of moving? Finding a new hair-giver.

No matter what style, length, color, or quality of a woman’s hair, it is sacred. A long mane of thick, shiny, lustrous hair is something that needs cherishing, protecting. It is not something to put in the hands of just any stylist.

I don’t happen to have thick, shiny, lustrous hair. Instead I have ultra-fine, mousey brown (if I would choose to let my hair show its true color), utterly unremarkable hair. Still, I am partial to it and am not interested in parting ways – by over-cutting or over-processing – anytime soon. This means that (a) I highlight my hair once every three months and (b) put my strands in the care of someone reliable who understands that fact as well as is clear on the fact that I do not want to have Annie Lennox’s haircut.

(Again, no offense to Lennox-like haircuts but I have not the nose nor jaw line to pull off a short ‘do).

Searching for a new hair-giver can be challenging enough no matter where you land. However, in Turkey, it is extra-challenging because Turkish women happen to have thick, lustrous, bring-on-the-chemicals resilient hair.

Luckily, a new friend of mine, also an expat, has similarly fine hair and recommended a salon that not only uses fine-hair-friendly products, but does not charge an arm and a leg or itemize and charge for every step of the hair-cutting-coloring process.

(I never did understand the common practice in Russian salons – or is it a global thing? – for charging separately for drying one’s hair. I mean, isn’t it obvious that if you get your hair cut – which also tends to mean washed, as in wet – that you want it dried, i.e. in the same not-wet state in which you entered the salon? Especially in winter?).

So, I booked an appointment and had my hair highlighted in March at the salon my friend recommended. The guy was very nice. The salon was nice. Friendly. Customer-oriented. My stylist listened when I said to just TRIM not BUTCHER my hair. I thought he also listened when I said that I only color my hair once every three months (intended message: “As I am not a natural blonde, please understand that dark roots will grow in and looking like a two-toned skunk is not an appealing look. I.e. blending ability is key).

Somehow that point didn’t take. I ended up a few shades lighter than when I went in. But, hey. He was attentive, skillful, wanted to please and I was sure that the next time we could tweak the color to be more what I need given my parents didn’t gift me with naturally golden hair.

(Although, when I went back for my 6-week haircut and he asked when we would color my hair – the two-tone look already starting by then – perhaps I should have been warned?)

So, finally the 3 months were up and I booked my much-needed highlighting appointment.

(Over the course of the three months, I was consistently mistaken for a Turk, something that I attribute in large part to my dark roots in contrast to the extreme lightness of the rest of my hair…no offense to Turks but there are not that many natural blondes so my obvious non-blondeness increased the chance of my being a native).

At the salon, I explained with grand hand gestures and props (self-explanatory photos of high- and low-lighted hair) what I was looking for. Keywords: blending; lowlights; avoidance of skunk look.

(Maybe I should have been clued in when the hairdresser asked me if I wanted to start the highlights and lowlights an inch down from my scalp…what?!)

Suffice it to say, I am trying out a new hair-giver in three months’ time.

In the meantime? I’d better go brush up on my Turkish.

P.S. The shampoo/head massage almost made the whole platinum blonde thing worthwhile…although even if my hair had turned out okay, I probably couldn’t return to the salon in any case, having humiliated myself by unconsciously repeating the lunch scene from When Harry Met Sally during the massage…

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