This has become my Fun Monday post, ladies and gentlemen. When you have time, please read Part One and Part Deux for a complete telling of this story, one of my favorite memories (in spite of the pain, lol).
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Show day arrived and nervously excited J and I headed up Highway 17 to the big city: Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach…the epicenter of the Grand Strand…perhaps better known (IMHO) as The Redneck Riviera. If you’ve visited in recent years, you’ve seen a different place than almost 20 years ago. Now, they’re cleaning up their act; then, well…an inexhaustible (but exhausting) supply of high-rise hotels accessorized with lowbrow low-rises in between, marginal restaurants, fish camp after fish camp (did you even know fish go to camp?), kitshy tourist destinations (i.e. "The Gay Dolphin"), and more tee shirt shops and tattoo parlors than you could visit in a lifetime.
This should have been a clue as to how the day might progress. Sadly, my eyes were blinded to the "what-ifs" and ALL I could see was a means to have my hair permed……..for FREE!
A hair show like this takes place in a hotel ballroom. Perhaps two dozen women joined J and me in this hair-venture, and all of us were palpably excited about our upcoming role in this production. There were styling stations set up and the ballroom was loosely transformed into a beauty salon.
A frenzied pace marked the stylists who, with limited time, had to wave their magic scissors to produce styles and services for their
victims models that would cause the stylists attending the show to want to buy EVERY product Matrix had to offer. There was an energy, a static charge to the air, as we eagerly awaited our turn for the stylists to have their way with our soon-to-be model-y manes.
Perhaps this is a good place to point out we were most certainly NOT customers; our preferences didn’t even register on their radar. Even though we had our own personal agendas (cool hair cuts, free products and modeling debuts), their agenda was the one that counted.
My treatment began with wetting (not washing) my hair and then beginning the perm roll-up. They used 972 perm rods on my hair; this might be a slight exaggeration, but it seemed like they rolled only 20 strands of hair per rod. As all of you poor souls know (those of you who’ve had a perm), the next step is applying the chemicals and waiting for them to process. This should take no more than 30 minutes, right?
Hmmmmm, I wonder what happens if it processes for close to an hour?
As mentioned earlier, the show stylists were moving quickly, cutting, curling, coloring and a lot of other things that don’t begin with "c". They "got" to you when they "got" to you. Because I knew I had processed for quite a while, I finally asked someone, who with a look of horror sent me to the hotel bathroom for a rinse. Did you get that? Look of horror…hotel bathroom. I STILL was naive about what was going on.
I get to the bathroom, the show attendants there offered the encouraging comments, "You should’ve rinsed long before now…" and I began to worry a bit. I stuck my head in the sink as two staffers worked quickly to unroll my hair…they rinsed and rinsed and rinsed, but you’re limited in a small sink meant for washing hands, not heads.
I looked up, and ignorantly pleased, saw a wet curly mop. Lots of wet curls.
Next, it was time for my "temporary" color. At the time, Matrix had a color product called "Prism"; it was supposed to wash out in 6-8 shampoos. I was excited about this part, because I had never before colored or highlighted my hair. As I mentioned in "Part Deux", they wanted to color my hair red (I do actually have natural auburn highlights), but in response to my reluctance, they conceded a color mix that sounded like blond highlights. Do you remember me mentioning above THEIR agenda? Golden Copper Shimmer or Honeyed Chestnut probably sounds "blond" ONLY to someone who’s looking for it.
After color processing a reasonable amount of time, I was sent back to the bathroom sinks. Again, I saw a million curls, but wet, it was difficult to see the color change. The next step was the most anticipated one–having my hair s t y l e d!! I couldn’t wait!
It was a simple blow dry, head turned upside down, diffuser intact, so as not to straighten the curls. Believe me, there WAS no way to straighten those suckers–they couldn’t even get a comb or brush through my hair, so it was styled by fingertips. There weren’t large mirrors in front of the styling stations, so the only time I saw myself was in the hotel bathroom. I was positively giddy with seeing the end result of these ultra professionals who were transforming me into a M O D E L!
Please laugh right now, I just did.
The penultimate and ultimate steps in show preparation were make up and wardrobe. The show was to take place on a stage and runway, so yes, they applied
clown callgirl worthy stage make up. It was heavy-handed and anything but natural, but since all the women in the show were painted similarly, misery was lovin’ company.
The multiple processes they used on my hair meant I was one of the models who took the longest to complete. All morning long I had watched girl after girl complete their treatment, and then be given the cutest outfits. Several of them advertised Matrix products; and remember, this was the late 80s, so think Madonna, aka Material Girl, and Flashdance, ripped, oversized sweatshirts. I bet there were even some "costumes" with legwarmers, but I don’t remember now…most of the day is a repressed blur.
And then I get my "wardrobe"…my "outfit"…my costume. Did someone forget to tell me it was Halloween at the Playboy Mansion??? My balloon burst and my spirit sank and I realized I was nothing more than a pawn in a game that had already been won by my opponent–who had an agenda, that was NOT in accord with mine. And I think right then and there, any sense of fashion and common sense I had was rendered a deafening blow from all the chemicals that had been applied to my head and apparently osmosised into my brain.
My "wardrobe" was evening wear. At the time, I was a size two, about 110 pounds on a close to 5′ 5" frame. The camisole top and skirt were a size 8 or 10. The skirt should’ve rested at my waist, but it dropped to what today would be considered "normal" lowrise; it felt WRONG then. The camisole just barely covered the waistband, and if I had raised my arms, my mid-drift would’ve been exposed. Again, 1988, this was NOT yet the norm it is today. I slipped the camisole over my head and I was HORRIFIED! I COULDN’T GO OUT IN PUBLIC LOOKING LIKE A HOOKER! I could’ve had Vicki’s Double D’s and STILL had room to spare!
I wanted to bolt and run, but several things kept me tied to the venue: 1) J said she’d kill me if I left; 2) we signed a contract that stated in exchange for services and products, we’d participate in the show; if not, we’d be liable for the full cost of the services rendered; 3) I was plain stupid.
The CRAZY thing is EVERYONE was
lying through their mealy teeth telling me how GREAT I looked! I had gone to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I did NOT recognize the scary, skanky lady staring back at me. Although it felt much like a case of "The Emperor”s New Clothes", I was realistic enough not to buy the press.
In the end, I
caved complied. The rest of the day was a blur. I vaguely remember being on stage, sitting in an elevated chair, under the illumination and heat of a spot light. A stylist talked about the various processes used to create my style (every time I use that word, I feel like a liar), and then I had to walk the runway, strolling among the show attendees, letting them get an up-close-and-personal look. With every fiber in my being, I prayed that my top would not slip down (I had pulled it down in back as far as I could before stepping onto the stage). I am rather certain as the audience members looked at the tag on my wrist (used to identify all the colors and processes used on me), their fast and furious note-taking was NOT to record an application to repeat on their esteemed customers–they were surreptitiously recording a cosmetologial game plan to execute on their worst enemies!
Once I left the stage, we waited around for everyone else to finish, and then we got our goodie bag of treats. THIS, my friends, was a life-long-lesson-learned in "you get what you pay for"…"if it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true". I never have taken this kind of bait again.
Tad’s response was memorable when I got home. This was pre-cell phone, so I couldn’t call him to warn him in advance. Remember, we had been married about six months. I walk in the front door where he’s anxiously waiting to see me, and, with jaw dropped to his knees, he said in a somewhat sympathetic, pained-for-me voice, "Why did you let them do that to you?" I think I mumbled something like "How was I supposed to know…" and flew up the stairs to my bathroom, where I immediately got in the shower and shampooed my hair 6-8 times. The water draining in the tub was orange…I was hopeful until I got out and began drying my hair. 1) In spite of using conditioner, I still could not get a brush through it; 2) as I examined my scalp, there were multiple burns on it (the effects of which lasted for
y e a r s!); 3) the color was NOT temporary, it lasted for weeks, I think months, even. I guess because my hair was so porous from the perm chemicals, it absorbed every bit of color applied. The color was wretched…it was a rusty, nasty, never-occurring- in-nature orange, and NO ONE in their right mind would EVER choose it!
So there you have it. My WORST hair story EVER! Definitely NOT my ONLY bad hair day, but it was a "day" that lasted for months. And I know you’ll NEVER believe me, but this was NOT what I had in mind when I suggested this week’s theme for Fun Monday, lol. I honestly intended to write this Friday, but it took on a life of its own and morphed into the Energizer Bunny of blog posts…it just kept going and going…
I’m sorry, please forgive me.
I know you’re only interested in these. So, here…let me upload them for you. But be kind to me… remember, I was scalp- and ego-wounded in the making of these pictures.