April 28th, 2008

Visiting the Twilight Zone

The same person has cut my hair for a few decades now. I call her Mom. (Mostly because she’s my mother.)


I’m just not a salon kind of girl.


Which isn’t to say I haven’t, on occasion, visited salons for various services. The trip is usually worthwhile just for the comedy value. Where else can you hear such calm, objective statements about all your flaws—with (and here’s the important part) an immediate follow-up about how they can be rectified? (Example: “Your eyebrows are too thick. … Want me to fix ’em?”)


So I was a little nervous, but nevertheless ready to laugh, when I headed to a salon very, very early Saturday morning in preparation for a day of bridesmaiding. And, dear reader, I was not disappointed.


I started out getting my hair done. There I learned that my hair was a) tangled; b) fine; c) in need of a hot oil treatment; d) too short. Which is pretty funny to anyone who’s seen my hair (although it’s considerably shorter now (i.e. not waist-length) than it was for a couple of decades. It was even funnier when I realized that the hairdresser thought my bangs were too short because she wanted to put them up with the long part of the hair—and then she took some of the long hair and made ringlets alongside my face, when she totally could have used the already-naturally-ringletty bangs that she had scraped back from my face and shellacked to the everlasting damage of the ozone layer.


Interestingly, though she spent 45 minutes curling and spraying and ratting the long part of my hair into a tower of curls, she determined that the best look for my bangs was pointy and superflat. That took considerable spray, as my hair really doesn’t do flat. Her bangs, however, do. (I was not surprised when she concluded that superflat bangs were really the best look for all the bridesmaids.)


Later I discovered that the hairdresser (who was kind, though perhaps more objective than she absolutely needed to be) had used about two dozen black bobby pins to hold my tangled, fine, damaged, short hair in place. My hair is considerably lighter than black.


But that was good preparation for the makeup lady, who had very, very firm ideas about feminine beauty (and my distance from that ideal). I escaped the false eyelashes by warning her that my skin is pretty sensitive, and often reacts badly to substances (which, given the itchy and watery eyes of the other bridesmaids, was an incredibly clever move on my part). I also escaped the torture device known as an eyelash curler by cringing away from the makeup lady so dramatically (and, I might add, unconsciously), that she calmly set it down and said, “We’ll just skip that too.” She made up for it, though, by jabbing my eyelids rather more violently than necessary as she applied about eight different colors of eyeshadow. And, though I had brought my own eyebrow pencil in case there was any difficulty matching my hair color, I allowed her free rein—after all, she had like a watercolor palette full of colors, and she mixed three of them to get the appropriate eyebrow hue. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be black.


All this, naturally enough, made me think of writing. (Well, not right then. But eventually.)


I am forever reminding my CP that one editor’s or agent’s rejection isn’t really a rejection. It’s just the lack of clickability between a lone individual and a solitary manuscript. (Really, the word “rejection,” which sounds so all-encompassing, shouldn’t even be used in pitching situations. How about, “Aw, man—I got a no-click from that agent I thought was totally clickable!” Doesn’t that sound better?)


Just as the hairstylist believed that the best look for everyone’s bangs was the one she favored for herself, editors may believe that the best manuscript is the one that suits their own tastes. That’s logical, though, isn’t it? Why would they want to spent months or years working on a manuscript that they didn’t enjoy?


The world is a subjective place, filled with eyebrows that some people want to thin and fantasy stories that some editors wish to realismize. The trick is to find the people whose views align with your own, so that your hairstylist really does only trim half an inch when that’s what you ask for, and your editor understands what you’re trying to achieve, and—rather than trying to curlicue hair that should be pulled back and pulling back already curlicued hair—helps you to achieve it… in your own style.

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