Joseantonio’s salon is in his house in Miami in an area that is fairly close to Weston where my in-laws, Harriet and Howard, live. He and I texted and had spoken on the phone to work out a good day and time for me to come over to get my hair extensions. Since my in-laws had invited us over for Passover that Monday, Richard and the kids dropped me off at Joseantonio’s house around 1:00 P.M. and then went to Harriet and Howard’s to help them set up for the Seder.
While they were slaving away so we could celebrate our freedom from slavery, I was getting the heck pampered out of me. Joseantonio showed me the seven sections of hair he would be placing on my head. He had colored them a crazy-gorgeous shade of chestnut and honey, and then curled them until they had that bouncy, messy, just got finished playing a few rounds of beach volley-ball look.
He colored my hair to match the extensions and then gave it a little trim since it had been a couple of months since I had had a haircut, unless you count the times Susana and I each hacked off a few bales. He blew it dry and then showed me how to tease sections of my hair in order to attach the extensions. He began with two small pieces that were to be placed just above the bottom layer of my hair at the nape of my neck. Instantly I had longer hair! It looked so natural and cool I was squealing.
He attached the largest piece underneath the hair at the top of the back of my head. After it was in place, I had hair cascading down below my shoulders. Joseantonio placed the rest of the hair on my head, and was smoothing and spraying it just as Richard came back to pick me up. Richard loved it.
I gave myself whiplash from throwing my head around the rest of that night. I loved the look and feel of my new long hair. At Passover dinner everyone did repeated double-takes every time I walked into the dining room because I looked completely different.
I kept the extensions in for the next two days, pulling my new hair into a ponytail, or securing it to my head with clippies. I took the extensions out after we returned home, washed them gently and scrubbed my own head, but not before making a diagram and putting sticky notes on each extension to correspond to the chart I had made so I’d know where to place each extension.
And then I named her “Lola.”
I didn’t put Lola in for the next two days because I didn’t have time, but I decided I would wear her to my parents’ house that upcoming Saturday night where we were going to celebrate Passover a few days late. Because we were out of town during Passover, and because my brother and brother-in-law could more easily come in from Indiana on a weekend rather than a weekday, we had all been invited for a Seder that was to begin at 5:00 P.M. sharp.
I was so excited to introduce my family to Lola. I took the diagram I had drawn of my head and the numbered extensions into the bathroom with me and got to work.
I laid out the extensions and studied where to put each of them. It was getting hot in the bathroom because I was rushing, for a change, and because I had a flat iron and a curling iron plugged in, each radiating heat. I opened the bathroom window and turned on my little portable fan to cool myself off as I began to section, tease, spray, and attach each section.
Things were going well, especially since it was the first time I was putting the extensions in by myself. But then between the breeze from the open window and the air circulating from the fan a section of the extensions became airborne and then got sucked into my little portable fan. The fan stopped. I screamed, “Lola!”
I unplugged the fan and began clawing the front of the fan off to see what was left of what turned out to be section six of Lola. Luckily she wasn’t mangled beyond recognition and I was easily able to unwind her from the fan blades. I called my mother to tell her we’d be a little late. My brother Paul answered and I explained the hair-extension-stuck-in-the-fan incident. He said he’d tell Mom why we would be a smidge late to the Seder. I heard him laughing as I hung up.
After rescuing section six, I gently brushed, teased, sprayed, and attached her, and then finished clipping in the rest of the sections of Lola. My hair didn’t look nearly as good as when Joseantonio first did it, but it was good enough. I knew it would take some time before I got good at it.
When we walked into my parents’ house my sister Beth burst out laughing while saying, “It looks great!” For some reason I didn’t believe her. My mother said I looked like the actress Stockard Channing when she played “First Lady Abby Bartlett” on the TV series “The West Wing”. Better that than the slutty “Rizzo” from “Grease”, I thought.
I started to wear Lola more frequently and especially liked being able to pull her up into a messy ponytail. I had fun buying several different kinds of “hair hardware”, as my friend Lauren’s husband, Bernie, calls a woman’s stash of clips, barrettes, and other accessories, to accommodate long hair.
One day my friend Dennis called to see if I wanted to get together later that evening to catch up since we hadn’t seen each other in weeks. I was so excited for him to meet Lola. He was picking me up at 6:00, so I decided to start getting ready at 4:00. (If you know me, you know I wasn’t ready on time even though I gave myself two hours.)
I washed and flat-ironed my hair, which had been cut into a layered “bob” by Joseantonio. Then I curled the crap out of Lola by wrapping sections of her around a small-barreled curling wand resulting in bouncy little curls. I must have attached some of Lola’s sections too close to her other sections because some of the combs seemed to overlap here and there, making her look lumpy. Plus, every few minutes I’d hear a snap, crackle, or pop and realized the combs were springing open, so I had to rearrange her a few times to make her look natural. I was getting hot, but remembered not to turn on the fan.
Dennis picked me up and we went to Madame ZuZu’s, a little teahouse nearby owned and operated by Billy Corgan of the band Smashing Pumpkins, and my new favorite place to meet with friends. I loved feeling like some mysterious woman. There I was drinking exotic tea with my male BFF, daintily eating a vegan pastry, feeling quite glam.
Did I mention it was raining that night? In humidity my real hair gets curly and frizzy. Lola is made out of straight hair which tends to straighten out when it gets wet. When I got home I saw myself in the mirror in the front hall and discovered that my “bob” had become a fuzzy ball on top of my head, while Lola had become long, stringy, limp appendages hanging beneath my Jew-fro. Glamorous? I think not.
I have always loved the comedienne Rita Rudner’s line that goes something like, “Women are like female impersonators.” We go through so much when we get ready to go out we are like men starting from scratch. I’m not saying we scratch like men; well, I don’t, anyway.
The next day I found Lola plopped on the bathroom counter looking like a cross between Medusa, an octopus, and Cher. After I took a shower, I washed, conditioned, detangled and dried Lola. I took out my heavy duty Craftsman toolbox-sized make-up kit, tweezed my eyebrows, and applied make-up. I blew dry my hair and plugged in two curling irons and a flat iron so I could curl Lola into perfect spirals while taming my real hair’s frizz. That’s when I realized I might as well just go ahead and be a female impersonator.