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My View: Obsession with hair has evolved over the years

By Janice Schlau

“Only her hairdresser knows for sure,” boasted a familiar slogan in an old television commercial. It implied much more, I feel, than trying to persuade women to conceal their gray.

Style-conscious housewives took the clandestine, economical route when attempting to compete with the allure of movie screen actresses such as Tallulah Bankhead or Loretta Young.

My late great-aunt’s provocative career as a buxom-blonde, successful cocktail waitress in prominent Buffalo nightclubs prompted Mom, a stunning brunette, to strip her hair and go for the Jayne Mansfield look. I can assure you Dad’s eyes never wandered after that dramatic transition.

Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the bleach bottle, I guess. In high school when I returned from the beauty parlor after having my hair frosted, Mom welcomed me to the club. The time clock of evolving coiffures continued to click, however. In the 1960s, Vidal Sassoon made an astounding declaration by presenting the geometric design in women’s haircuts, the “Color Me Barbra” mystique.

With that popular image in mind, my besty and I headed to Toronto for an appointment at Sassoon’s to attempt to capture some of that sophisticated switch. The salon artist designated to my metamorphosis desired my cooperation by requesting I remain in my chair until my hair air-dried naturally. Meanwhile, a “Twiggy” tall blonde in the next station, who endured a similar process, rose up to assess the work, then promptly collapsed flat on the floor. Apparently the loss of 3 feet of silken tresses took her breath away.

Babcia’s routine was much simpler and less invasive. Nanny gave herself a home perm once a month, then applied a Roux Fanci-Full Rinse, which eventually faded into the sunset.

Alternately, following the gospel of Rula Lenska, Babcia religiously applied a conditioning treatment that helped her hair maintain a magnificent lustrous appearance, which astounded her colleagues on the church board, helped mesmerize the women within her card party club and  tantalized the butcher at the Broadway Market, no doubt.

This product remains today as a cure-all for dried leather accessories, an emollient for your pooch’s paw pads and a miracle makeover for those nasty scratches on your sideboard!

Remaining with a competent stylist beats salon-hopping. He or she knows your time constraints, your color preferences, if you take cream in your coffee and the last time you made a good confession.

Recently I veered off-track for a session with an announced master cutter. The appointment had to be scheduled at least one month out, which made me nervous at my age and circumstance. After a brief consultation and scolding regarding the condition of my hair by “Edward Scissorhands,” I was whisked to another chair for a shampoo and treatment to calm down the hairs in question.

I admit, I enjoyed the music and the personal water bottle gifted to me by a dead-ringer for Adele, which reminded me, alongside a coffee table rife with magazines sporting couture inappropriate for a woman exercising the streets of a small, conservative village on the outskirts of Buffalo, that I seriously need to address my appearance, which in no way resembles that demure 17-year-old who saved baby-sitting revenues for a bleach job.

An associate of mine disclosed to me that he’s on a routine schedule, every two weeks, going for a trim. That is serendipity. I wish life was that simple.

Janice Schlau, who formerly owned Prosit restaurant in Williamsville, now has a stationary food truck offering Polish dishes.
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