“Yeah, but your hair looks great.”
While this affirmation helped my self-esteem, seeing as I spent the better part of an hour on Sunday evening pulling out gray hairs (how long does this method work before hair dye comes into play? When should that bridge be crossed?) and bemoaning my extreme post-natal hair loss (seriously, it does not stop. I’m sure an entire underworld, complete with a mayor and a bustling city square, has taken up residence in the nest in my shower drain). So my hair situation has been depressing at best, what with the balding and the graying.
And especially because I haven’t had any hair products or hair tools since July 25.
July 25, 2014.
The Day I Blew Up My Bathroom.
This is the story of the Explosion of 2014, and The Terrible Pictures That Followed. Would you like to know how to take the worst family pictures of all time and eternity? Gather in, I’ll tell you. Listen closely so you know what steps to take.
1. Have your baby get really sick the night before your photo shoot.
I’m talking waking up screaming at 1:00 am covered in vomit so thick that he can’t open his eyelids, crying for hours on end, a downright miserable kind of sick. This way, he will be pale and limp in the pictures the next day, and you will also be pale and shriveled due to only sleeping for two hours the night before. If you’re looking for pallid, squinting into the blessed light of day pictures, this is a perfect beginning.
2. Plan a 15 hour road trip following your photo shoot.
We planned ours for a family reunion in Colorado. This created plenty of frenzied packing, stressing, and a general sense of urgency around the day that translated really well into the photos.
3. Have out of town family stay at your house the night before the shoot.
This way not only will your sick baby leave you tired, cranky, and in a hurry to make that early morning golden hour of light, but you will also feel an unnecessary duty to make coffee and breakfast for your brother and sister in law and their sweet baby. They won’t be expecting it, they’re much better people than that, but you might as well kill yourself to make it happen. It will make sense later, I promise.
Just kidding, it will never make sense and your family pictures will be terrible.
4. Hire a photographer site unseen because you’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for almost three years and after one sip of champagne you’re tipsy and ready to BID THE CRAP out of that silent charity auction.
It will be three months before we actually manage to take these pictures, but sure, $100 for a photo shoot and an 11×14 print? Here’s my bid number, gents. Just let me know where to pick up my prize. Also, is there a private room where I could use the hand-held breast pump in my purse? Thankssomuch.
5. Wake up before the rest of the family on your photoshoot day and get ready fast.
Don’t worry, you can do a few touch ups before you leave.
6. Try to get yourself, your husband, a 6 month old and 2 year old out the door dressed in their best and beaming with smiling faces. By 8:20 a.m.
7. Leave your make-up on the bathroom counter and your flat iron plugged in.
You’ll need a few touch ups right before you head out to the photo shoot that you barely remember paying for.
8. Is everyone almost ready? Go drink some coffee.
You deserve it. You need it. Put your tired feet up for a quick minute and talk to your sister-in-law about how fun the family reunion is going to be.
9. Startle at the sound of a bomb going off. Wonder what that alarming noise just was.
A shelf that ripped from a wall? A gun shot? A broken water pipe? Everyone needs to slowly lower their coffee mugs and go find the source of the cracking thunder that came from somewhere inside your house.
10. Search the house. Then open your bathroom door. Blink at the carnage.
At first the shrapnel on the floor won’t make sense. Neither will the mist hanging in the hair, choking all of you. It’s ok. You’ll start putting the (literal) pieces together.
That’s part of the flat iron.
And there’s the blow-dryer, cracked in half.
And here’s another piece of the flat iron.
And what’s this?
A slick and lethal piece of metal, blown across the bathroom, etched in gold with the words “Root Booster”.
A tall, thin aerosol can, $50 worth of root boosting magic from my overpriced and snobby salon, BLOWN TO BITS BY THE HEAT FROM MY STRAIGHTENER.
My straightener is strewn into every corner, springs, titanium and cord spread all around my bathroom.
My toiletries bag, packed for our trip to Colorado, packed with at least 5 pounds of shampoo, conditioner, make-up and hygiene products-
has blown over the top of my shower.
Over. The. Top. Of a 6 foot shower door.
Such was the force of this explosion. Weeks later, I would find a tampon on the window sill above my shower. Find scraps of metal plastered to the wall in a film of hair product. Find tiny pieces of make-up brushes and hair spray bottles on the shelf above the towel rack.
So not only was the baby sick and his parents exhausted, not only did our photographer spend two hours calling our son “Sawyer” because we didn’t catch it the first few times and eventually were too embarrassed to correct her, not only did she tell us to let Clara “be Clara” which basically just meant disobey our every command because she knew another grown up was letting her get away with murder, not only did this result in Clara skipping away from us and quite deservedly falling into an ankle deep off-shoot of the Boise river and ruining her dress, NOT ONLY was all of this happening on a Saturday morning right before we drove in a rented car for 15 hours to Montrose, Colorado;
but I was also dealing with a minor case of PTSD.
“That could have killed one our kids,” I sobbed to Sam as we attempted to clean up the mess before we left the house that morning.
“It could have blinded me, or killed one of us, or sliced our necks open!” I could not stop crying, could not stop imagining all the ways my idiotic mistake could have ruined my life. Sam tried to console me (after starting to chastise me before realizing I was doing a fine job of it on my own) and told me to wipe my eyes and get in the car, because we had pictures to take.
Pictures I was forcing him to take, he reminded me.
I haven’t allowed myself to buy any expensive hair product, or replace any of my hair tools since that day, in deep and sincere penance for my stupidity. I used a 4-inch long hotel-sized hair dryer from my guest bathroom. If I needed any heat styling, I stopped by my friends’ or sisters’ houses before I went out, sneaking into their bathrooms to use their straighteners or curlers and hair spray.
I’ve been having a bad hair day since July 25.
Until yesterday. When I finally gave in and bought another flat iron.
Thus, the amazement via internet of what I could actually look like. Thus the approval of the world at large.
And in case you’re wondering, I don’t have any of those family pictures to show you. I can’t blame all of it on the photographer, because most of the blame lies with Sammy being sick and Clara being naughty and Sam being annoyed and me being strung out on fear,
but the pictures were not worth purchasing.
Not even the free one.
So thanks, internet and instagram friends, for the kind words about my hair. Thank you for reminding an irresponsible, graying old lady that with a little bit of heat and product and trapping two kids in a pack n’ play in order to shower and style this head of falling out hair,
I still got it.