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This is a photo of my first gray hair, taken in 1990. (It’s in my bangs, front and center.)  I was 34. I was untroubled by a gray hair. I never thought ahead to the day when I’d want to take a photo of my last un-gray hair.

This is also photographic proof of why you should never wear your glasses in a “portrait” photo: the glasses will go out of style the very next day and then you’re stuck with them (luckily, if I ever need this picture for my permanent record, they do amazing things with PhotoShop these days).

I started to dye my hair in 1996, or 7. After an unfortunate experiment with Honey Blonde, I went with an auburn color that was close to my natural hue to cover the gray.

In 2005 I stopped with the hair dye. This is a photo of me with Winston, who has just had extensive dental surgery, so he was a little pouty for a few days. My gray roots are just starting to peep.

This is a photo taken of me in my backyard earlier this month, with Lickety, one of my feral cats. He’s been one of my Backyard Cats since he was a baby (he showed up with his mother and brothers in the Summer of 2008) and as you can see, he is completely fierce and wild. Savage. Like a miniature tiger. We are all very afraid of him and his ferociousness.

I took a look at this photo and I got a mild case of Capgras syndrome. That’s what happens when people become convinced that someone close to them has been replaced with an identical-looking imposter. I saw a Vivian-looking person in the photo but what was with all that gray hair?

As it happens (and does anything just happen? Isn’t it all part of a plan?) I happened to be reading the New York Times Book Review (which I only read about three times a year) and I saw a photo of the author Mona Simpson:

I have no idea what her new book is about (although I do know that I can’t wait to not read it, being as I am allergic to fiction) but I loved her hair. Not short, but not country-singer long, either; kind of sophisticated but casual. And probably expensive; her brother is Steve Jobs after all and she probably got some Friends and Family stock options on the iPhone and can afford the best hair cut money can buy. You could do a lot worse (and have you seen what most authors look like?? Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, don’t act like I’m not talking about you) than taking hair-cutting tips from Mona Simpson.

I took this picture with me to my local hair salon, the one that I go to twice a year to get my long hair trimmed. I only let them take two inches off each time — I know from bad hair cuts. I’m still not over the hatchet job I got in 1975 when some hair cutter got crazy and layered my whole head when I asked for some feathered bangs. We called it a shag back then, but in truth, it was a mullet.

I discussed this cut carefully with the stylist. “I want it this long,” I said. “I want to ba able to pull it back in a pony tail when I’m not posing for author photos,” I said.

This is what I got:

Now, does this look anything like Mona Simpson?? No wonder Ihate getting my hair cut and I walk around as if I’m trying out for the lead in a Rapunzel skit . The only reason I’m smiling is because I’m wearing my new favorite shirt, which I found in a thrift shop last weekend for one dollar. And because Top Cat is taking my picture and making hootchy-koo sounds while holding the camera with his pinkie fingers raised.

I’m thinking that this is the shirt I will wear for the author photo of my Damn France Book– all I need is a beret and an accordion. Let’s see…the book is going to press in April of 2011 for its Spring 2012 release…

April 2011…that’s seven months from now. Yep. That should be about the right amount of time to get this butcher cut grown out. And don’t think I’m not counting the days.

7 comments to A change in August

  • Rachel

    I understand about hair and haircuts and bad hair days and not trusting the hairdresser, but Vivian, that really is a very nice haircut. Frankly, I am not fond of what I am going to call parentheses hair, those two parts hanging down in front of the shoulders. And while I agree that the new shirt, fabuloso, would be perfect for the author photo…you just might want to consider using the shot with the fierce Lickety, because it just makes my heart sing.

  • carol

    The haircut is awesome!
    You are making the same mistake as so many that go in with the picture and expect to walk out looking just like the photo.
    Mona’s hair is very smooth. If you are willing to put the kind of time into your hair that her stylist for the photo op did for her, you have them same cut.
    Gray hair has s very course texture in general and you will have to use a straightening or smoothing iron each and every time to get the style along with the proper gels and or cremes.
    Chin up, you look great!

  • emily m

    The hair cut is fab. Be glad you have thicker hair than MS so it wont look same. It is, I think, a perfect cut and great length. LOVE that shirt. Ah to have the artist’s eye….

  • A definite case of the hair is always fab on the other side of the fence. My hair would do the picture thing because it’s so darn fine. I would love to have your hair. It looks great! But I know you won’t believe me because that’s just the way it is.

    Lickety looks just like a content baby in your arms. I brought my cat over the ocean to find there is an over population of fisher cats this year. She’s clever and ferocious when she needs to be but I read those things can even climb trees.

  • love the haircut. You are very beautiful

  • I am so happy to see a photo of you! You look wonderful – and the haircut is great.

  • Deborah

    My condolences on your cutter’s remorse, even though your new ‘do is fine. I know the feeling (story of my life).

    I’m with Rachel on using the photo of you & Lickety for the book jacket. It shows off your hair beautifully, but more than that, it shows tenderness and joy. Can’t have too much of that in the world!

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