Thursday, February 17, 2005

Alternate Maureen

I can't remember when I first started seeing articles about Cindy Sherman but I was living in New York. She's a photographer who creates little photographic fragments of narrative using herself as a model with props, make-up and wigs. Her early images often trade on stock figures but her later images become less tied to 'the bad girl' or 'the jaded woman in her forties' or 'the bird in the gilded cage.' In my adventures with wigs, I have been thinking lately about Cindy Sherman and her costumes and her wigs and her pots of paint.

Yesterday I went shopping, wearing my new, favorite wig. I could never have the haircut that I have with this wig because the wig is straight and my hair is not. Kristi, who usually cuts my own unruly hair every three or four months or so, trimmed the wig for me and the cut is the kind that in someone's hair would need some systematic maintenance. It is precise and would grow out easily. I am not much into systematic maintenance. But the result is sleek and attractive and since wigs don't grow out, it will remain that way. Since the wig does not look like a wig, the result signals that I am a person who spends a serious amount of money on hair up-keep. And oddly enough, in Nordstrom's department, I attracted the sales attention of a woman who is, well, high maintenance.

I bought a jacket and pants, and the sales girl promised to call me when they 'got something new in I'd like.' I bought some shoes at another store (which I genuinely needed). They are all an 'outfit' I can wear this Saturday when I teach. (Cleveland State hosts a series of weekend workshops called Imagination II and I'm team teaching one of them.) I was emboldened by thinking of Cindy Sherman, of constructing a slightly different version of myself. In make-up, expensive clothes and the wig, Bob and I went and got a bite to eat last night and then went to Borders. I was looking at cookbooks when he found what he wanted and came to find me, and he walked past me before he realized it was me.

It made us both laugh.

So it's not as if you wouldn't recognize me but scanning a crowd for me, you might glance past the first time. It's like alternate reality. It's the Alternate Maureen.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

"I was looking at cookbooks when he found what he wanted and came to find me, and he walked past me before he realized it was me."You mean you didn't whip off your wig and yell, "Hey, bozo"?

February 17, 2005 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Pat Cadigan said...

I started wearing hair extensions in late 1996. At first, I really only wanted to cover thinning hair, but then I really got into the whole hair-as-fashion-accessory thing and decided to get really wild with it.

Two of my most-asked questions:

1)Is that yours?

My answer: "Well, you don't think I stole it, did you? I've got a receipt."

2)Is that real?

My answer: "Yes, it is--you're not just imagining it."

The roots--still somewhat dark, next to my current shade of platinum--of these particular responses come from an episode of I Love Lucy.

Small boy: Is that *real* red?
Lucy: "That's what it said on the bottle."

Get yourself a hot-pink disco queen number or a headful of siren-platinum curls and watch as men throw themselves at your feet, begging you to hurt them. It'll really make your day. Trust me. I'm the woman who knows.

February 21, 2005 6:39 AM  
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