Friday, April 08, 2005

Bewigged, Bothered and Bewildered

Well, really not bothered or bewildered. But I have pretty much abandoned hats and scarves in public and mostly wear my wig. It turns out that a wig is like most other pieces of clothing. It takes a little getting used to (and like a toddler taking off her shoes at every opportunity, I used to take it off immediately upon getting home.) And that once I did get used to it, I pretty much don't think about it that much. Now I can wear it for hours. Although I still don't wear it much around the house but that's only because I'm always asking Bob, "Is it hot in here or is it just me?" and it's easy to cool myself down a bit by going bare-headed.

When I was a teenager, back in the 70's, my mother had a wig. Wigs were big at that time. She had a styrofoam head and the wig looked a lot like her regular hair. The idea was that on bad hair days she could wear the wig. My mother, like many women her age, got her hair done once a week at the beauty parlor, a rather boring place that stank of the solution used for permanents. In the sixties and early seventies, I had to go with her. We went every Saturday morning. It was full of sixties looking art of women with swoopy hairstyles but most of the women there were doing the shampoo, set and comb out. The beauty salon my mother frequented (she had a standing appointment) was actually in a department store called McAlpins. That was back when department stores had appliances and books, stationary, cards, luggage and a restaurant where ladies who lunched could get soup and a sandwich. I was allowed, while my mother had her appointment, to go watch cartoons in the appliance department on the televisions. For my mother, the problem with wearing a wig to work on, say, a Wednesday, was that is so crushed her hair that she had to wear it Thursday and Friday, too. She wore it a few times and then it mostly sat on its blockhead in her closet, where on the rare occasion I would open her closet door, it would weird me out.

My two wigs also sit on styrofoam heads with the same sort of abstract features. I keep them in my office because the only place to keep them in my bedroom is on my dresser, where they still weird me out. (They're reflected in the mirror so if I glance up from reading there is a brief instant where there are four heads on the dresser. And if I've taken off my glasses, say, because it's the middle of the night and I'm going to the bathroom, they can be particularly disconcerting.)

I really like one of my wigs. It has straight hair, something I've never had in my life. (My sister and my mother straightened my hair in the eighth grade with something called a Toni home straightening kit--straightening hair by actually giving me a permanent without rollers--but my hair never quite straightened. It came fairly close, but it also fried. I didn't care, I was so glad.) I can't really duplicate the style of the wig with my own hair, at least not without paying enormous amounts of money. I love how easy the wig is. I pull it onto my head like a bathing cap, fluff the hair a bit with my fingers, and I have a rather expensive haircut, instantly. And no gray. I keep saying I'm going to wear it even when my hair grows back in but I suspect wearing a wig with hair is a different prospect than wearing it without.

I'm told that I would be surprised if I knew how many people actually wore wigs. Besides Cher. I find myself looking at people that a wig? But the only place I've ever been sure someone was wearing a wig is either at the wig store or at the oncology office. The only reason people can tell I'm wearing a wig, I'm told, is because they know I have no hair. I still have eyebrows. Thin ones, but eyebrows. The nice thing about a wig is that I can pass. You know, for someone not from Planet Cancer.

I should have the equivalent of a crew cut by September. Until then, I'll have straight hair.


Blogger Stephanie said...

I am wearing my wig out daily and it is amazing how used to it I am getting. The funny thing is I am also looking around to see if anyone is wearing a wig. I haven't found anyone yet or so I think.

April 08, 2005 8:56 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Wow, sometimes I think we are the same person, Maureen. When my mother stopped driving (that is, the second after I got my license) I used to take her to her weekly beauty parlor appointment. Same middle aged ladies, same reek of solution. The beauty shop woman was literally itching to get her hands on my hair (which, like yours, was unfashionably curly). She only did once, before my junior prom, and pretty much shellacked it into place. It took two or three days to get it to feel like hair again, and I pretty much resigned myself to having fierce attack hair.

The possibility of changing one's hair as one does shoes is intriguing; since i still haven't learned to keep my shoes on when I enter the house, I'd probably "snatch myself bald," in my Grandma's picturesque phrase.

April 08, 2005 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Geoffrey A. Landis said...

I think you'll look really cool in a crewcut! Get some black leather to go with it-- oh, and some cool shades-- you can be cyberpunk Maureen!

Actually, instead of a wig, have you considered going out bald, but with tattoos on your scalp? Wouldn't have to be real tattoos, you could do the temporary kind.

April 09, 2005 10:54 AM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Umm, hadn't thought about tattoos, but if I was going to get a real tattoo, the scalp would be a great place. Once my hair grew back, I could have or not have a visible tattoo as I pleased.

April 09, 2005 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a hoot, I was just thinking the other day about how I'd have to go to McAlpins every weekend and sit in the TV dept while Grandma had her hair done. It seemed like it took most of the day. Dare I wander back into the salon itself, it was "attack of the gray hairs". Funny about memories.
I vote for the tattoo, get with one of the drug companies and advertise Minoxidil. A little added extra income is always nice.

April 10, 2005 8:15 AM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Bill, you are wicked. Minoxidil. On the other hand, with Adam in college, the extra income wouldn't hurt...

Oh, and call your mom, she got another dog.

April 10, 2005 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jarmellia wears a wig on "bad hair days". Bad hair days occur any time her head sweats some and she losses the curl before it is time to go to the beauty shop. In between bad hair days it sits on one of those same styrofoam heads on top of chest of drawers causing all sorts of comments from our smallest niece.

April 10, 2005 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I'll help you with the tattoo. Something like this:

April 11, 2005 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Oops! That last bit got truncated. Add "ology.png" to the end of the address.

April 11, 2005 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

We're too late, someone already did it:

April 11, 2005 12:42 PM  
Blogger David Moles said...

I still kick off my shoes as soon as I come in the house. Luckily I can blame Japan, but I'm sure it's really my inner toddler.

April 11, 2005 7:00 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

Regarding how many people wear wigs: I've heard that lots of women wear hair extensions, but that's somewhat different. And of course, there are lots of balding men who are visibly wearing toupees.

Regarding a scalp tattoo: supposedly in ancient times, if someone wanted to send a secret message, they'd shave a slave's head, tattoo the message on his scalp, and send him off once his hair had grown back. Obviously this technique is useful only if urgency isn't a major factor.

April 12, 2005 7:55 PM  
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March 24, 2009 1:37 AM  
Blogger Earl said...

Hi Maureen! My wife also keeps other people guessing if she's wearing wigs or not. Perhaps it's because she owns a set of human hair wigs, so they're not as shiny as the ones made with synthetic materials. Most people get it wrong, though. She just knows how to take care of her hair.

January 28, 2011 2:58 AM  

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