Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rainbow Brite


I work in a fairly conservative office. Being that it is a company in service to the financial industry, there are occasional client and potential client walk throughs, requiring that we maintain a professional appearance. Even so the prescribed dress code is "Business Casual" which is loosely translates to no sweats, booty shorts or other hoochie-momma outfits. Unless you get your wardrobe by shopping the racks backstage at a VH1 reality show, it's a pretty easy thing to conform to. But buried within that last statement, lies my problem. I am a poor conformist.


When I was sixteen, I was infatuated with my own rebelliousness. If you asked me who my heroes were, I was likely to tick off a long list of rock stars and tortured artists. I wanted to be like them. Not in the sense that I had any real musical or artistic talent, but I saw myself as a creative soul locked in a gray bourgeoisie box of suburban sameness. As such, I spent a lot of time pondering my emotional state and complaining about my "stifled creativity". In reality, I was really just a brat and a lazy student and I wanted to blame my lack of success in school on the oppression of the man. So I adopted a tough chick persona, wore outrageous clothes and too much makeup and got into the alternative music scene.


It was around this time that my mother, frustrated with my inability to focus on school work and by my mounting trips to the Principal's office and subsequent suspensions, decided that learning a trade might be the best course of action for me. When pressed for what I might want to study, I came up with three things - dog grooming, interior design and hairdressing. After lengthy deliberation and a consult with an aunt who had pursued interior design and told me of how cutthroat and catty she found her coworkers to be, I settled on hairdressing. Little did I know that cutthroat and catty was invented by hairdressers.

Hairdressing afforded me the opportunity to experiment with my hair and gave me an environment where outrageous clothes and makeup were embraced and encouraged. What it did not provide me with was benefits. No medical, no life insurance, no dental, no nothing. After a couple of years in hairdressing, I left it; partially due to the lack of benefits and partially from having sufficiently scratched the creative itch. Much to my surprise and the surprise of those around me, I ended up going corporate. Thanks to my mother's long tenure with a large NY based bank, I got an interview and managed to land an entry level job in Customer Service. This job gave me benefits, paid for school and gave me a sense of security that I was not aware that I had been missing.

The biggest adjustment for me in going from creative to corporate was that I was going to have to do a 180 degree turn wardrobe-wise. I bought a few things and borrowed things from my mother and before I knew it, I had a nice wardrobe of conservative pieces that mixed, matched and got me through a workweek. I was as contented as I had ever been at a job, but somewhere deep inside, the diva was raging. She screamed at me when I went to bed at 9:30 and she belittled me as I purchased khaki pants in Macy's. She was unsatisfied and boiling under the surface. Until one day, I found a way to quiet her.

I decided that I was going to have a secret streak of blond hair, buried at the nape of my neck. I could dye this secret streak any and every color in the rainbow and no one would be the wiser. I could go to work in a conservative blouse and black dress pants and my inner diva would be working her hot pink streak under the cover of my neat, corporate bob. Hell, she could rave and party 'til she puked and no one would know but me and the diva.

That was a very long time ago, but now, twenty-plus years into my career, I still do the secret streak but for a totally different reason. It has become a ritual of the annual girl's weekend getaway that I go to with my friends. Each year we choose a new color; Ultra Violet in '06, Pool Blue in '07 and so on. And we all end up leaving with a brightly colored reminder of our good time nestled at the nape of our necks. What started as an act of rebellion has become a mark of togetherness and friendship and sisterhood.

These days, my inner diva has been all but silenced by the oncoming train of middle age. She rarely pokes at me anymore and I feel little need to rebel. That is until I take my daughter shopping in Hot Topic where Acid Green and Road Sign Orange colored nail polish sits side by side with black tutus and dangly, day-glow earrings. Then she wails like a banshee. I could never get away with the tutu, but girl, put on your sunglasses because you HAVE to see my pedicure.

31 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

Kelly said...

Oh, you sound like my twin. The principal's office was my second home, and I purposely tried to make my clothes clash every day. I also had a shaved head and left only my bangs so that I could dye them different colors. I've toned it down now, though, so that I don't scare the kids!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Kelly,

I wish I was your hairdresser back in the day. You sound like my favorite kind of client . . . the kind that let my play with the buzzer and the hair dye.

kyslp said...

Sounds like the 80's are back. It's a sad time to be entering middle age. Good thing we still have out pedi's. Love the secret streak of hair thing, BTW!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Kyslp,

Yup. The 80's are back with a vengence. One spin thru Hot Topic brings me back to all the little places that I used to shop in Greenwich Village, circa 1983.

peewee said...

I LOVE the mornings when you have me in tears. Seriously. It started with your comment on how your skates would always fall off and you could never get anywhere And I just burst out laughing because I FORGOT ABOUT THAT!!! HAHAHAHHAHAHAAHAA!! Those things were contraptions of HELL!

It's amazing we survived the 80's AT ALL!

Amy said...

Ahh, Hot Topic! I didn't know those were still around! How I fullfilled my teenage angst is so many of their stores.
I love that you and your girls have the "secret strand." That is so freaking cool! And rock star;)

JStantonChandler said...

I love going into Hot Topic, mostly because they have the friendliest employees in the mall! Plus, I love to see the cartoon t-shirts hanging on the walls :)

Love the idea of having a secret dye streak in your hair. I may have to talk to my sister about getting one of my own :)

Jen

Aunt Becky said...

That's brilliant! I had a blonde streak dyed into my hair years ago for that purpose. I think, once I lose the weight (gah!) that will be my reward.

linlah said...

"Then she wails like a banshee"
Mine wails all the time and I have no weapons to silence her.

Mare said...

Oh Diary, I'm up here at the cabin and thinking about our fall trip! I'm on the porch with a strong cup of coffee and I just sneaked a smoke! Our "wild" streak has spanned a wide range of colors over the years. How about white? Is it possible? I don't mean blonde - but really really white. I don't know if I've ever seen it. I could try that head shop on B'way and see if they have it. Woo Hoo! Girls Weekend - HERE WE COME!

Mare said...

I just had a funny recollection... One of the many times you broke a toe - and in your lovely business suit, you wore white sneakers tied shut with Christmas tinsel!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Amy - If you ever walk into a hot topic, it's like being 16 again. It makes you want to go joyriding with your boyfriend after he *steals his parents car out of the parking lot while they are at church.

* Thank god for the statute of limitations.

Jen - You are SO right. Hot Topic has kids working there that might look "dangerous" to a conservative parent. Grommets in their ears, lots of ink, multi-colored hair, piercings everywhere imaginable. But those parents are exactly who should visit the store to see how nice and helpful these kids are.

Aunt Becky - Let me know when you are ready to do a wild color. I can point you in the direction of a brand that will stay in for longer than 4 or 5 washes. Cough, cough. Manic panic.

Linlah - Then shut her up with a head full of purple hair! You can pull it off. Failure to capitulate to the wills of the diva will mean that Crazy Horses stays on an endless loop inside your noggin! She's a diva, she can make things happen.

Mare - We'd have to bleach our hair to oblivion with a high volume of peroxide. Manic Panic sells a color called Virgin Snow. The name creeps me out a little, but it appears to work. Go here - http://manicpanic.com/best%20hair%20color/virginsnow.html

Yeah, the christmas ribbon and bells on my shoe gave Irene the twitches!

Mare said...

I think we do white with a bold color in the middle of it so it pops. Like white-purple-white at the nape - or something with the white?

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Oh man, I was raised such a conformist and worried and stressed about it. I was corporate from day one. But last year when I lost that corporate job and explored the whole creative side, and now that I'm middle-aged, I feel a little more daring. No pink streaks yet, but maybe someday.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Mare - Kind of like a racing stripe or reverse skunk look?

NGIP - My suggestion is this - you and your favorite goat get dyed to match. A pink streak for you and a pink goatee for your favorite goat. You will both feel infinitely more creative, though it may end in the goat taking up painting, which could wind up being a terrible mess and resulting in him moving to Tahiti to paint naked women.

angryredhead said...

holy geez i just added you to my bookmarks, you're awesome. i never realized hair could be a persona. mine's an unruly, tempermental bitch.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

I love unruly and tempermental redheads, cause I am one. Thanks for bookmarking me!

Meredith said...

It's funny because I didn't have a rebellious bone in my body when I was 16 and yet now, at 36, I would looooooove to break out of my routine and just do something totally wild. Taking ideas...

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Meredith,

It sounds like it's time to buy a pair of black liquid leggings, get a tattoo and go on tour with AC/DC.

Be sure to write from the road and tell me how Angus is doing.

Gwamma67 said...

Well, I made it through those days, only I didn't have that secret streak! You'll make it too!

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

So do you still do your colored streak??

And what color polish did you end up with??

magda said...

I found you on Nancy's blog. My favorite parts of this entry are "being infatuated with your own rebelliousness" and the "secret streak". Yay Nancy for bringing me to you.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Nancy,

Construction Sign Orange, Silver Chrome and An inky purple-pink. I am doing my streak next weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I just got the Manic Panic dye kit. Soooo excited.

Hi Magda,

Welcome. Happy to have you here!

Chantel said...

I LOVED this! Like the best idea I've heard in years....I adore the rebellion of it as well as the significance.

Maven said...

I loved this too!!! As a Christmas gift to myself this year, and in your honour, I'm giving myself some kind of pedicure!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Chantel - Thanks. Are you thinking about a streak? Perhaps something in red and green for the holidays?

Maven - All I can say is hot topic has the best nail (or toe) polish colors in the world.

Cat Zen Space said...

I followed the link from Maven's blog! I LOVE THIS! I work in HR, so I can relate to dress code angst!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

CatZenSpace - HR? My heart goes out . . .I don't know how you do it. Employees are a major pain in the ass (and they DON'T know how to follow a dress code).

Lisa said...

Followed link from Maven's blog....and just love this post! Might have to find my own 'color streak' sometime.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Lisa - Thanks. I highly recommend hot pink.

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