Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I was sitting in Rita’s chair at Queen B Salon getting my hair straightened last night, talking about all my hair horror stories.

I’ve pretty much run the gamut of what a person can do to their hair. I’ve done every color from dark brown to platinum. I’ve had bobs and hair extensions and even that god-awful Jennifer Aniston haircut from the “Friends” era that was hands-down one of the most high-maintenance styles I can remember, at least since we used to feather our hair back in the ’80s like Farrah Fawcett. I’ve had those bad haircuts that are so traumatizing that I contemplating filing a lawsuit for emotional damages.

There was the time I decided to try Super Cuts and the lady chopped all my hair off and then goes, “What do you want me to do? It’s not like I can tape it back on.”

I told Rita about all the bad dye jobs and horrifying hair cuts and stylists from hell who charge an arm and a leg to do what they want, not what you ask for.

And she goes, “But it’s worth paying a lot if you get what you really want.”

If I could’ve been quick on my feet I would have said, “Honey, that could be the theme song for my life.”

Granted I was probably the only person in the Lower 48 sitting in a hair salon at 8 o’clock at night getting a premier service done two days before taxes are due, but you have to understand. My whole life I’ve wanted three things: hair that is long, hair that is blonde, and hair that is straight. And of course mine is brown, frizzy, curly, and has a top layer that never wants to grow past my chiny-chin-chin.

Coloring it is bad for it, straightening it is bad for it, and I’m sure the wide variety of silicone-based products I use to tame it aren’t that fantastic for it either.

But see, Rita is a bit of a miracle worker when it comes to hair. I’m one of these impossible women who walks in with a (current, post-“Friends” and post-divorce hottie) photo of Jennifer Aniston I tore out of Us Weekly going, “I want my hair to look just like this.” But here’s the thing: she can so totally do that.

When I heard about this new Brazilian Treatment (not to be confused with a Brazilian waxing treatment) I had my credit card out and ready. It’s sort of the opposite of a perm – instead of making your hair curly, it makes it straight, and is supposed to last for about three months. I guess it’s the first straightening technique to come out that’s safe for fine, color-treated hair that does not contain any toxic chemicals. It seals it with keratin protein, which actually conditions and protects it and makes it shiny. And I won’t have to blow dry it and flat iron it all the time, which means my relationship with Ryan might actually last past Christmas.

I go in and first she does my color. We are going dark gradually because she said I would freak out if she made my hair as dark as Jennifer Aniston’s. “It’s a process,” she said.

She put in a few caramel brown low lights and I totally love them. As part of my “F-You I’m 40” campaign, I have decided to unapologetically embrace my true self, even if that means being a little thicker through the midsection and getting past the “I want to be a Playboy bunny/Dallas Cowboy cheerleader when I grow up” stage. However, accepting my true self does not mean I’m past taming the Jew ‘fro and maybe bringing it up a shade or two.

In other good news, in the year that I’ve been seeing her, Rita has somehow gotten my hair to grow.

“After growing it out for months and months and months, it feels like it grew all of a sudden,” I said. It is not often I go into a vain cycle, but as I sat there admiring myself in the mirror I could feel one coming on strong.

After she was done with my color, Rita washed my hair several times to prepare it for the straightening treatment. I’m like a dog when it comes to having my hair washed. I’m just short of panting and wagging my tail and flipping over on my back. Scratch my scalp! Scratch my scalp! I love it.

Then she put me in her chair and painted the straightening goop on. She used one of those plastic basting brushes you might use to put barbeque sauce on a chicken and coated my hair front and back in small sections. Then she put a plastic cap on me and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

I expected it to be washed out, but instead, she pulled the cap off and started combing through it. Without rinsing, she blow dried it and then straightened it with the iron, again, in very small sections. I have to leave it alone for four days: I can’t wash it, put it up in a ponytail, or even wear a hat. Then she’ll rinse it out, shampoo it, and blow dry and straighten it again.

Even though it wasn’t done-done, when she was done, it was exactly what I wanted. I wouldn’t say I could pass for Jennifer Aniston since she’s probably a little bit taller and a lot thinner than me, but it’s close enough.

As I walked out to my car into the eerily quiet streets of Aspen during tax time with no one who wanted to go out with me on a Tuesday night to celebrate, it hit me: The IRS will just have to wait. I mean, thank god I have my priorities straight!

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