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Frumpy Middle-aged Mom: Going wig shopping when you need fresh hair

So, I recently had to get new hair.

This was an unfamiliar experience for me. I’ve basically had the same long, straight hair since age 7, except now I dye it an improbable shade of red that exists only in portions of Chernobyl, in an undoubtedly futile attempt to look like I’m a hipster.

I’ve always been a fan of hair, especially my own, and considered it the only redeeming feature on my person, except for my groovy eyeglasses. However, as you regular readers know, I’m going through chemotherapy, and it had different plans for my hair, i.e. to make it fall out.

What’s particularly annoying about this is that, while the hair on my head started falling out, the one random hair that’s growing out of my post-menopausal chin is still going strong. Is this right? No, my friends, it is not. I stopped shaving my legs some time ago, on the theory that there was no point, because it would all fall out anyway. Um, no. I’m halfway through my chemo treatments and — you guessed it — I still have all my leg hair, though I refuse to shave it on principle.

Anyway, I knew I was going to want to buy a wig, so I started shopping well before I became a Mexican hairless. (I’m not Mexican, I just think that’s funny.) The problem was that I really wanted a wig that looked like my actual hair, long and in a toxic dye red that nature never intended. Unfortunately, the only wigs I could find that matched my actual hair were cheap and tacky. I tried not to think about what that meant about me and my fashion choices, but I couldn’t help it.

When you’re bald from chemotherapy, your head becomes very sensitive, so it’s important to spend $1.2 million on a top quality wig so it’s not too uncomfortable to wear. OK, they’re not that expensive, but they’re not cheap. I started making my rounds of wig shops, starting with The Wigs off Brookhurst in Anaheim, where the sweetest ladies ever put a wig on me that looked nothing like my real hair, because it was tasteful and actually flattered my face. Naturally, I didn’t buy it, but I did put it on my short list.

I went to another wig shop, in Little Saigon, that got good online reviews and I had high hopes for, but the lady there was so rude it was as if she took one look at me and determined she wouldn’t sell me a wig if I tied her up and tickled her. Then, I went to a shop in Huntington Beach with a wonderful owner who was so blond and beautiful I couldn’t believe it when she told me she herself was wearing a wig, but she didn’t have what I was looking for either.

I really had no idea before I started this journey that there was this whole secret world of wigs out there, and so many women who were quietly wearing them. Now, I peer at foreheads everywhere I go, even though I know a good wig won’t reveal itself as such.

My friend, Marilyn, convinced me there had to be a huge wig shop in Los Angeles and she was right. So I drove up to The Wig Shop on Wilshire Boulevard and actually found a great wig there that I loved, but it was rather heavy, so I didn’t pull the trigger. That shop also had amazing beehive wigs in extraordinary colors, and the sales clerk told me that a woman once came in and bought 10 of them and had them shipped to her home in London, where she made all the guests at a special dinner party wear one. I only have one question: Why don’t I have any friends like that?

Finally, the day came when my hair started falling out, so I ran to my friend Debbie Bond’s salon in Lakewood and had her shave it all off immediately. I believe my exact words were “Get it off of me! Now!” Afterward, when I was shorn for the first time in my life, I realized I looked frighteningly like my brother and father, both of whom were also bald. This was terrifying enough to propel me into my car, where I drove straight to The Wigs in Anaheim, and bought the first wig I ever tried on, from the adorable ladies who work there.

Frumpy Middle-aged Mom wears the wig she bought from The Wigs in Anaheim into Oga’s Cantina in Disneyland, June 2019. (Photo courtesy of Marla Jo Fisher)

It cost $280 and I get nothing but compliments every time I wear it. “You should keep your hair like that when it grows back in,” is the remark I hear most often. I’m trying not to take offense that so many people hated my rock ‘n’ roll neon red, but I admit it couldn’t be simpler to pull on your hair every morning and take it off at night.

Plus, my showers last five minutes and I’m saving a ton of money on shampoo.

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