After getting streaked and foiled and parked under a dryer so the chemicals could sex-up my hair, the stylist offered me two magazines, Redbook and Glamour. The young woman with black, acrylic nails didn’t know not to hand Redbook to a client my age, not if she wanted a tip. At the stage in life between before and after, desperately hoping to shave ten years off mediocre, I reached for Glamour.
Hair salons are where gals get their glam on. The attention and pampering and knowing you’re going to leave the salon looking almost as good as Stevie Nicks on the “Rumours” album cover makes it worth the dent in your Kate Spade knockoff. Add thirty minutes under radiating heat reading “Men’s Best Sex & Love Advice” and “Back by Popular Demand - Orgasm Q & A!” and, well, it’s a sweet time. It’s as close to self gratification as you’re going to get in public.
The first twenty-four pages are advertisements. First page, Cartier. Then assorted makeup ads interspersed with pricy designer fragrances and footwear in all their glossy, glammy glory. Next, the sexier ads, or their version of sexy, anyway. Dolce & Gabbana is hawking “his and her” jewels. The couple doesn’t look to be more than seventeen. Their faces are just inches apart and frozen in a parted-lip, pouty parody. I know they are trying to sell jewelry, but they fall short of selling me anything. The boy’s and girl’s eyes don’t connect. She looks like she’s thinking about another boy, and so does he. I wonder if I should email the company and point this out.
I let it slide. The timer is ticking. To peruse any articles I need to race through the maze of merchandise. “Jake: A Man’s Opinion” is a must read; I remember it from my last hair appointment. Not that he’s going to teach me anything I don’t already know, still it's a kick filling my husband in on the latest advice from the kindergarten set.
One perplexed progeny writes:
Dear Jake, my boyfriend does this annoying thing with his hips while we’re having sex. How can I tell him it’s not working for me?
Jake’s advice (pardon a slight paraphrasing):
Lie. Fake a female issue that his hip-hop exacerbates. Mentioning your woman parts will rattle him enough that he won’t want to try it again.
Good Grief. My advice, Perplexed Prog: Just roll on top, tell him you like it straight on, then show him how it’s done. He will not debate you.
Flipping through page after page of mannequin-perfect models pimping products brings me to “His-and-Her Sex Dreams.” A survey has confirmed women dream about celebs or ex-partners more often then men do. Men dream about having sex with multiple partners twice as often as women. The author of the study says it’s totally normal and doesn’t say anything about your current relationship . . . Wow, that’s a load off my mind.
I start to detect a tawdry trend:
“Plastic surgery: A Man’s View” is about breast implants – hers, not his.
“Sex Answers Please!” –too desperate.
“Men, Sex & Love.” This month’s lowdown on you, him, and everything in between. –anatomy alert, metaphorically speaking.
“How I Really Learned About Sex” –atypical confessions.
“Hey, Guys: Which Swimsuit is Sexiest?” –drooling.
“Eight Sex & Love Things Men are Right About” –boasts more sex leads to better sex. Now there’s some male-inspired wisdom for the ages.
By page 267 I’ve slogged through the micro-advice sex columns, a dozen snaps of actors and actresses du jour, miscellaneous make-up tips (apparently ‘80s raspberry-pink lipstick re-debuts this summer), 13 pages devoted entirely to picking the right bathing suit for attracting optimum attention, and every “glam alert” a bootylicious could want to make this her hottest, sexiest summer yet.
I finally find the orgasm article featured on the cover, and with only five minutes left on the dryer, I’m speed reading. What? It’s probably the only pertinent information in the entire mag, and at the news stand price of $3.99, that comes to a buck a page for answers to all those burning questions. A real bargain. I’m not so cynical I wouldn’t accept a pearl should they produce one.
Well, maybe I am. The article, like all before it, is a letdown. Even if I had read it at my leisure, it wouldn’t have enlightened. Guess what? There is no such thing as a normal orgasm. Someone notify 60 Minutes' Morley Safer. Who’s making up this nonsense? And why is it I’m not on Glamour’s payroll?
I’m confused. What happened to plausible journalism? I flip the thing over and check the name on the front. Yep, it says Glamour alright. Not Sex, More Sex, and Nothing but Sex.
When did the line blur? Back in my day the name of a magazine said it all. Teen was for teenagers, Glamour was for 20-something fashionistas, Vogue was for sophisticates, and Cosmo was for sluts (yes, even prior Sex in the City sensationalism).
One's choice was indeed clear.
So what exactly is Glamour now? Is it the slick advertisements; the overkill he said/she said surveys; the unrelenting sex articles that sidestep real relationship issues and reveal nothing fundamentally important? Have I wasted 30 minutes vainly searching for the fountain of youth, only to discover it’s just about humping?
I like going to the hair salon. I like getting my glam on. There’s no denying, it’s an indulgent ego rush that makes me feel younger, better, hotter. But next time I’m stuck under the dryer and have to decide how I want to be entertained, I think I’ll “pump up my geriatric jam” by requesting Redbook.
Wanda Morrow-Clevenger resides in Hettick, Illinois, where she delights in writing her memoir – especially the parts about boys, bellbottoms and Moody Blues albums. Her work appears in the Storyteller; Nuthouse; The Nocturnal Lyric; Up the Staircase; Flash Fiction Offensive; Leaf Garden; TheRightEyedDeer; Every Day Fiction; Matter Daily; Short Story Library; previously in Clockwise Cat; forthcoming in Conceit Magazine and Daily Flash.