Infrequent as the occurrence is, the Southern Living offices can sometimes be lonely for those of us of the male persuasion. Every conversation feels like a learning experience. Did you know, for example, that Downton Abbey is still on television? I do, thanks to Rachel Ellis. Just the other day, Ms. Pat York and Abbi Wilt taught me about the full range of heels. Did you know that kitten pumps don’t involve any actual kittens? I didn’t either! On that note, pumps include no moving parts and perform no actual pumping. What a surprise!
Well, today I learned something that has forever changed my life. Did you know you can wash your hair WITHOUT WASHING YOUR HAIR? Thank you, Patricia Shannon. You’ve literally changed me.
So, I’m in that sad scary stage of growing one’s hair out when you look either like a member of The Cure or you get creative with bobby pins (something else I learned in these hallowed halls). I look like that fraternity brother who spent 18 years with the hair restrictions of Catholic school and can finally grow his locks out but has developed a muscular tick in his neck from head-nodding to push his bangs out of his face hands-free (the infamous “swoop”).
In an attempt to corral this hair into a silky, golden river of softness and style, I did something new today: I conditioned. Now, our Style Editor Stephanie Granada wasn’t around to give me pointers on how to do this. As it turns out, you aren’t supposed to rub conditioner into your scalp the way you would with shampoo. Go figure. I ended up walking into a staff wide meeting looking like Neo from The Matrix. Has he not showered, like, ever? was surely the thought on everyone’s mind. Did he join a 1990s movie version of the Mafia? Is he on the cast of Boardwalk Empire? was surely on everyone else’s.
Embarrassed and scared, I confided in my confidant Ms. Pat, who was curious about just how much Brylcreem I’d used this morning. “It’s conditioner!” I exclaimed, adding, “What’s Brillow Cream?”
“Brylcreem, one word!” Another day, another lesson.
Since you’re only supposed to condition the dry ends of your hair, not the healthy roots, I figured I was stuck looking like someone who would play illegal high-stakes poker in the back of the basement of a pub in the East End of London. That’s when Patricia appeared like an apparition, holding a small metal bottle of Batiste. “Try this!”
Dry shampoo, they call it. I’d heard tales, sure, but those were just rumors, campfire stories told by men wishing to be boys. All part of the cult of the superstitious. No way you could wash your hair without water. We’re human beings, not wool suits or silk shirts! If my tennis shoes can’t be dry cleaned, how can I?
Turns out, easily and with great joy. Because the second that gorgeous, floral mist hit my hair, everything felt lighter. Not just my hair—the problems of the world. I felt freshly laundered, cleaner than a bar of soap. All without a drop of water.
Some days, you just have to sit back and marvel at the wonders of this world. Today, well, today was one of those days.
P.S. I’d like to extend thanks to Tim Kilgore for walking into the bathroom, seeing me at the mirror spraying my hair with a floral mist while spinning my head around, and not commenting or even looking particularly surprised.
Travis M. Andrews is an associate editor for Southern Living. Follow him on Twitter @travismandrews.