I tend to wax poetic about the way it used to be in the ‘80s when ignorance was bliss, before modern advancements turned us all into anxious, over-informed, indulgent ingrates, dependent on 24/7 digital information and instant gratification.

But I have to admit, there are a few modern improvements that have made life better today. Way better.

“Are we doing a few foils to brighten your color up today?” my hair stylist asked recently, as I sat in her cozy chair frowning at my gray roots in the mirror.

“Definitely,” I smiled, and sipped coffee from my mug.

I’ve been using the same hair stylist since our Navy family PCSed to Rhode Island in 2013. We’ve settled into a comfortable routine, getting cut and colored every seven weeks to hide my mousy grays and tame my natural frizz.

My salon is a bastion of beauty and relaxation, with contemporary, organic decor, thriving greenery, pleasant scents of coconut and jasmine and soothing background music.

During my regular appointments, I chatter softly with my stylist about this and that, whilst my hair is delicately painted with enriching colorants, tenderly bathed in warm water and moisturizing conditioners, softly snipped, gently dried, expertly styled, then finished with a lightweight holding spritz.

Yesterday, I walked out of the salon feeling confident and refreshed, wishing I had somewhere to go other than the commissary.

Not so long ago, hairstyling was very, very different.

As a child, I recall my mother flitting around our brick ranch with her hair in pink plastic rollers, usually covered with a padded scarf. She’d have her rollers in all day, sometimes overnight, before her hair was set. Then, she’d enamel everything in place with an aerosol cloud of Aqua Net. Back then, it was common to see a woman in a grocery store, bank or gas station with her rollers in. It’s what women endured just to curl their hair.

One year, my mother was gifted a square case containing a heavy-duty shower cap attached to the motorized case by a long hollow hose. She’d put rollers in, put the cap over her head, plug the case in and flip the switch. Hot air blew through the hose, inflating the cap.

Tethered to the case, my mother had at least an hour to smoke cigarettes, read the paper and watch an episode of “Laverne & Shirley” before her hair was dry.

Thankfully, in high school, I owned a curling iron. But the curling irons of the ‘80s were very hot and had small barrels. Hence, teenage girls like me showed up at school with elongated burns on their foreheads and bangs that looked like curved links of kielbasa.

When “permanent waves” became trendy, I decided to get one. All I had to do was sit in the beautician’s chair for two hours while she painstakingly put a gazillion tiny hair rollers all over my head, then doused it with an acrid ammonia-based liquid curling agent. If I managed to survive the chemical fumes, I was guaranteed to have ringlets like Sarah Jessica Parker or Stevie Nicks. However, after sitting under the hair-drying hood, my perm was flat on top and poofed on the ends. To make matters much worse, I’d driven my moped to the salon without a helmet. It was the ‘80s, after all. By the time I arrived home, I looked like a blonde bride of Frankenstein.

In the late ‘90s, while stationed in rural England, I went to the village hair salon for “highlights.” The hairdresser placed a thick, perforated rubber cap over my head, then used a crochet hook to pull tufts of my hair through, then proceeded to smear a harsh-smelling bleaching paste over the exposed strands. An hour later, I walked out of the establishment looking like I had a striped polecat on my head.

Despite all my griping about our modern life, I’m actually very grateful for the amazing advances in cosmetology. The cost of a day at the salon may have quadrupled, but it’s the one place that money can buy happiness.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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