In the hair salon today, I found myself caught in the most improbable lie.
First, so you understand how I got there, you need to know that I typically spend the Tuesday after each chemo session being sick all day. It's something I've gotten used to. Annoying, but happily, it's like clockwork, so I can plan around it.
But this particular Tuesday, I had a haircut appointment with a really-hard-to-get-into stylist, an appointment made literally months ago. I hoped that if I took enough medication, I should be able to get a quick cut without incident, then return home and get sick all over my house in peace.
I dropped my kids at my friend Libby's house. (Side note: Libby RULES.) I drove downtown. As I entered the salon I started to feel symptomatic.
The assistant stylist squeezed a blob of fruity shampoo into my hair. "Soo...you enjoying this yummy sunshine today?" and all I could think was, "Would you hurry up?" I didn't even appreciate her scalp massage. "Don't make a scene, Shelly. Hold it together." As soon as she was done, I excused myself and went to the restroom and was sick all over the place. Apparently, over-the-counter preventative meds aren't strong enough to stave off post-chemo sickness.
So I got back to her chair and my stylist began to comb my hair. "YOU are looking pretty blonde there, lady! Been outside a lot this summer?" I smiled halfheartedly and nodded. She stopped combing and let her scissors go limp at her side. "You ok? You look sort of...grey."
"Oh, I'm ok, just...well actually, not feeling all that well."
The brown-haired woman in the chair next to me turns and looks my way. "Oh my GOSH, do you have the flu that's going around?"
Her stylist nods emphatically and murmurs, "Mmm...Don't want to be getting THAT!"
Brown-haired woman: "It's really nasty. My cousin's got it." She kind of backed up in her chair, to get farther away from my germs.
Me: "Nope. No flu. Just..." (Oh, brother. How do I sum this up quickly for a few strangers?: 'No flu, nope, I'm just riding out the chemo storm. CO-LON CAN-CER CHE-MO. Try sayin' that three times real fast! Ah, but seriously, how you ladies doin?')
My stylist narrowed her eyes and put her hands on her hips. She pointed her comb at me and broke into a big smile. "WAIT A MINUTE. You're PREGNANT, aren't you? I remember we talked about this last time! [No we didn't.] You were going to try! You guys were going to go on vacation and try to get pregnant! You're totally pregnant aren't you!?"
Brown-haired girl and her stylist both looked at me expectantly with wide eyes.
What can I say? I blanked! "Um, yep! I am. And that's why I'm sick. So...yep. Good ol' morning sickness. It's the worst."
(The moment I said it, I thought, "Shelly. You just told them you were pregnant. You dumb ol' liar. Get out of here as soon as possible.)
But, for some reason, the idea of being barfy and nasty as the result of a growing BABY has a sort of sheen to it. Being barfy and nasty from chemotherapy is just... well, sad. And a little gross, especially in a hair salon.
Then, the barrage:
"OHMYGOD! WHEN ARE YOU DUE?"
"Is your husband sooo pumped?"
"Is this your first baby?"
"How far along are you?"
"Do you, like, want some tea?"
So. The haircut ended, and I left in a rush with wet hair. I ran to my car and drove home, my abdomen in a Windsor knot. (My conscience in a slipknot.)
I'm going back for a trim in 6 weeks, so either I have to come clean with my stylist, or show up with a pillow in my shirt.
Be warned people: One of cancer's worst side effects is IT MAKES YOU A BIG FAT LIAR.