I got this message when I was still at the hospital, on Dec. 6:
i'm writing a story for Marie Claire magazine in New York. I'm trying to find a respected salon in Kiev that can explain the most-popular haircut right now. Is there any way you could help me? I'd need you to go to the salon of your choice, ask them the following questions, and email it to me in english. here's what i need:
-a description of the most popular haircut
-the most popular color or shades
-the most-requested celebrity cut
The real world was limited to my aching boobs at that point, but Ms. Dempsey's message reminded me I needed a haircut badly. I had been planning to have one before I turned 32 in January - but then Marta arrived and I forgot about most of my plans and intentions.
Even though Ms. Dempsey sounded as if we knew each other, we didn't. In fact, I was the wrongest choice possible for this kind of an assignment. It usually takes me months if not years to have a haircut; I rarely go to "respected" salons because folks there like to experiment too much, and when I tell them I need the simplest and the quickest thing - "Just try to make it look neat, the edges and all" - they tell me it's old-fashioned and proceed reluctantly, as if they're doing me a huge favor, and very slowly, and then they charge someone's monthly salary for it. To imagine asking those people some stupid questions, with Marta waiting for my boobs at home, was ridiculous. So I wrote to Ms. Dempsey that I couldn't help her, but that she should definitely mention Yulia Tymoshenko's braids - even though her style isn't popular here at all, as far as I can see.
They seem to have a fixation on Ukrainian hair at Marie Claire: I've just fished out one of my old grad school papers, in which I, among other things, quoted from a feature on the concept of beauty in different world cultures (October 1996 issue of Marie Claire, p. 44):
Elsewhere, however, hirsute is haute. Among the virtually body-hairless Chruki [sic] of northern Siberia, pubic hair is a sign of great beauty in a woman, as is a female mustache in parts of the Ukraine.
This has made receiving Ms. Dempsey's message double fun.