About a month ago I had my hair thermal reconditioned, or, Japanese Thermal Straightened, or just Asian straightened, if all Asian straightening methods look the same to you. I read a few message boards where girls said straightening their hair had changed their lives. They’re right, it has changed their lives. I could tell from their before and after pictures. It’s especially amazing to see the affect it has on gnarly older women, whose frizzy, brittle, please-always-put-it-in-a-scrunchie hair was transformed into shiny, smooth, virgin hair. From behind, these women look like they’re 25 years old, but they’re still pretty gnarly from the front. It’s unnatural.

It was hard to find specific information on thermal straightening, which made my trip to the salon and Queens needlessly treacherous. Here is some advice:

1) Even if you don’t usually, go to Queens. For the additional inconvenience of going to a borough that otherwise floats in the ether for you, you can save about $400 bucks off your thermal straightening.

2) Prepare to enter a hair sweatshop. The price difference really is like the difference between flying and taking the Greyhound. Flying can be nice, but you can still have an uncomfortable experience, however taking the Greyhound all but guarantees you’ll see the janitor fight a customer with his mop handle. So goes this price drop: the salon will be crowded, noisy, full of 12 year old girls with big boobs (possibly from a preganancy), and no one will speak English. Not in a Japanese Thermal way, but in more of a Korean Thermal way. But it’s all the same anyway.

3) Bring something to read. You’ll be in the hair shop for up to eight hours, maybe 10 if your hair is really awful. If it makes you feel better, bring in some really dense reading, to help you forget that the middle school girl next to you is reading Everyone Worth Knowing and turning the pages with acrylic nails the length and breadth of the rest of her finger.

4) Don’t wear anything nice, and maybe wear your glasses instead of contacts. You remember that scene in Malcolm X, where he gets his hair straightened with lye, and the chemicals make him scream? That will be you, except in Queens instead of Harlem, with Japanese straightening instead of lye, and with your Jewish or Hispanic or whatever hair, instead of his soon-to-be-converted hair and soul. You will play Russian Roulette afterwards though. You have that in common.