Tuesday, September 20, 2011



No sucker. No bright colored polyester cape. No toys. I want to go home. I'm screaming and Mom is embarrassed. My hair is too long for me to take care of it and she doesn't have time to make up for me every day. I don't know that. All I know is, I can feel my hair screaming as it's sliced through by vicious, haphazard scissors. It's just a trim. She didn’t tell me it would be anything like this. So cruel and careless! Shaking my head only reveals how many tufts have already been severed. The poor salon lady looks discouraged. She opens and closes the scissors with uncertainty, searching for a space to cut my hair and not ears. I'm not thinking about that either. I can see my precious locks of hair falling to the ground. Some stray strands stick to my wet, salty, contorted cheeks. Why would Mom do this to me?


Since I have independence now, and my own room with my own roommate and my own job and my own credit card, I decide it's time for a change. Moving 1000 miles away from home wasn't dramatic enough. A haircut! That's dramatic! I scout ideas for a while before sitting behind a girl at the football game with a cute pixie cut. It gels up to spunky spikes in the back with elegant sweeping bangs at the front. We're too far away from the game to see anything important and it's blisteringly hot. And I don't care about football anyway. Freshmen go to all the games to become true blue, myself included. I want to be true blue too. We all take pictures of ourselves in face paint to prove that they were there. Anyway, I spend the whole time watching her haircut and studying how it holds up against the wind, heat, her fanatical friends. Once in a while a roaring wave of sweat and spit and cheers interrupts my observations. I cheer along and then go back to jotting mental notes. I'm impressed with the bangs. Despite the boisterous breeze, they always settle back into place. Satisfied with the shape and drape of the cut, I finger my own hair contemplatively between more cheers and synchronized stomping.

After the game, my life of independence blossoms in front of my eyes and I'm empowered by visions of chic, modern bobs and that bangs that bounce and flutter with softness but always settle back exactly into place. Students drain out of the stadium as everyone goes home to wash off the face paint. I peel away instead to Great Clips and ask them to cut everything except some swooping bangs and sell me some gel to spike up the back.


It's one of those moments that people talk about your whole life and then it comes and you do everything that they talked about and it's surreally normal still and you can't believe you're actually living it. My hair has been long, then short, then long again. It's about medium length now. My mom is leaking a little bit. She dabs her eye with a tissue and surrenders the veil-adjusting to my adopted aunt. So proud. I'm glad she's proud. I don't feel anything out of the ordinary. Happy, sure. I'm usually happy. But not the elated, ecstatic, delirious kind of euphoria that people talk about in books or movies. Just calm, quiet, content. I guess that's what I should have expected. The only thing really strange is looking in the mirror. My hair is in an up-do for the third time in my life (the first was for prom, the second a practice for today). My stylist made it look longer than it really is. She used nineteen bobby pins and a 3/4 can of hairspray. She also starched my bangs so that they won't separate and stick to my forehead if the sun is too hot. An impregnable fortress on my head. In the pale yellow glow of the vanity lights in our preparation room, it looks very gentle and natural. Somehow, she hid all nineteen bobby pins. I smile at Mom who is sitting with a quiet, glowing grin on her face. I'm glad she's grinning.

The veil is done. Time for pictures.

[Inspired by the prompt - "Tell your life story through three incidents involving hair" from Burroway's Imaginative Writing]


K said...

Nicely done. Minimal and eloquent. That surreal normality? I know it.

Jordan said...

This was wonderful. In almost every single way. I would be more specific, but I don't want to cheapen it. Very good work, my friend.

Murphy said...

I love this one, It looks just like Cami and David. I'm glad they were happy to get it!

Murphy said...

Oops, wrong post to comment on. I loved reading this! Very creative. I really enjoyed how your narrative was focused on the hair, and the hair seemed really important, but still you were able to give the impression of the importance of the life situations you were in.