I just got the haircut of my life—and it got me to thinking about my history with hair— defined in my antiquated Merriam Webster as the slender threadlike outgrowth of one’s epidermis—also described as the pigmented filaments that form the characteristic coat of a mammal. I am one.
I didn’t give my hair a second thought until sixth grade. Up until that time, all I remember is my mother sending me off to school with two long braids down my back. But all that changed when the braids got whacked off and social dancing after lunch in the gym at John Hay School every Tuesday afternoon became a high point on my social calendar. My hair HAD to look good.
The only way I figured out how to accomplish this was to have my mother cover my head with tiny pincurls which I went to bed with on Sunday nights. On Monday mornings my hair was a frizzy mess. By Tuesday, social dancing day, the tight curls had simmered down and my hair was, I thought, at its very best. Of course, that only lasted for a day.
Fast forward to high school and college which I proceeded through with medium short, medium curly hair which I enhanced myself using no longer existent bobbie pins.
Later, when I was a young mom and had no time for such frivolities, my hair got shorter—and shorter. So short that it would have been impossible to improve it with a bobbie pin or even a curling iron. And it stayed that way for eons until, about four months ago, I decided to let it grow.
Even though I have this wonderful and talented neighbor who cuts my hair, the growing out period was, well, just plain awful. But I persisted. I could make it look okay for 15 minutes or so before it resorted to the wild old woman look. I hung in with it through Christmas, but then, one morning the next week, after I’d washed it and messed with it and it looked as bad as ever, I was done.
I called my beloved haircut lady and said so. Okay she said, tomorrow morning 8:15. By 8:45, I was back to my old short-haired self and life was good. I’m glad I did it, but no more experimenting. It is what it is.