I am trying out all sorts of wild and crazy living on the edge with reckless abandon activities of late. You might recall, I recently wrote about eating tongue. Not that I did, or likely would, but I did talk about it-that’s surely wild! I enjoyed a fairly successful art opening with a room full of positive energy and encouraging feedback. OK, I am being painstakingly modest- the art opening was absolutely fabulous, and I am not typically one to do fabulous, not seriously anyway, but the opening was totally kick-ass. It was serious and amazing and fabulous. I also submitted a painting to a gallery, in the small urban setting of Kingston, N.Y. which was well received and generated an immediate, impassioned response. I started biking, well a little, but a start just the same and I did make it the whole 8 miles with speed and delight plastered across my wind blown face. So I did it again. I logged a few "dates" that I thought were great fun. We all have our own take on things, for me the great smile I was receiving was a fresh new start after years of forlorn sadness, and pale, strained grief. So, I might try a few more soon.
All of this living on the edge and not taking too much seriously led me to say these words out loud yesterday, “You have been doing my hair for years, I want you to do something different, I totally trust you.” I guess I thought that meant she would also know my inner most insecurities and fears, being all trust-gaining and such. This trust of a hairdresser parallels the trust in intimate relationships and the belief that when we do finally “trust” we imagine that to mean; the other bloke or broad in the inner circle of trust can read our minds and know our inner selves and inner fears. The very dark and secret part of us that we can’t quite look at directly will be understood and honored and protected. That's kind of hard to really master. But then that’s what living on the edge, all reckless is about isn’t it? Embracing the feeling that we are OK in spite of those deep dark secrets. We have very little control of very few things so why exert so much energy trying so hard to make everything just so, or just soooooooo hidden?
Something different. That’s all she needed. Well, actually, she went on a mission to find a few good magazines and hair style catalogs to choose a perfect style. She handed me one and told me to see if I could find anything. I decided not to really look. I wanted to give up and just let the “expert” decide. She was getting more and more exhilarated. She did in fact have a great idea.
Around the halfway mark, I thought of saying “OK, great you did it!” But again, I fought the urge and just decided to wait it out. I did not have long hair to begin with but when all was said and done, you could have created costume and design for 2 – 3 Planet of the Apes characters. Let’s just say my hair is, or was thick. Extremely thick and now it’s not. It’s not thick, it’s not there, or here, anymore. It’s just not.
I survived it in her smiling presence. I am a sucker for smiles it turns out. An easy mark at the end of a smile. Very easy, it seems. I don’t often enough give them, so they are typically hard to come by, but maybe I am smiling more of late, because I seem to be getting more. (I’ll have to make a mental note of that, am I smiling more? Are others smiling in happiness or something more akin to shock and fear?) I left the salon with the sinking reality that when I woke from my spritz of valium-sprayed-smile, I would be greatly and deeply traumatized and traumatizing. When I got home, my son who favors crew cuts, (which incidentally drives me crazy,) said “WHOA” in that smiling, deep, way that doesn’t really mean good or bad but it surely means DIFFERENT. I prefer good or bad when it comes to feedback, DIFFERENT is hard to pin down. I like pinning down, and smiles.
In the late 60’s the “pixie” was a hairstyle in vogue. Twiggy wore it best. Her big deep eyes distracted you from her short hair, or were made to look deeper without some big, distracting, flip, wave. Her Peter Max inspired fashions also brought your eyes away from her hair or lack of it. Florence Henderson, as Carol Brady added a little length and popularized the “shag”. In those same late 60’s my mother, frugal, efficient expert that she was, marched us downtown and had a barber cut our hair quickly and cheaply, once. I was too young to complain or grasp that this was not exactly normal girlish fanfare. The second time however, was traumatizing. To me, and more so to Mrs. Hunt, my best friend’s mother charged with taking me. She was on her way downtown and needed to take her son to get a haircut. My mother, frugal efficiency expert that she was, handed Mrs. Hunt the cost for a haircut and requested that I get mine too. Mrs. Hunt appeared a little reluctant, due to my status as a “girl”, but she was headed there anyway, and what are friends for?
So off we went. It came back to me quickly but apparently too late. Maybe it was the clippers, maybe it was the fact that I was with a different boy, not just boy brothers that did things with me out of familiar tribal ritual or the privacy of our own family oddities. Suddenly it became clear this was a “boy” hair-cutter and a “boy” haircut and now what? Was I a boy? No! I was not a boy. But from the looks of things in the barbershop mirror, you could have fooled me and probably everyone else in the universe. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time, cute - sure, but a bit on the rough and tumble side of things, skinned knees and wild abandon.
If you ask young children now the difference between boys and girls they often say, “Girls have long hair. “ I can assure you, the rules back then were even more defined. Girls had long hair, well except, Twiggy, and Carol Brady, but I don’t think they went to the barber. When I caught a glimpse of myself, I did what any traumatized girl does. I screamed. I cried a shrieking, screaming cry and tried to grasp the utter act of violation that had been committed. I could do no more. My hair, thick and long, was gone. It was not there, on my head, and could not be returned or fixed or salvaged. Worse, I felt like I was stripped of my girlness. I walked home, sulking, down trodden, several steps behind, Mrs. Hunt and her son. Knowing the neighboring “foreigner”, (I think that once meant “Italian”) girls could at least wear earrings to stake a claim toward gender clarity, didn't help. I was stuck, hairless and nationalist without the old world pleasure, or disguise of pierced ears. Sulking and down trodden with minimal nationalist expression, I tarried homeward.
I don’t hold on to many feminine pleasures or pursuits. I was not primped or pampered. Feminine mystique is not an area of expertise for me. I am not high maintenance in any stretch of the imagination, but I do like a little more hair. I have a few different quirky rules about what NOT to do to it. Of course if you don’t share these rules and you say, “I totally trust you with my hair” you have to just take it with a grain of salt, or scream bloody murder, or suffer stoically. Maybe I just need a thick, Peter Max-inspired headband or a big floppy hat for the next couple of weeks.
I went out to pick up a few things from the grocery store and the local high school teacher looked up from his cart and smiled widely, and said, “Oh, I like your new do!” Of course his hair is thick and long, and I think he was caught off guard, but he did smile. Maybe it was ok to trust someone with sharp scissors near my hair. Maybe I need to lace up my high heeled boots and twirl around in my new.... wait, according to fashionising.com I am "in". The trends for 2012: wide eyes curtained by big false lashes, bright block colors, graphic prints and colorful abstract geometric patterns, AND short, boyish hairstyles.
Maybe I will check in on Mrs. Hunt. I imagine if pressed she still has pangs of guilt about taking me to get my haircut some 43 years ago. It might please her to know, I finally outgrew it, sort of. I’m just happy to know, my hair grows quickly, in thick, waves that will soon cover my ears and hide my, I mean frame me just so!