Growing Pains

“Great hair,” Linda exclaimed profusely, elongating her words the way I wished I could lengthen my hair.  “Greeeeat hair.”
“You know?”  I caught the stylist’s eye in the mirror.  “I just wanted a trim?”
“Such body.”  Snip.  Snip.  Snip.  She continued the assault on my head.  Scissors whisked efficiently around me in a whirl; a flurry of hair thickened the air.  “Must be nice.”
I watched with dismay as heavy locks of hair thudded to the floor.  “I’m kind of trying to grow it out a little?” 
“Just. Terrific. Hair.”
For over thirty years, I’ve been trying to grow out my hair, this latest attempt all gone in a poof.  Or rather a series of snips.

* * * 

One bright afternoon in May—I was no more than ten—I took a chair to the patio and handed my mother the scissors.  She lifted one of the long braids, plaited tightly in the style of my heroine, Laura Ingalls.  “Are you sure?”
“Yep.”  I pictured the new me, older, more mature, a sleek bob replacing the braids; city replacing the country.
Mom held the scissors to my hair.  “Ready?”
“Yep.”
Snip.
Boing!  Yes!  My hair actually boinged!  Released from the heavy curtain it'd been toting around for years, my hair suddenly sprung to life. 
In a flash, my mother cut off the next braid.  “Do you want to keep them, to remember your hair by?”  She held up the headless braids, still bound up at one end in elastics. 
“No.”  I stood from the chair.  “I’ll remember it when it  grows back.”  My hair and I boinged our way into the bathroom to inspect the new me. 
The new me didn’t have cute, straight hair.  The new me didn’t have a sleek bob.  The new me had weird hair, insane hair: The area just above my forehead suddenly developed millions of spare follicles, causing an extra acre of hair to grow there.  Hair spiked this way and that, no two pieces ever united.  And no amount of styling, gel, hairspray or cutting could tame the beast upon my head.
I resorted to tears.  My mother took me to a salon.  “I’m thinking,” the stylist said, I could tell she was trying not to laugh, “a Dorothy Hammil?” 
Snip. 
Dorothy Hammil.  Nice cut, when you’re spinning in circles at about 100 miles an hour.  But not nice for someone with a hump of spare hair sprouting from her forehead. 
“You’ll appreciate it when you’re older,” the stylist told me, pushing the hump into place and securing it with industrial-strength spray.
Eventually, after several years of hair despair, I abandoned Dorothy and settled into a style of my own: the “cut it all off” pixie.  By effectively mowing down the shrub that was my hair, I had won the battle.  But the victory was hollow: Ever since that day in May, I’d imagined myself with long, silky tresses flowing down my back.  With long hair, I’d be elegant, stunning.  I’d look like all of my friends, who’d kept their hair long throughout the fourth grade and into the middle school.  With long hair, I’d be able to casually toss my locks over my shoulder, thus attracting the attention of the boys around me.  But instead, I had…elf.  A tallish elf, to be sure.  But an elf nonetheless.  Elves are cute.  Elves are mischievous.  Elves are not stunning.  Elves wear funny hats and funny clothes and have bells on their shoes.  Elves are...well, elves.  Who wants to look like that?
So at least three times a year, when I’m feeling especially adventurous, perhaps crazy is a better term, I try to grow my hair out.  Strange times.  Strange times indeed.  As my hair grows, it passes through some of its own, unique styles.  Caution: Do not try these at home…
Three or four weeks past the scheduled “cut it all off” date, I’ve got the basic Heat Miser look going on.  In the mornings, I get out of bed, fumble for my glasses and head into the bathroom only to discover that I’ve gained 4 inches during the night.  I put out the flames with water and gel and hairspray and a couple hundred swear words. 
After the Heat Miser stage, I get to the Baseball Cap.  In this gorgeous style, that extra acre of hair sprouting from my forehead grows forward, not down, and melds itself into something resembling the bill of a baseball cap.  Convenient at ball games, and stunning, I suppose, but not in an attractive way.  In this stage, I resort to wearing an actual baseball cap or stay indoors until I grow into the next stage, the full-blown Einstein.  At this level, my hair explodes all over my head in some cosmic detonation that I’m sure has something to do with the mass of my hair.  Here, I make lame jokes.  “Yeah, I look like Einstein, but I’m not smart like him.  Haw haw.” 
At thirteen weeks, my hair rivals Medusa’s.  If anyone laughs at me, I’ll turn them to stone.
As my hair grows and reasserts it independence, even demanding its own pillow at night, I swear it’s laughing at my folly.  And all those teenage feelings of hair ineptitude come rushing back in.
My hair needs help.  My hair needs a magic wand to make it grow out all at once.  My hair needs some pixie dust. 
My hair needs a grow button. 
* * *
My mother wouldn’t allow my sisters and me to have Barbie dolls.  Her reasoning, rightly so, was that Barbie dolls set for girls an unattainable standard.  But we still had dolls, plenty of them.  I had a Kiddle doll, which, soon after acquiring, I fed to the dog.  Thereafter, poor Kiddle limped around on half a leg, a permanent dazed look in her eyes. 
But my sisters, being older, had Crissy dolls: those magical dolls with the growing hair.  There was a painful-looking plastic dial planted in the center of poor Crissy’s back.  To shorten her hair, you spun the dial clockwise, thus drawing her locks through a hole into the top of her head and into her body.  Stab poor Crissy in her belly button, give her short hair a good tugging, and voila! Long, flowing tresses.  Instantaneous beauty.  For a working-girl look, you could take Crissy’s hair to about shoulder length and then for a night on the town, just give a yank and she’d have hair down to her ankles.
 Wow.
One of my sisters, she must have been in an industrious mood that day, decided to actually wash poor Crissy’s hair.  And, predictably, Crissy’s hair melted into a thick tangled mass of black piled upon her head.  No matter how much my sister spun that dial, no matter how hard she pushed her belly button, Crissy’s hair situation could not be resolved.  Crissy had horrible hair.  Crissy had my hair.  Yes, Crissy’s reign of beauty had suddenly come to a startling end.  I swear my Kiddle doll stood just a little bit taller on her gimpy leg that day. 
* * *
Only once did I succeed in growing my hair out.  I proceeded through the various stages: Heat Miser, Baseball Cap, Einstein, Medusa.  For months, I pinned that hair back, watching it grow bigger and taller, a volcano threatening to erupt past the thousands of pins and combs and gallons of hair spray required to keep it in position.  Eventually, it evolved into a new stage, a stage whose name was coined by my sister: The Aunt Bee (think Andy Griffith) Look.
But finally, after over eighteen months, my hair flowed past my shoulders again.  I was triumphant.  I could flip that hair behind my shoulder.  And did.  Often.
But my newborn son yanked at my hair.  He spit up in it.  He rubbed cereal into it.
After a year, I cut it all off.
“How does this look, hon?”  Linda held the scissors above my head.  I glanced at myself in the mirror.  I had reverted from Baseball Cap to the Heat Miser.  Who was I kidding?  I would never have a grow button to magically turn my hair from spiky to long and flowing.  And did I really want to go through those stages all over again, all the way to Aunt Bee? 
No.  It was time I learned to accept myself.
“Just cut it all off,” I said to Linda.
Her hands fluttered nervously about my head.  “You sure, hon?”
“Yep.”  It was time to embrace my inner elf. 
Linda resumed her snipping, cutting the Miser down to size.
Fully shorn, I paid Linda and left, repeating the mantra to myself: Accept myself.  Embrace my inner elf.  Accept myself… Once outside the salon, I fluffed my hair, ran my fingers through it, the way you can’t in front of a stylist for fear of giving offense.  I stopped before a shop window to glance at my reflection, to stare at my forty-three year old elfish self.  I turned to the side.  Glanced at the…
Wait a minute.  Was that my BUTT?  How did it get so big? 
Hell, I don’t need a grow button.

I need a shrink ray.


Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Growing Pains

Friday, February 18, 2011

Growing Pains

“Great hair,” Linda exclaimed profusely, elongating her words the way I wished I could lengthen my hair.  “Greeeeat hair.”
“You know?”  I caught the stylist’s eye in the mirror.  “I just wanted a trim?”
“Such body.”  Snip.  Snip.  Snip.  She continued the assault on my head.  Scissors whisked efficiently around me in a whirl; a flurry of hair thickened the air.  “Must be nice.”
I watched with dismay as heavy locks of hair thudded to the floor.  “I’m kind of trying to grow it out a little?” 
“Just. Terrific. Hair.”
For over thirty years, I’ve been trying to grow out my hair, this latest attempt all gone in a poof.  Or rather a series of snips.

* * * 

One bright afternoon in May—I was no more than ten—I took a chair to the patio and handed my mother the scissors.  She lifted one of the long braids, plaited tightly in the style of my heroine, Laura Ingalls.  “Are you sure?”
“Yep.”  I pictured the new me, older, more mature, a sleek bob replacing the braids; city replacing the country.
Mom held the scissors to my hair.  “Ready?”
“Yep.”
Snip.
Boing!  Yes!  My hair actually boinged!  Released from the heavy curtain it'd been toting around for years, my hair suddenly sprung to life. 
In a flash, my mother cut off the next braid.  “Do you want to keep them, to remember your hair by?”  She held up the headless braids, still bound up at one end in elastics. 
“No.”  I stood from the chair.  “I’ll remember it when it  grows back.”  My hair and I boinged our way into the bathroom to inspect the new me. 
The new me didn’t have cute, straight hair.  The new me didn’t have a sleek bob.  The new me had weird hair, insane hair: The area just above my forehead suddenly developed millions of spare follicles, causing an extra acre of hair to grow there.  Hair spiked this way and that, no two pieces ever united.  And no amount of styling, gel, hairspray or cutting could tame the beast upon my head.
I resorted to tears.  My mother took me to a salon.  “I’m thinking,” the stylist said, I could tell she was trying not to laugh, “a Dorothy Hammil?” 
Snip. 
Dorothy Hammil.  Nice cut, when you’re spinning in circles at about 100 miles an hour.  But not nice for someone with a hump of spare hair sprouting from her forehead. 
“You’ll appreciate it when you’re older,” the stylist told me, pushing the hump into place and securing it with industrial-strength spray.
Eventually, after several years of hair despair, I abandoned Dorothy and settled into a style of my own: the “cut it all off” pixie.  By effectively mowing down the shrub that was my hair, I had won the battle.  But the victory was hollow: Ever since that day in May, I’d imagined myself with long, silky tresses flowing down my back.  With long hair, I’d be elegant, stunning.  I’d look like all of my friends, who’d kept their hair long throughout the fourth grade and into the middle school.  With long hair, I’d be able to casually toss my locks over my shoulder, thus attracting the attention of the boys around me.  But instead, I had…elf.  A tallish elf, to be sure.  But an elf nonetheless.  Elves are cute.  Elves are mischievous.  Elves are not stunning.  Elves wear funny hats and funny clothes and have bells on their shoes.  Elves are...well, elves.  Who wants to look like that?
So at least three times a year, when I’m feeling especially adventurous, perhaps crazy is a better term, I try to grow my hair out.  Strange times.  Strange times indeed.  As my hair grows, it passes through some of its own, unique styles.  Caution: Do not try these at home…
Three or four weeks past the scheduled “cut it all off” date, I’ve got the basic Heat Miser look going on.  In the mornings, I get out of bed, fumble for my glasses and head into the bathroom only to discover that I’ve gained 4 inches during the night.  I put out the flames with water and gel and hairspray and a couple hundred swear words. 
After the Heat Miser stage, I get to the Baseball Cap.  In this gorgeous style, that extra acre of hair sprouting from my forehead grows forward, not down, and melds itself into something resembling the bill of a baseball cap.  Convenient at ball games, and stunning, I suppose, but not in an attractive way.  In this stage, I resort to wearing an actual baseball cap or stay indoors until I grow into the next stage, the full-blown Einstein.  At this level, my hair explodes all over my head in some cosmic detonation that I’m sure has something to do with the mass of my hair.  Here, I make lame jokes.  “Yeah, I look like Einstein, but I’m not smart like him.  Haw haw.” 
At thirteen weeks, my hair rivals Medusa’s.  If anyone laughs at me, I’ll turn them to stone.
As my hair grows and reasserts it independence, even demanding its own pillow at night, I swear it’s laughing at my folly.  And all those teenage feelings of hair ineptitude come rushing back in.
My hair needs help.  My hair needs a magic wand to make it grow out all at once.  My hair needs some pixie dust. 
My hair needs a grow button. 
* * *
My mother wouldn’t allow my sisters and me to have Barbie dolls.  Her reasoning, rightly so, was that Barbie dolls set for girls an unattainable standard.  But we still had dolls, plenty of them.  I had a Kiddle doll, which, soon after acquiring, I fed to the dog.  Thereafter, poor Kiddle limped around on half a leg, a permanent dazed look in her eyes. 
But my sisters, being older, had Crissy dolls: those magical dolls with the growing hair.  There was a painful-looking plastic dial planted in the center of poor Crissy’s back.  To shorten her hair, you spun the dial clockwise, thus drawing her locks through a hole into the top of her head and into her body.  Stab poor Crissy in her belly button, give her short hair a good tugging, and voila! Long, flowing tresses.  Instantaneous beauty.  For a working-girl look, you could take Crissy’s hair to about shoulder length and then for a night on the town, just give a yank and she’d have hair down to her ankles.
 Wow.
One of my sisters, she must have been in an industrious mood that day, decided to actually wash poor Crissy’s hair.  And, predictably, Crissy’s hair melted into a thick tangled mass of black piled upon her head.  No matter how much my sister spun that dial, no matter how hard she pushed her belly button, Crissy’s hair situation could not be resolved.  Crissy had horrible hair.  Crissy had my hair.  Yes, Crissy’s reign of beauty had suddenly come to a startling end.  I swear my Kiddle doll stood just a little bit taller on her gimpy leg that day. 
* * *
Only once did I succeed in growing my hair out.  I proceeded through the various stages: Heat Miser, Baseball Cap, Einstein, Medusa.  For months, I pinned that hair back, watching it grow bigger and taller, a volcano threatening to erupt past the thousands of pins and combs and gallons of hair spray required to keep it in position.  Eventually, it evolved into a new stage, a stage whose name was coined by my sister: The Aunt Bee (think Andy Griffith) Look.
But finally, after over eighteen months, my hair flowed past my shoulders again.  I was triumphant.  I could flip that hair behind my shoulder.  And did.  Often.
But my newborn son yanked at my hair.  He spit up in it.  He rubbed cereal into it.
After a year, I cut it all off.
“How does this look, hon?”  Linda held the scissors above my head.  I glanced at myself in the mirror.  I had reverted from Baseball Cap to the Heat Miser.  Who was I kidding?  I would never have a grow button to magically turn my hair from spiky to long and flowing.  And did I really want to go through those stages all over again, all the way to Aunt Bee? 
No.  It was time I learned to accept myself.
“Just cut it all off,” I said to Linda.
Her hands fluttered nervously about my head.  “You sure, hon?”
“Yep.”  It was time to embrace my inner elf. 
Linda resumed her snipping, cutting the Miser down to size.
Fully shorn, I paid Linda and left, repeating the mantra to myself: Accept myself.  Embrace my inner elf.  Accept myself… Once outside the salon, I fluffed my hair, ran my fingers through it, the way you can’t in front of a stylist for fear of giving offense.  I stopped before a shop window to glance at my reflection, to stare at my forty-three year old elfish self.  I turned to the side.  Glanced at the…
Wait a minute.  Was that my BUTT?  How did it get so big? 
Hell, I don’t need a grow button.

I need a shrink ray.


Labels: ,

31 Comments:

At February 18, 2011 at 10:14 AM , Blogger Leslie said...

OMG - I'm hurting I'm laughing so hard! All the memories came flooding back - you definitely have to submit this somewhere!

 
At February 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM , Blogger Liz said...

Aunt Kelly, you are an amazing writer! I can totally relate to this entry too! I remember that before freshman year of high school, I decided to get my hair cut into a shorter style. The salon I went to messed my hair up thought and I had to go to a different salon the next day. My hair ended up being shorter than I wanted after that.

I'm really enjoying your blog!

 
At May 11, 2011 at 6:14 AM , Anonymous Leslie said...

OMG - I'm hurting I'm laughing so hard! All the memories came flooding back - you definitely have to submit this somewhere!

 
At May 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM , Anonymous Arlett from Chasing Joy said...

I love this. I espcially can relate to not adjusting your hair until out of the stylists sights. I do this too. Everytime :-)

 
At May 21, 2011 at 3:07 PM , Anonymous Arlett from Chasing Joy said...

Bye the way I'm stopping bye frome TRDC :-)

 
At May 21, 2011 at 3:33 PM , Anonymous Julieemoore said...

This is one of the wittiest writings I've read in a while. I'm talking real life humor. I can so relate to so many of the things you described, as I am a 40ish woman also. I had the Chrissy doll, and my hair will not grow long. It isn't big hair it's very fine, thin hair that will not grow even to my shoulders. Loved this post! Coming over from TRDC.

 
At May 21, 2011 at 4:27 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! Got my hair chopped off again today, so I thought this posting would be appropriate. Glad you liked it. And man, I really wanted one of those Chrissy dolls.

 
At May 21, 2011 at 4:28 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Isn't that silly? Like we're afraid of hurting someone's feelings, so we go around with this funky looking hairdo until we can get away and fix it the way we want it.

 
At May 21, 2011 at 4:44 PM , Anonymous Kelly said...

I, too, had a Chrissy doll when I was a little girl. I envied her long hair. All the adults around me had decided that I would look better with a pixie cut. It suited my face they said. Well, I am now 40ish and my hair is past my shoulders. It is my one last attempt at having long hair. lol. Thanks for the memories.

 
At May 21, 2011 at 5:22 PM , Anonymous Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Congrats! I just got mine hacked off again.

 
At December 20, 2011 at 7:49 AM , Anonymous Jamie Walker said...

Embracing your inner elf.... sooooo funny! I loved this post really. I have the same battles with my hair - the hair that everyone loves except me. It's just never felt right but I've got too many kids to care now! So glad you linked up with us!

 
At December 20, 2011 at 9:27 AM , Anonymous Jennifer S. said...

Sounds like the battle my sister has had with her hair! Very funny! Pass the shrink ray my way when you're done, please:)

 
At December 20, 2011 at 3:41 PM , Anonymous A Morning Grouch said...

Guys have it so much easier in the hair dept, don't they? If you've kept going back to your pixie look it must suit you well. When I worked as a receptionist at a hair salon my hair kept getting shorter and shorter and shorter...i found I liked it either really short or really long - but that in between stage can be horrid.

 
At December 20, 2011 at 8:15 PM , Anonymous Mommy Twocents said...

Lucky for me I have long curly hair that I just wad up on top of my head every single day. I know it's time to cut it when I go through a bottle of conditioner in a week. (cuz my ends are all dry and frizzy and get knotted together).

Great post! Thanks so much for sharing it with us for Ghosts of Blogging Past! :)

 
At December 21, 2011 at 4:13 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading!

 
At December 21, 2011 at 4:14 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Ha ha. I think I broke the shrink ray.

 
At December 21, 2011 at 4:14 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading!

 
At April 24, 2012 at 10:02 AM , Anonymous Tara R. said...

I can totally sympathize, except I have baby fine hair that refuses to anything. If it's short, I can at least plaster it to my head. Right now it's in the process of growing out so I can pull it back into a pony tail then hide under a ball cap.

 
At April 24, 2012 at 7:11 PM , Anonymous Morgan Dragonwillow said...

I am laughing so hard! I love this! You are a wonderful writer. I hope you are working on something for print because I would so read it!

 
At April 25, 2012 at 12:01 PM , Anonymous Renee McKinley said...

Great post! It gave me a case of the giggles, especially at the end.

Your hair is the opposite of mine. At 55 I just had my long hair cut above my shoulders for the first time since about 2cd grade. Because the gray hair does not have the same personality as my original fine, lazy locks.

 
At April 27, 2012 at 1:33 PM , Anonymous Victoria said...

My mother always told me to only ever let a male hairdresser because female hairdressers always say "haven't you got lovely long hair" then hack it all off.
I really enjoyed this post, made me laugh out loud
:-D

 
At April 28, 2012 at 7:31 PM , Anonymous Sandrasfiberworks said...

lol. love this. didn't know hair could boing but I will listen to my own next time I get snipped.

 
At April 28, 2012 at 7:41 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Oh, yes. My hair boings. Scary. Thanks for reading.

 
At April 28, 2012 at 7:41 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading: Male or female, they hack it off.

 
At April 28, 2012 at 7:42 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Renee - Two of my children have inherited my hair - Not a fun thing for them.

 
At April 28, 2012 at 7:42 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Morgan.

 
At April 28, 2012 at 7:43 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Just had it all cut off today - No pony tails for at least a year!

 
At September 22, 2012 at 10:46 AM , Anonymous Lorinda J. Taylor said...

That's one of the funniest posts I've read for a long time - although I'm sure for you it's funny-painful! Your hair situation, sticking up at the front, reminded me of the wordless comic strip Lio, where Lio and his father both have that kind of hair!

 
At September 22, 2012 at 11:57 AM , Anonymous S.L. Bartlett said...

I have always had long hair. The one time, when I was about 14 years old, when I knuckled under my mother's pleas, I got it cut into the pixie style.
I hated it...so much!
So, from then on, I've kept long hair. I'm in my fifties, and a lot of people have pleaded with me to cut it, stating "Old Ladies do not have long hair!"
Well, THIS old lady does. I will be 99 years old with two grey hairs on my bald head, but they will be long! hehehehe
I loved this article, having my own issues with my hair which is as rebellious as I am. Thanks for the very enjoyable read.

 
At September 22, 2012 at 12:38 PM , Anonymous Diane Carlisle said...

I enjoyed reading about your hair and its unruly attitude. I think it's a hilarious piece, but I'm not laughing at you. You made me laugh at your circumstances and you are especially beautiful for sharing it. Thank you!

 
At September 22, 2012 at 5:14 PM , Anonymous Sandra Tyler said...

Oh, this was WONDERFUL. Just loved the haircutting scenes. Save that for a book! And we must be the same generation, as I remember those scary dolls with the dials in the back...and kiddie dolls. I did have barbies, but what I remember was the barbie camper that I used for my little toy animals. I quickly lost interest in the actual barbie dolls, though I loved baby dolls. Oh! And my own hair issue was I wanted straight hair. So my mother used to take me to this weird place in Queens where he combed pink gue through my hair and it was straight as a board-- really. Not a curve to the ends. Like someone had taken an ax to me. Maybe I need to write a blog post on that!

 

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