Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Face It: On Haircut Remorse

A friend once proposed a rival site to Facebook, called Face It.  People would only post when they were having a bad day and wanted commiseration. No vacation photos or cute children's antics allowed.  Face It posts are written in that spirit.  They are "complaining songs" to put it in the parlance of Winnie-the-Pooh.


My Dearest Maria,

Lately, I have been thinking about what our relationship will be like when you are a teenager. I imagine that your feelings about me will be complex. You will think:

She is my mother.  She gave me life...
....but she also gave me that haircut.

There it is, staring at you from the pages of our family album. Memories of (what I hope will be) a mostly golden childhood will flicker and grow wan. How you were ever happy with that on your head?  You will look at me with sad, solemn, brown eyes, and ask "why?"

So here's where I explain myself.

Once upon a time, you had more hair than any of the other babies in your peer group. I tried to corral it with bows and barrettes and tiny rubber bands, but it was too much. It hung in your eyes, stuck to your face, and generally resembled a haystack. One day, I sat you down and chopped it off. "Why didn't I do that months ago?" I asked myself. That day you looked like a toddler version of Jean d'Arc.  The cut was simple and striking.  A few days later, emboldened by my first success, I sat you down again, and did some fine cutting to give you my best version of the Vidal Sassoon stacked bob. The muses of the barber's art were with me that day--it looked well. People complimented you cute, "French" haircut, and asked where we'd had it done. I was pleased.

But from there, the muses left me. I tried to recreate that cut, only to find that my hands didn't know how. After each attempt, I said to myself, "next time, I'll find a professional." But as your hair grew back out, I'd forget my resolution, and remember that first chic cut. And so I'd find myself once again, scissors in hand, with the chant "Save the money!  Cut it yourself!" resounding in my head.

I see you now, thirteen-year-old Maria.  You are glaring at me.  "Mother as tragic artist" does not compute.  A little desperate, I do what no mother should and appeal to your vanity:

Well you know, Dear, any little girl can look cute in pigtails. It takes a really cute little girl to pull off the hairdo of a Norman knight on his way to subjugate the Saxons.

Norman knights on their way to subjugate the Saxons.

You're not appeased. I read accusation in every line of your face. It's too much. I snap.

Fine!  You had running nose that I couldn't keep up with. That hair needed to be gone. It was the boogies--the boogies made me do it!

There, thirteen-year-old daughter, an answer more awkward than any you imagined.  Be at peace.

This post is really an apology to my dearest Mum.  She chose the highly practical bowl-cut for me as a child, and thirteen-year-old Julia (and 27 year old Julia) have been known to gripe about it.  But the days of griping are over.  28 year old Julia understands.  Generational justice has been served.

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