It’s hard to explain to someone who has never had long hair how horrible and annoying long hair can be, but let’s give it a shot. Imagine a cloud of gnats, hovering around your head. Like hair, gnats are drawn to exposed, moist areas, and like gnats, hair is retardedly difficult to shoo away. Your nose is constantly tickled, your vision blocked, your lips pursed.
“You have some beautiful hair!” the stylist cried in a thick Boston accent. “Oh my gawd, does it do this naturally? Like, it just air dries this way?”
“Yes, yes it does,” I smiled. Not for frickin’ long.
“Ooooooh my gawd. I hate you!” She tucked the bib into my collar. “So! What are we doing today, just a trim?”
“Ahh . . . nope. I want to look like this picture.”
“Whoa!” She jumped. “Um, that’s really, really short.”
“Like, really short.”
“Are you sure about this? Maybe we could go a little longer? I mean, you don’t want that length on the sides, do you?”
It’s funny, how growing your hair out necessitates the development of certain character traits. I’d become patient to a fault, rooted in indecision, helpless. It had been an attempt at conventional beauty and femininity, one that I could never quite get right. It represented uncertainty, and the desire to fit into a system I didn’t technically support. It represented all the days I’d fruitlessly waited for things to get better. I was sick of waiting.
Also, to be perfectly honest, I was just terrible about combing it — and I remembered the way my mom had handled that particular problem with me, some fifteen years ago.
“Bring it on,” I said.
She started lopping, inches at a time, and my head floated up to the ceiling like a helium balloon.