I knew some of what to expect. Some people would stare. People who know me personally would have a cornucopia of opinions that they will gladly share. Others might assume I am gay and move on. But I've also noticed that I don't get panhandled anymore. I guess they're afraid I will make it into an issue and therefore make the act harder on everyone, when they could easily beg from the nice, normal looking chick in front of me. Not that I mind.

I would never have done it. You are much braver than me. A woman who works in our office but does not work with us stands in my doorway and laments that she has "sold out" while I have not given over to the corporate whore. She has a cut out photo of Trent Reznor taped to the keypad of her laptop, but that, these days, is as risky as she gets. And I believe her.

I still check out the boys in the park, but I'm invisible to them now. I'm just another health-conscious untouchable, not unlike any woman pushing 30. I might be a lonely lesbian on the track alone, or someone who is just really, really confused.

Aww…why did you go and do that?

Do people ever think when they speak? Like I did this by accident, that it wasn't precisely what I wanted, that I'm not (obviously) a five year old that was left alone with Daddy's clippers in the bathroom for too long? For all my efforts to convince people that I indeed have a brain and an intellect, it is all lost in a single question, one whose answer is automatically followed by a thin smile and a shrug.

Often, I feel now, that I am expected to do something else different. I'm expected to be unpredictable when merging into the right lane. I'm expected to be more violent at the drive thru window at Wendy's, or just more likely to do something people can't prepare for, simply because I have less hair. Like they can't figure me out now. I may look like a skinhead, or someone stepping out into some new religious path, maybe even someone who is dying and instead of waiting for the hair to fall out, killed the hair. Punks on Decatur Street look at me more like a fellow punk, while college kids at the Rue find themselves watching the back of my head in line. I don't dress any different. Other than my hair, I'm pretty dull looking.

In finite games, you play within the boundaries. In infinite games you play with the boundaries.

All around me, I am becoming aware of not the setting up or tearing down of stereotypes but the dismantling of them. I don't act any different, but maybe soon I will be. I never saw the shave as an effort to redefine myself, that it would envelop me in a costume so that I could be someone different. I just wanted to know what it felt like. And so, now I do.

I, too, am a recent inductee to the no hair club for women, and let me tell you I had no idea what a strange trip of inquiries it would invoke.

So, is it cancer?
This one's always a joke. Sometimes I almost say yes, almost almost almost, until I remember how disturbingly serious cancer is.
You look like... um... stammer...
My building maintenance guy, a sweet fellow, fumbled for a few minutes to try to find the right phrase. "A girl who... doesn't like boys..." "You mean like, a killer dyke?" Hee, hee. I get this, and the occasional considering look that signals it, more and more... I've stopped even trying to deny it - why bother? - and just take to gleefully informing my boyfriend from time to time that he's dating a lesbian who'll break his heart.
Why o why?
Everyone just has to know. Any other haircut gets me "oh, did you cut your hair? it looks nice.", but everyone neeeeeeds to know why I cut it really really short. Well, fair enough, I suppose. Head-shaving is representative of some big dramatic and quasi-religious catharsis, at least in popular culture, and I guess it's a little stunning to find in an otherwise mundane social relationship. Still, after the 27th time, it's hard to smile and say I just felt like it. I've fallen back to a few stand-bys:
I was just feeling a little light-headed.
It's cooler for the summer.
Oh, just time for a change.
Well, gee, it'd been two weeks, so it was time for a new hairstyle...
Oh, well, ever since I joined this cult...

oh, but it's not all bad:

...silence...
This is the reaction I like the most. The guys on the bus just don't LOOK! Yay! Perhaps a wistful glance now and then - maybe mourning the fact that god gave hairless lesbians breasts? Who knows! Who knows why they used to look! Who knows! Who knows! Boys are weird. But it's nice.
It looks nice. It brings out your face.
Thank you.

It's a strange, strange little play of reactions, both from the outside and the inside. Now that I'm used to a shorn head, now that I think of it when I conjure up the mental collage of "What do I look like?" I find I feel a little different. More confident walking down the street and more assertive at work towards the male bosses. It's like I'm Samsonella and the raw power and fact of my femininity was contained in my hair. Not my inner femaleness certainly, but certain gross aspects of the social fact of it - the absent-minded consideration of the possibilities of attack and harassment in public, the urge to be meek and subservient at work - have been drawn aside by the short hair. Bizarre and overdramatic. Yes. But so it goes. The profound catharsis and mind-altering effects associated with shaved hair in buddhist monks and the army and skinheads and dykes and on and on - maybe there's some truth to it. I feel a lot more tapped in to the whole hairless zeitgeist, anyhow.

So. Why did I shave my head? Well, it's cooler for the summer, and boy is it easy to take care of now. That's it.

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