Why My Hair is Long

Getting a haircut for me is like going to the car wash. I know I should, it’s good for me, I’ll look much better, but it’s such a chore... it’s just going to grow out again... what’s the point, really? It doesn’t look that bad and I have no idea what kind of haircut to get.

That last excuse is by far my most vexing. I pore over magazines and fashion ads. I look at my trendy friends, evaluating the shape of a face, the texture of hair... the all over look.

Am I a short hair person? That’d be such a change. Everyone will stare. I don’t know if I can take the attention. Besides, what would I do with all my shampoo and conditioner and various creams and itchy scalp unguents... not to mention myriad clips, bands, and pointy things for buns?

I also hate sitting in the chair with whatever stylist deigns to lay hands on my head peering over me. Always looking at me in stern judgment. I feel like I’m at confession.

"Bless me, stylist, for I have sinned.
It has been 8 months since my last haircut.
In this time, I have blow-dried 200 times.
I have put my hair in a ponytail while still wet 7 times.
I have been in a convertible with the top down 11 times... no, (shake head in shame) there was no scarf.
I have used cheap, supermarket conditioner instead of the premium brand you sell here in your salon."

The Stylist gives me a sneer and a long lecture about the damage of wind and the sun and cheap ponytail holders. And all the while, People around me are sitting, knowing what they want, chatting it up, happily being primped and massaged, so very fashion-aware. And they look so good.

Maybe I should just do it myself.

A derogatory term for guys with long hair, especially hippies. Usually used by right-wingers.

Long hair is also a standard geek/hacker trait- perhaps it's the efficiency, perhaps it's the individuality, perhaps they just like the way it looks.

From what I've seen/heard, women dig guys with long hair, but I have yet to see any proof of that. It certainly hasn't helped me.

Without long hair, I would be dead.

It’s how people tend to remember and recognize me. In fact, it’s how I tend to identify myself. But apart from these obvious reasons, my hair saved my life.

Everyone needs something to live for. Who cares if this something is as frivolous as hair (this follows kaytay’s ”as long as you’re free” ethic) - if it works, use it. The following is a semi-fictional personal story of my will to survive.

Once upon a time, in the year nineteen hundred and ninety eight, a young girl was faced with a daunting decision. Did she want to live, or did she want to die? Easy enough to decide – for most people, anyway. The need to survive is implanted deep in the human brain. But somehow, the girl’s brain was missing this default. She wanted to die. And she picked the most slow, terrible, scary, and painful way to do it. Only fitting.

A few weeks later, or perhaps it was months, the girl began to notice the effects of her slow suicide. Only two were good. All were dangerous. But the one effect that hurt her most emotionally was the loss of her hair. Her once-beautiful hair, cascading down her back past her bottom, was falling out by the handful. Only she had the power to stop it from disappearing completely, even if it mean sacrificing her dream.

She took the only option presented at the time.

It was time to start taking care of herself once again.

Following this remarkable change, the girl quickly regained her health and soon returned to a normal life. Long hair; a hero.

My hair used to be very long. Long enough for people to comment on it. Long enough for double braids to sweep the ground if bent at the waist to scoop up my pudgy little son. Long enough to slam in a door or become wound in baby fingers or make the wheels in the vacuum cleaner cease to rotate. Long enough to require ten minutes of untangling. To keep it from knotting again I would lay on the bed with my head hanging off the side, braiding and staring at the ceiling. The braid it made was very thick. Stylists commented on the amount of hair on my head as though they should get more than the standard fee for all the extra snipping. It is a light color, sometimes like honey other times ashy looking, darker on the underside where the sunlight can not reach. When braided all the browns and blondes combined in a striking, thick and very heavy hairdo. I could touch my ass with my hair if I looked up. If I was cold I could let it down and I didn’t need a sweater. If I had ever been stuck in a tower, Rapunzle-like, I could have woven my own hair into a rope, strand by strand, then tied it to the bed frame and lowered myself out the window (why didn’t she think of that?)

Although I liked my hair in theory, in practice I found it heavy and kind of hard to manage. I have only one hair clip that can hold it all. It has a springy way about it and was made in France. It used to be brown but I am not fond of brown as everyday wear, so I painted it black with wee purple, red and blue flowers. When I am bored I take this clip out and play with the spring mechanism, squeezing the little silver prongs and watching the metal bar pop up. For some reason this is really satisfying to me. If I lose track of this clip I freak out. Like my glasses and my wedding ring it has taken it’s place among my necessary hardware. I have been wearing it nearly ever day for more than two years. It started around the time I became a Mom and all my pretty hairs became a liability. I was almost surprised how much my children liked to grab hold of my hair. Yanking a whole braid is not so unpleasant, but when they only pull a few hairs at a time it is painful and I make a host of silly sounds, which, as it turns out, only makes hair pulling more fun.

And yet I let it reach a ridiculous length. Not quite Crystal Gayle bit still ludicrously long. Requiring much brushing and shampoo, a giant gob of conditioner and a special brush to combat static, only to be wound into a knot and affixed to my head, or braided and constantly flipped out of my way. Wearing it down was out of the question. God forbid I should try to leave it down and then drive with the windows open or else I might end up causing an accident. At the very least the ends would whip into my face like needles.

So, considering that, why did I keep it? Just because I grew it? Even though it kind of made me look like a washed out hippie and did not really compliment my face. I struggled with this question for along time. I could not seem to cut it off. Finally, my practical side beckoned me – I was shedding. The hair would make its way into the strangest places, hairs that were two and a half feet long wound up in salads, wound around toes and fingers and would somehow weave themselves into upholstery. One day my husband found one in his underwear and after a few uncomfortable moments of extraction raised his eyebrow and asked me to quit giggling.

Suffice it to say, one day I had finally had enough and I double braided my hair and, deep breath, cut it off. But it did not hack off in one swift separation. I had to use a sawing motion that took a few minutes per braid. It was almost like amputating my hair from my head. My daughter made a gasp when the first braid came off in my hand, “Mommy! You broke your hair.” It was actually kind of sad.

I am no stranger to the instant radical change of a new hairdo. I have had a buzz cut, a pixie, the modified Crystal Gayle, the shiny blue-black bob (think Crying Game), Ronald McDonald red (courtesy of henna left on far too long), and the terrible teased and spray frozen Kentucky waterfall. For now, my hair suits me. It is easy to brush. It still fits in my clip. It seems less prone to end up in my food. Best of all, my head feels lighter. I am still attached to my hair, but it is no longer attached to me. It is a lavender smelling, glossy pile of rope, and a personal history, tamed and smoothed out. Managed. Finally.

After walking the beach, I got the largest knot in my hair. And while I was painstakingly combing it out, witnessing strands upon strands hit the floor, I was reminded of an adolescent characteristic of my younger sister.

When she was a wee girl, my sister always got chewing gum stuck in her hair. One minute she'd be chewing it; the next, she'd be wearing it. I don't know what the problem was -- aerodynamic troubles maybe -- but my mom would have to constantly snip away at her locks.

One summer, my mom had to snip away so much hair, that my sister was left with the most fascinating hairdo. See, she had these long strands of blond hair, alternated with several patches of... well.. crew cuts. Kind of a rock-star-meets-U.S.-Marine effect.

Alas, my mom rid the house of chewing gum but, being the trouper that she is, elected to keep my sister. My mom can be quite sentimental and we're the better off for it.

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