05 March 2017

Every day is a bad hair day

I was born with a head full of wavy hair.

From that day forward to this, my hair has always been unruly. I know now that I have 6 cowlicks, all growing in different directions, lengths and speeds. In the summer it grows so fast that I have to get it cut every four weeks.

In all my life, I have never been able to get it to look neat. It’s virtually impossible to find someone to cut it so that it looks nice.

Having bad hair has always been a problem.

When I was a child, my mother used to nag me about my hair. “Your hair looks like a busted out mattress! DO something with it!”  What? Shave it off?  I haven’t the clue what to do with it.  But I didn’t have the wit to snap back with this retort, and probably would have been punished if I had. Shaving it may have made a temporary improvement in my appearance. But it would of course grown back, looking as it does now, as if a  trio of squirrels on LSD were nesting in it.

I was always being held accountable for my hair’s bad behavior.

I lived in South Korea for two years. South Koreans, being an exceptionally ‘pure’ population, (as opposed to mongrel me), all have hair that is black, straight and well behaved. The reason so many Koreans, both males and females ‘look alike’ ( I’m not stereotyping them) is that they all have the same hair, so there’s not much in the way of ‘fashion’. A bowl atop the head, a quick snip around their heads with scissors and voil`a, they are done, perfectly tonsured and neat as a pin.

I remember sitting in a Korean woman’s barber’s chair, hoping she could tame the hirsute beast atop my head. I heard her say (in Korean, which she was unaware I could speak) “this woman’s hair is crazy”.


Every picture of me shows a mass of hair that appears to be a black cloud of dust raised by a pair of battling bison.  Sometimes it looks like a giant muffin. Other times it grows wings beside each ear. I look like Bozo the clown. I have not one but TWO natural parts. One runs from my temple to just over my right ear to the back of my head. The other starts on the left side of my head and makes a dogleg at the top, making a hard right, where it ends in a cowlick. That one grows sideways across my forehead.

After I retired, I got a job that didn’t require me to look perfectly coiffed. Good thing, as my hair will never look anything but insane. One of my female co-workers started teasing me, calling me ‘cowlick girl’. Well, yeah. She had that right. Another female coworker claimed she’d been to a professional hair cutting school, and would I like her to try and make it behave?

Please? No problem. She tried. And tried. She gave me six haircuts in all. Every time they grew out in a different pattern. She stopped answering my phone calls for another appointment. I did manage to make one more. She refused to answer the doorbell. I know she was home. She was hiding from me. What a coward...why couldn't she just say I can't cut your hair anymore?

Being in the Army, I had to keep it short. This was helpful in that it made it easier to keep clean, but it never, ever looked right. That’s because haircutters would hide when they saw me walking into their salons.

While deployed to Iraq, I was unable to get my hair cut. It grew into a tangled mane that was totally un-military and hot as hell.
The Army usually provides each unit with a barber’s kit. The guys use it. They either shave or ‘buzz’-close crop-their heads in a war zone, for comfort and cleanliness. I would have done that but no one knew how to cut a woman’s hair.  I was miserable. When you live in the desert, you don’t have showers. You take cat baths out of a metal basin. Keeping your hair clean is pretty difficult.
One of my ‘attached’ soldiers (meaning, he was from a different Army post but was working with my unit) became our ‘barber’. I learned this when I saw him cutting my soldier's hair.
I asked him if he would shave my head. Really? Yes. I am so miserable.
 He looked around himself, and seeing that we were alone, asked me if I could keep a secret?

Yes, why?

Well, before he joined the Army, he’d been a lady’s hairdresser. No, he was not gay, but in American culture, a man who styles women’s hair is automatically considered to be gay..and in most cases, they are.

He said he would cut my hair ONLY IF I PROMISED not to tell the other guys that he cut it.

Oh, hell, that was easy. Please. I don’t care, I won't say a word,  just cut it, please.

The piles of hair at my feet looked as if I’d been at a sheep shearing. 
He must have taken six pounds of hair off my head. It felt great. 

When I returned from deployment, The Evil Sister...the one who'd always treated me like scum...insisted I get a 'perm'.
Still groggy, so to speak, from the 48 hour change from a desert war zone to a green Midwestern farm, I agreed.

BIG mistake. HUGE. I came out looking like Angela Davis, the Black Panther activist. Or, Grace Slick, the rock singer. My hair was  a huge dome of bubbled, tightly curled hair. I looked like a poodle on steroids. 

Because I've never learned what 'good' hair is, I am astounded at the comments the new hair cutter makes. 
They LOVE it. Oh my god, your hair. It's beautiful. It's thick, luscious,  it has 'body', look at these curls, it's a mane, you're like a lion, a horse. I'm in my sixties and don't have a grey hairIt's so weird to have someone run her hands through the mass, extolling its health. Then they begin to cut, and the conversation stops. I can see her in the mirror, manfully attacking the mane in front of her. Her scissors makes the same type of noise a hedge trimmer makes. The hair falls in masses, but still, there's hair. More hair. More hair. 

After a while, the scissors stops, the woman wipes the sweat from her brow and she says, I am so sorry. I have butchered you. I've never seen hair like yours. I even had one say, you don't have to pay me. 
Well, of course I do..and did. It's not her fault. I say,

"It's okay. I'm used to it. If you promise to keep it cut, I won't blame you for  the way it looks."
I have given up. Now all I do is keep it clean and run a brush through it in the morning, so I can say I DID brush my hair. I have a friend who cuts it now, with no promises other than she'll take off the overburden. That's all I ask. Sometimes it looks okay. Sometimes it looks insane. A ball cap covers it quite nicely.
As for the soldier who cut my hair-it was the best haircut I ever got in my life. 

I had to go to a combat zone to get the perfect haircut.

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