Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In A Nutshell

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.

20. My hairstyles and natural hair color growing up were.

It was always red. Mama says it was like a copper penny when I was born. Because my mother was a brunette and my father was a strawberry blond, and the ice man was a redhead (as were both of my grandfathers and my great-aunt), the joke when Mama was pregnant with me was that my father didn't care if I was a boy or a girl, so long as I wasn't a redhead. And, as I've mentioned before, when I was nine and Mama and my black haired step-father took Forrest with his brown hair and me with my red hair, into the restaurant of the Monte Leon Hotel in New Orleans, the red haired hostess, as she was seating us, asked me where I got my lovely red hair and, into the quiet dignity of a first class restaurant, I piped up, "Daddy always did say we had a red headed ice man." I understand that quiet and restrained pandemonium ensued.

I wore it in ringlets, just like Shirley Temple, when I was young. Well, that's how it started out each day. My hair is very thick and not terribly coarse (for those of you who don't know, it is coarse hair that resists tangling) and wavy, so I started every morning with tangles. Mama, as I have mentioned, is in 17th gear all the time -- any task for her is a race to finish and get on to the next thing. Some people may rush around trying to get to tomorrow; Mama is aiming at the year 3759! Brushing tangles out of the hair of a tender scalped child is not the best skill fit with this. We started every day with her yanking and me screaming. I don't remember either of us ever suggesting cutting it, but one or both of us must have, because my father wouldn't hear of it. I got my first hair cut when I was nine. By the time I was six or so Mama had started braiding it, which was helpful, since it didn't tangle when braided and so I didn't look like a Dr. Seuss creature by 10 a.m.

From the time I was nine until I went to college, I kept it short and curly. When I lived with Auntie, we used to go every Friday after school and have our hair done, which usually included a trim. And then we would go home, and Punky would climb on the back of the couch and lick all the hair spray off of us both.

When I went to Berkeley, I stopped cutting it. I let it grow for eight years. Because it was so thick I couldn't just let it hang down my back -- I would have looked like I was walking around with a hay stack on my head. I remember I used to go in and have it thinned. And I usually wore at least part of it up. And then, just as I was getting ready to graduate and go out into the work world, I began to dream that it had been cut. At first those were nightmares -- a vandal had done it or I had brain surgery (and I thought of that when I was in California visiting my mother and two [count them, 2] people on her soap opera had brain surgery and didn't get their hair even shaved at the entry point!). But, the dreams began to be more and more pleasant, and it began to creep into my waking mind. Eventually I cut it back to waist length, and then in a few months, to mid-back, then to shoulder. It took me two years to get to a pixie cut. One friend asked me if I had washed it in hot water, since it was shrinking.

I have let it grow as long as it wanted to three times since then, and every time I eventually dream about it (this last time it was strangling me) and cut it. Now, I usually go directly to the pixie cut, which startles people. Particularly since, by the time it is that long, the people I know may not have ever seen it short before.

It started getting a few gray hairs when I was in my mid-thirties. I really like the gray I have, and finally that hair is coarse. There is still some brownish auburn, but my face is framed in white and the last time I had it long, when I put it up, it looked like it was all white.

I really like my hair. I have always liked my hair. I wouldn't have any other hair for anything you could ever offer me. Well -- I might have liked it coarse enough not to tangle. But otherwise, my hair and my sense of humor and my eyes are the things about me that I am absolutely content with. I started to say my brains, as well -- and then I realized that I have always wanted to be able to draw and carry a tune, so I would augment my brains if I could. But not my eyes. Not my sense of humor. And, forever, not my hair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OOH I like this post about your hair. I envy you those curls even with the tangles as I always had stick straight hair as a child and until I started getting perms.
I was sooo jealous of Shirley Temple. I did so want her blonde curls.

So later on as I reached late adulthood I had perms and frostings and had blonde curles for a while :)