This blog entry is the third part of a continuing series.
If you don’t know what’s going on, click here to catch up.
AMPUTATE THE HAIR!
Hair is heavy.
Not as in, “Whoa, man, that’s heavy” (because then we’d be back in the 60’s), but as in, “Fucking shitnipples, my hair is so heavy it’s pulling my neck vertebrae out of wack.” That kind of heavy.
Most people don’t notice the weight of their hair much, because most people don’t grow their hair down past their asses. I, however, do. In fact, I let it grow so long, there eventually comes a time when I have to sling it over the front of my shoulder and hold it while I sit on the toilet, just so I don’t pee on it. (‘Member when I said two posts ago we were gonna get real? I warned you.) This has earned me the positively adorable nickname on Twitter: “Pee Hair”. Love that one. Stay classy, Twitter.
So, every five years or so I decide to let my hair grow this long –
– in order to donate it to a charity that makes wigs out of it – wigs for bald kids who either have alopecia or have endured chemo. My rationale is: I got it, I can grow it, and eventually I’m gonna chop it off anyway, so why not try to really stretch it out until I can’t stand it anymore and give some little girl long hair?
‘Cause I loved having long hair as a girl. You could do stuff with it: braid it, curl it, put it in a ponytail, pigtails, etc. Not that I ever did any of those things — I barely even brushed it — but the point is I could’ve. Long hair at least made me feel like a girl, and for a kid like me, who much preferred Battleship to Barbie, it was a reassuring reminder that No, you are not going to wake up tomorrow morning with a penis.
Which was a serious relief, since I was a tomboy, but I sure as hell didn’t want to be a boy. Boys were clumsy and stunk and their private parts were all dangly and stupid-looking and if you just barely punched ‘em in the crotch they hit the ground like those fainting goats. Pff. What a ridiculous weakness when it came to fighting. I was glad I was a girl, and proud of the long hair that set me apart from the guys I hung out with.
And so I didn’t cut my hair – aside from split-end trimmings – until I was… are you ready for this?
27 years old.
It’s true. My long hair had become part of the story of Me; part of that internal checklist of qualities that make you You. Along with my blue eyes, the scar on my left knee, a really loud laugh that my dad to this day still calls my “chicken cackle,” a smart mouth, and an urge to read anything put in front of me. (Thanks to my mom’s penchant for true-crime books, this meant I’d read Helter Skelter by the time I was 10. Think it had anything to do with the way I turned out? Me neither.)
I had the same long, straight, flat hair for 27 years. Second grade, 8th grade, senior class photo, college, my first “real” job, my first actual real job on “Angel.” All with the same hairstyle, which was no style: just long, usually parted in the middle.
Hair is one of those major markers of your overall “look,” including your height, weight, race, age, face, and taste in clothing. Think I’m kidding? With the exception of the clothing, all of those identifiers can be found on your driver’s license. Y’know, that thing you hand to the police when they pull you over to identify you, to make sure you’re not a serial killer? (Some folks say they do it to give you speeding tickets, but c’mon. Like the police have nothing better to do? Everything on TV tells me the police are singlemindedly focused on hunting down serial killers. Also, I read it in Helter Skelter.)
Ergo, changing your hair can change how you think and feel about yourself, it can change how other people perceive you – it can change how you think others perceive you – all of which can then change who You are.
Of course, I didn’t know any of this until I chopped it all off the first time.
Now, I’ll be perfectly upfront about it: when she finally clipped through the last strands of that long, long braid and held it up in front of me like a trophy? I cried like a little bitch.
I felt like I was losing a part of who I was. That particular stretch of hair – maybe two feet long – had been attached to my scalp for six years. Do you know how much life can be lived in six years? People can get married, have kids, get divorced and move to Botswana in six years. Why Botswana? First weird name I could think of.
Six years is a long fucking time – and all that time – all that life – had just been severed from my head. Not to mention I was losing a part of Me that had been Me for my entire existence.
But the first thing I noticed after the tears stopped?
My head felt so much lighter. It was like I’d been carrying around all this weighty baggage without even knowing it, and now I could put it down and walk away. I felt as if someone had unchained me from a wall I hadn’t realized I was fettered to.
It felt… good.
So I immediately dyed it blue.
Because if you’re not going to be You anymore, you leave You as far, far behind as possible. I think a lot of people – women especially – understand this: that drastically changing your hair is akin to becoming a different person. Some of us will do it after a break-up, or after leaving a job, or because we’re depressed. We just want to be Not-Me for a while. We want to be someone else, someone without all that baggage being dragged ‘round by our follicles.
For about five years after that, I wore my hair short (in a cascade of colors, because turns out blue is a son of a whore to maintain). In fact, though it started shoulder-length, I kept cutting it shorter and shorter until finally it was above my chin. This looks fantastic on pixie-girls with delicate bone structure, but I have a big face with big features so it turned out tiny hair was not a good look for me. Truthfully, I sorta resembled Alice the Goon from Popeye:
Which is why I started to let it grow out again. And grow out, and out, and out, until finally it was past my shoulders, at which point I thought, “It’s long already. Might as well grow it out as long as I can stand it so I can donate it again.”
So I did.
I let it grow from 2006 to 2012, and on April 30, I cut it off:
Of course, I didn’t cut it off. (Shit, you wanna see Alice the Goon, give me a pair of sharpened scissors.) No, this trophy-taking was done by a very nice man named Henry Peck, at GOO Salon. (You can glimpse him in the background, with his fabulous blue hair.) As you can see from the photo, this time I am not crying. I am laughing with joy to be rid of the extra tonnage of hair I’d been lugging around for six years – and the life-baggage attached to it.
It makes me think snakes have the right idea – to periodically just shed all the shit you’ve been carrying and start off in a new skin.
Please understand, it’s a good cause, and I’m happy to do it – but once you’re committed, it’s not like you can change your mind in six months. Six months is only three inches of hair — if that — and unless some poor bald kid is dreaming of a wig that looks like a buzz-cut, you’re not gonna be doing him much good.
This is six years of hair you’re seeing here:
And while I’d love to say that the donation and pilot season just happened to coincide, I’d also really love to believe my readers would call “Bullshit!”, since it is clearly obvious that the timing was shamelessly opportunistic. I may be all holy-holy-I-donate-my-hair-ommmm, but I also wanted a new look for The Pilot Season Experiment – and my long hippie hair was way past its expiration date.
See, when you go to meetings during pilot season, do you know what you can do with hair that long? Two things:
1) Let it stay down, and keep it nicely brushed.
This seems like a reasonable option, except for the fact that you’ll look like a Manson Girl sans swastika (I really have read other books, I swear) – or else a granola-gnawing hippie who’ll probably insist on ordering from vegan restaurants every day while trying to get the rest of the writing staff to do a “cleanse” with you.
Yeah, let’s hire that chick.
2) Put your massive quantity of hair up into some 87-bobbypinned architectural construction that takes an hour to erect. Possibly add butterfly hair clips.
Because that’s not pretentious and artsy. Dude, I’d hate that bitch.
Thus the Crystal Gale hair disappeared and was donated, to be replaced by scary superhero hair. Once I got home, and his shock wore off, and his larynx started to work again, The Finance began calling me The Copper Butterfly:
Personally, I think that’s a kickass superhero nickname (better than “Pee Hair,” that’s for sure), and the newness of the cut and color has imparted a kind of “Whee! I’m 27 again! What’s that thing y’all call ‘responsibility’?” feeling. It’s always nice to get that still-in-your-20’s rush every once in a while.
If the rest of me wasn’t close to 40, I’d’ve gone out partying and having promiscuous sex. As it was, I came home from the salon and took a very satisfying middle-aged nap.
After all, now I had to face up to what was possibly the most terrifying phase of The Pilot Season Experiment:
Wanna keep reading The Pilot Season Experiment?