Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
May 12th, 2012 by Mere Smith

The Pilot Season Experiment — AMPUTATE THE HAIR!

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.


Step Two



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 –

Cousin Itt


– 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.

Really 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:

Me, Bruce Lee, and the scalp of our enemy.


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:

Looks like roadkill, doesn’t it?


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:

The psychotic stare is just for effect. Or is it?


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:


Step Three


Wanna keep reading The Pilot Season Experiment?


25 Responses to “The Pilot Season Experiment — AMPUTATE THE HAIR!”
  1. Thank you for the scary-eyed picture at the end, ’cause that pic of you smiling was really freaking me out.

  2. I love getting my long hair cut! Unfortunately, it’s getting more and more difficult for me to make it to 10 or 12 inches. If I sit down in a chair, turn my head and get whiplash because my hair is trapped between me and the chair, it’s usually gone within days. 😉

    • I hated sleeping on it. Having to lift your head and move your hair just to roll over, so that you don’t choke yourself to death with it…

      • peridot2 says

        I’ve donated my hair 3 times. The trick to sleeping with very long hair is braiding. That way it doesn’t go up your nose and tickle you awake or try to strangle you in your sleep like a python. 😉 Hair snakes can be scary.

  3. aboleyn says

    I am so happy not to have been the only ten year old that read Helter Skelter. I used to steal my mother and older sister’s books and read them under the covers. The hair looks great. When my younger sister was in high school and her hair was half black and half copper and she earned herself the nickname Duracell. I like the Copper Butterfly better.

    • Ah, a kindred spirit! I loved reading books that were decidedly outside my age range. Especially ones with sex, mental illness, violence, and death. And clearly it’s served me well here in Hellywood…

  4. Good for you for taking action and not sitting back and letting the world happen to you. I am a master procrastinator, it has been a good thing a few times but mostly it just keeps me in place. Speaking of keeping in place, spanx eh…several years ago I got a merry widow to wear with a bridesmaid suit and discovered it was great for my posture. Alas I outgrew it, not sure how big they make those things, I should look for another.

  5. Carole–they make merry widows and corsets in so many sizes. they are totally worth the price for some holding it in and boosting it up sexiness with or without clothes over them 😉

    Mere, I hate it, but the girl part of me was like “OMG I WANT TO PUT MAKEUP ON HER” because the first picture makes me want to use you for a doll.

    • OMG DON’T PUT MAKE UP ON ME! My oily skin positively repels it. Like, shoots it off my face and sometimes hits bystanders.

  6. I still remember the feeling of lightness when I had 2 1/2 feet of my (very) thick hair cut off the day before my 13th birthday. It had taken four years to grow from ear-length to where I could sit on it when it was out of braids – which only happened each morning when my mother braided it.

    Congratulations on your new look. I hope it does what you want it to do but more importantly I hope you are happy with the new look.

    I also read books outside my age group, partly because my sister was five years older and left her books around – not Helter Skelter, but I was reading Leon Uris when I was about 10 – also Shakespeare! Always have had eclectic tastes. 😉

    • Clearly you had better taste in books than I did. Then again, all I had was access to our school library (boring! no sex or death!) and EVERY TRUE-CRIME STORY EVER WRITTEN at home, thanks to my mom. I didn’t get into Shakespeare ’til I was at least 13.

  7. This was great, but I had no idea what part was up next…now I can’t wait!!

  8. Ah, your previously long heavy blonde hair looks much like what my cousin and I have. I manage to grow mine to my waist every other year out of laziness, really. My cousin grows hers out on purpose to donate or sell. I know exactly how it feels to carry that extra weight ON YOUR HEAD. It’s always surprising to me that I don’t realise how heavy it is until it’s gone!

    • You can grow that length every other year? Holy fuckballs! You must be the World’s Best Hair Donor!

  9. Lioness says

    My hair doesn’t grow that fast anymore and is decidedly thinner than it used to be but I keep it long because it is less trouble. I braid it and it is done for the day. But I love the cut of your hair now.

    • Thank you so much for the compliment! I have to admit, after six years of the same old thing, the “Copper Butterfly” even freaked me out for a couple days. But I’m used to it now. Still sorting out how to put it back, keep it out of my face, etc. — it was definitely easier to throw it back in a braid all day, like you do — but I expect I’ll eventually find some way of taming it. Eventually.

  10. […] STEP TWO – Hair today, gone tomorrow! (Ugh, that was awful. I hereby fire me from my own blog.) […]

  11. […] sure I wasn’t actively bleeding from the eyes.  This year: I got Botox, bought Spanx, cut my hair, wore make-up, dressed in clothes that made me look “responsible” and […]

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