People say to me, Pearl? What are you afraid of?
And I say, you know? One of my current fears is that as an old woman I will have the same hair style that I did in high school.
It’s a silly fear, and one without a foundation. I’ve run the gamut of “natural” hair colors (as opposed to “unnatural”, i.e., blue or green) and hair styles that have included streaks, highlights, lowlights, frostings, layers, braids and a brief foray into the much-maligned mullet.
That’s right. I had a mullet.
I was young. I was crazy. I was reckless in my choice of hairdressers.
Recently, I’ve paid for my hair to be dyed a dark reddish brown; and, for the first time in several hundred years, I’ve got bangs.
My mother cut our hair when we were children. When she could not find the time the morning of the taking of my first-grade picture, five minutes before I left for school, with two other children to feed and see off, I cut my own bangs.
The result was what my mother referred to as “experimental”.
These are the first bangs I’ve had since that fateful day.
You’d be amazed at how many people can look at you and not notice that you now have a fringe of hair curtaining your forehead. Do it sometime – get bangs, if only to have someone look you straight in the eye and say, “What’s different about you? You get new glasses?”
I had this experience at work the other day.
The guy from the mailroom was staring at me.
This is not entirely unusual. This guy gives the Fish Eye to a number of people. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It used to bother me, but now it’s like having a cow look at you: you don't put a lot of stock into what the cow may or may not be thinking.
This time, however, he actually seems to be both looking at me and seeing me.
He focuses. “Oh,” he says.
“What’s up?” I say.
“Wudja dooter yer hair?” he says.
What’d I do to my hair? What’d I DO to it? What do you mean, what did I do to it?
“I had it done,” I said. “Different color. Bangs. Slight trim.”
“No, I mean,” he said. “I just noticed it looks different.”
Hmm. Yeah. I got that you thought it looked different.
“Hey,” he says. “Have you always had those freckles?”
I fight the urge to tell him they are new. Granted, I think Pat is working with a brain-cell deficit here, possibly from some poor entertainment choices in the 80s, but still, I find this brief exchange unsatisfying. What just went on here?
And that’s another thing I’m afraid of: That someday I will be the one to stare at the face of someone I’ve known for six years and say “Have you always had freckles?”