Homemaking: Hair today ... gone tomorrow?
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In the news last week, we learned that as a high school student, Mitt Romney held down another boy in school with long hair and gave him a forced haircut.
I am not weighing in on the story, because I have a rule: I never discuss politics in my column. This country is so divided right down the middle and so angrily polarized that were I to weigh in on a political subject, exactly half of my existing small herd of readers would immediately think I'm a genius and like me a lot more, and the other half would refuse to read even one more column because only a complete idiot would hold the views I hold. (By the way, I'm not saying which half, but half of you out there are not, in fact, all that sharp. I can't afford to lose you guys, though.)
I can relate to this story because, from somewhere around fourth grade through 10th grade, I had hair so long that I was the talk of my own neighborhood. Rather than going through a long description of my hairstyle during this period, it's easier if you just go to your computer and Google "images: Jodie Foster, Freaky Friday." That was basically me.
The first time I realized this was an issue was in fifth grade, when I was riding my bike in a strange neighborhood and I got a flat. A middle-age man working in his garage saw it happen, took pity on me, and called me over to show me how to patch a tire. We were working away, I was learning a new skill, and life was good -- until his daughter came home. She looked into the garage and asked her dad what was going on. He gestured at me with a wrench.
"Be in soon, honey," he said. "Just helping this little girl with her bike!"
The girl stared at him, then me, then him, and said, "Dad! That's a boy!"
The dad turned and examined me closely for a long moment, then back at his daughter.
"No it isn't!" he said. "This is definitely a girl!"
I was mortified. She was a very cute girl, and the minute I saw her, I wanted to impress her, not look like her.
I kept my hair long, though. Later on, in high school, I was riding my bike past a construction site, wearing shorts, when a group of construction workers started whistling at me. I turned around to see what was going on, and it was hard say who was more embarrassed, the construction workers or me. (To be fair to the construction workers, I did ride my bike a lot and, as a result, had pretty nicely toned legs.)
With time, of course, my hair got thinner and thinner on top, until I had to cut it a lot shorter and shorter, or risk looking more like Ben Franklin than Jodie Foster. Today, I sport what only middle-age men optimistically and unrealistically would call hair and the rest of the world tries not to talk about.
Last weekend, I was watching a movie on TV with my daughters, a movie my girls had seen a hundred times, when one of them mentioned that an actor on the screen looked almost exactly like me. I perked up for a moment. It's always interesting to see yourself the way others see you. But this actor looked nothing like me.
"Wait..." my daughter said, holding up her hand, "Wait ... wait ... now!"
The actor on screen turned away from the camera, revealing the back of his head -- with a huge bald spot.
"There!" my daughter said. "That's what you look like from the back!"
I wanted to tell her that at one time, back in the day, I had a head of hair so long and luxurious that I was mistaken for a pretty girl. At one time, I could make construction workers whistle in appreciation. Somehow, though, I don't think that's the kind of thing a 16-year-old girl wants to hear from her father.
We all have stories from our teenage years we'd like to see buried, don't we?
First Published May 19, 2012 12:00 am