06 July 2007

Filamentous Outgrowth

I've got hair on my mind.

My mother's hair is falling out; her wig arrived yesterday.

WhyMommy cut her hair in preparation for chemo next week.

W. got his cut last week; Miss M. announced it to everyone at daycare - it made a big impression on her. When I got my hair cut a few months ago (after far too long), she cried and cried - "when will it be longer?"

Recently I saw a woman, an older middle class black woman in a shirtdress, with her hair bundled into a tube-shaped bag of fabric that reached to her knees. Her hair was visible at her head, but from the nape of the neck to her knees, it was encased. It was a truly odd sight.

Finslippy wrote a paean to the Hair movie with Treat Williams, which got me thinking about the original Broadway cast album that I grew up with, of which none of the songs were off limits. So my brother would walk around the house singing:

Father, why do these words sound so nasty?
Can be fun...

And of course, there's the Hair anthem:

Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen…
Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself

S. posted recently about getting her hair cut; she's got LONG hair - she had 14" cut off and it's still down to her elbows.

I used to have long long hair, but never that long. But enough that I could have 5-6" chopped off at a time and still have a lot of hair. In kindergarten, I had pigtails and bangs. In fourth grade, I started growing the bangs out. By high school, I wore it in a ponytail, or clipped back with two barrettes - one over each ear. That there photo of a high school marching band? That's me towards the left, playing the piccolo with the long blond hair. Somewhere along the way, I started using one barrette at the back, to hold back some of the hair - I've never met a barrette that could take ALL of my hair. Eventually I figured out how to put it up in a nice tight bun with five hairpins - the good old-fashioned sturdy 3" hairpins that are awfully hard to find. I was about 40 years old the first time I got my hair cut professionally. It was frightening to walk into a fancy-schmancy salon, since I never learned how to be a real girl and I'm terrible about the whole tipping thing, but it was a great haircut.

Since then, I've been fairly erratic about keeping it up - who has time to get their haircut when they have a full-time job and a small person? Right now it's a couple of inches above my shoulders, thanks to a cheap cut by an old man at a low-rent no-appointments salon.

I seem to have lost my train of thought.


niobe said...

I'm so sorry about your mother. And about Whymommy too.

What gorgeous hair you have in that photo. Oddly, I'd always been absolutely certain that you had black hair. I'm trying to think where that (obviously completely incorrect) idea could have come from. It must be that, subconsciously, my image of you is linked to your pseudonym, so that what I've been seeing in my mind is hair that looks like the feathers of a magpie.

Furrow said...

Hair is awfully important in our culture. Whether it's your mother losing hers to cancer or my friend's biracial daughter feeling exasperation that her hair is not as "smooth" as her sister's or mother's, it can have an awful big impact on self esteem.

My tightly curled excessively thick hair has certainly made my life difficult at times. It's why I never swam much as a kid. It just didn't dry nicely. I don't really care, anymore. I'm kind of offended by makeover shows that ALWAYS straighten curly hair.

Your hair is pretty.

Julie Pippert said...

I have been thinking about hair too; mine is falling out thanks to my pituitary. But you've made me pause and think about how others think about it, what it means, and so forth. Interesting post.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in NYC, I used to get mine cut at a salon right by your office! I miss Sal. He always gave big hugs and kisses before and after each cut. He also guessed that I was pregnant before I knew I was (without seeing me either).

Anonymous said...

Love the photo. Even though I knew you had blonde hair I too still picture you with dark hair.

My first year in college I played my poorly copied cassette of the Broadway production of Hair. I loved how it made me feel so counter-culture.

My husband used to get kicked out of highschool for having hair that touched his collar! He still has long hair by most standards.

NotSoSage said...

I, on the other hand, could have had hair your length and it would all fit in one barrette. It's so thin! Which explains why I keep it short now.

Aurelia said...

I love new haircuts. The one darn thing that keeps me sane. My favourite picture of myself doesn't show my face, just my hair!

I'm sorry about your Mom...is she going to try different wigs? Maybe try different styles every day? Her hair will grow back soon enough.

OhTheJoys said...

Growin', flowin'...

Liz Miller said...

All my best to your mom.

I, too, thought of you with hair as black as a raven's wing.

susan said...

I hope htings go ok with your mother.

I thought you had brown hair, kind of short and curly, myself.