Hair Me Out

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Dig this: in the February 9 issue of TIME Magazine, the “Numbers” section contained this entry: $1,250. Reserve price for a single hair of Beatle John Lennon to be auctioned in Spain.

Ay caramba!

That’s almost sacrilegious. Give grave robbers extra encouragement, why don’t you? Then how would you establish provenance? DNA tests? And what would you do with Lennon’s hair after you dish out the dollars for it? Frame it and hang the danged thing in the living room to serve as conversation piece? Mwahaha.

Hairy Habit
This got me thinking, the only person who could possibly have good use for a hair strand is my 17-month-old son, J. I’m not sure where he got this strange habit, but when he wants some chill-out time he gets down on hands and knees and searches for a stray strand of hair on his crib. I have shoulder-length hair. My yaya (nanny) does too. I bet we shed them like crazy. Hair falls out, it happens.

Anyway, once my son gets hold of a hair strand, he lies down, pincher grabs the strand and rubs it against his cheek, drawing a curved line from temple to nose. Not very hygienic, I know but if you take that hair away from him shrieks and tears will ensue. Not good. Hair strokes seem to soothe him, so we’ve taken to letting him get away with it. Sometimes he lets go of the hair and latches on to his gauze blanket, ala Linus. Then he falls asleep. When he can’t find a single hair on his playpen he’s been known to grab his own mop and pull out a fistful of strands. Needless to say, this causes me anxiety. I’d rather he pull out my hair.

Hair Up To There

I used to have long, almost waist-length hair. Five months into my pregnancy, don’t know if it was the surge of hormones or some twist in my psychology, but I suddenly decided to chop off my hair. I sat myself down in front of the salon mirrors and had the stylist braid my hair into one long, thick plait. Then I told her to chop it off. She hesitated only briefly, meeting my gaze in the mirror. Then she took a pair of scissors and went snip snip snip. The braid came away from my head and she placed it gently on the counter.

Hair No More
That done, I stood up and went to the men’s section of the salon, where chatting yuppies and sleepy old men were getting their tops trimmed, chins shaved, sideburns clipped. The barber, male and balding (why are there so many bald barbers? This puzzles me no end), refused to shave my head at first. His reason—he’s never done a woman’s head before. Duh! My instructions were clear: I wanted a clean, even, lawnmower cut, with less than a half-inch stubble left on my skull. The male patrons were listening in on our argument, and not even bothering to hide their interest. I told Mr. Barber I was pregnant and that for convenience’s sake I wanted a super short cut, pointing out that there’s basically no physical difference between a male and female head. Finally, I convinced Mr. Barber that my head is gender neutral. He sat me down, and then plugged in the electric shaver. I know now how it feels to enlist in the army, haha. That close to your skull, the shaver gives you a tingly buzz. It’s a strangely cleansing experience.

After the last few snips and side anglings with small scissors to make sure I had an even shave, he finished my session off with a particularly vigorous massage. With a grin, I took off the black cape that salons cover you with, flicking off a few errant strands. I checked out my head from several angles in the mirror. I looked like a smiling dandelion.

But having short hair was great fun. Taking a bath was cut down to mere minutes. I was in and out the shower so fast, I felt like a new woman. My hair (what was left of it) was dry even before the rest of me was! My head felt light and I could hear the wind whistle around my ears. I rediscovered my cheekbones and appreciated the clean line of my jaw.

The upkeep was costly though—a visit to the barber every two weeks for maintenance. And you had to wear earrings on both ears to clue people in that you’re female. Salesclerks call me “sir,” and then blush when they spy my bulging tummy. My OB-GYN did a double take when she first saw me, but wisely kept quiet.

And months after my son J was born, I discovered that having a shaved head had lots of plus points. Low maintenance mama could focus all her energies on taking care of a newborn without bothering to brush her hair and linger on all other vanities attendant to keeping long hair. No more expensive shampoos, no more fussing in the mirror. No more tiresome blow dryers.

Hair Haha
Validation came around 3 months later, when J began learning the concept of humor. I would take his tiny hand, place it on my dandelion head and let him pat it repeatedly while I would intone, “1, 2, 3, mike test, mike test…” over and over again. He would gurgle and drool with laughter.

Now ain’t that a kick in the head!


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