Thursday, February 14, 2008

Not Without My Hair

In the natural habitat of women, there are certain ideals. A single-digit clothing size, stylish purses, big diamond rings...let's face it ladies: these are some of the things we use as a basis of comparison out in the wild. We all know its true. And as makeover shows and reality modeling competitions will attest, the holy grail of femininity is long hair.

At some point in a woman's life, she sees a shampoo commercial and instantly aches for long, glorious locks of hair that swoosh when she walks and sends a message to the universe that says, "I am woman, see me flat-iron." Long hair is sexuality, long hair is glamorous, long hair is...never going to happen for me.

I have always been a member of the short hair club. As a child, my mother would cut my hair into styles that she insists now were "very becoming." I suspect now that she was getting her style advice from a pet grooming magazine. My elementary school pictures are a slide show of pity: curly in some spots, wavy in others, and always a big cowlick in the front. My solution was to grow it long, and I tried so many times. I brushed it 100 times a night, used the special shampoo, and patiently persevered through the awkward stages when I tried to act like I meant for it to look that way. But it never looked good, and eventually I had to accept that I just look better with short hair, so I tried to make the most of it.

But oh how I envied those girls with long hair. People always think that short hair is so easy, but I wanted the simplicity of putting my hair in a ponytail instead of having to invest in various types of goop and sprays to keep my hair under control. What you save in drying time with short hair, you lose in logistics.

So you can imagine that I held a little resentment towards those long-locked girls who identified themselves by their hair. Inevitably every week I would see some television show about makeovers, when girls would cry and moan about having their hair cut, and I would think, "get over it, you whiner." But inside I thought, "one down, 50 million to go. If I can't have long hair, NO ONE CAN."

Then one day I realized I was slowing making the transition to the dark side. I was home with my baby and didn't have many opportunities for haircuts anyway, so it kind of started to happen on its own.

Over time, I started to really enjoy having "long hair" (which for me, means shoulder-length). I could get it into a ponytail if I really tried, and a collection of barrettes and headbands had started to appear in the bathroom. Before I knew it, I was nodding in understanding at the crying girls on TV, brushing my lucious locks and vowing never to cut my hair.

And then I innocently went in for a trim. I wanted bangs, nothing major. I sat confidently with my stylist and chatted about nothing in particular. Then my neck started to feel very naked. I reached back to feel my hair and was gone. There had been a gross miscommunication. I panicked, and tried to calm down. As she excitedly gave me the mirror to check out the back, my heart sank. All of my work had gone down the drain, and I hadn't even gotten to say goodbye. I couldn't fault her; she was so pleased with her work and I knew this was my old haircut I had always had. It looked okay, it just wasn't what I expected.

I was numb. I played it off like it was fine and went to my car to cry. I returned to my office and received comfort from my friends who assured me it looked cute. I cried to my husband as he stood there helplessly and tried to tell me it wasn't that bad. I appreciated my one honest friend who told me, "it kind of looks cute."

And that's when I realized that I turned into That Girl. I had mocked them, I had scorned them, and then I had joined them. I spent two days of my life mourning my hair, never seeing the irony because when it happens to you, its never ironic.

To be honest, now I am glad its gone. Having long hair was fun, but having short hair is me. While it takes longer in the mornings and I still miss having a ponytail on the weekends, I like not blending in with the crowd. I don't think I will try to grow my hair out again, but I can confide to the long-haired girls: I get it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Insanity Is a One-Way Street

Last week as I was driving through my neighborhood towards my house to retrieve my forgotten lunch from the refrigerator, which is not an uncommon experience in my work week, I encountered someone in the car ahead of me committing something so vile and reprehensible, so simultaneously annoying and enraging, so completely selfish and inconsiderate that I thought it should be listed as the eighth deadly sin: he was driving the speed limit.

But he wasn't just driving the speed limit. He was driving 30 miles an hour. As I trailed him in my car, knuckles white, brow furrowed, obscenities uttered, and as I tried in vain to use my Jedi mind tricks to propel his car faster down the curving road to my house, I decided that 30 miles an hour is the exact speed that will drive someone mentally insane.

If I ever become an evil genius and need to drive people insane, I am going to create time-sensitive tasks for them to do and then dictate that they can only accomplish them while driving in a car at 30 miles an hour. Then I'll sit back at my desk, tap my fingers together under my chin, and smile at nothing in particular while I rock slowly back and forth in my chair, because I am pretty sure that's what evil geniuses do, at least until we leave the room, at which point they probably check their email.

But back to what I was saying - driving at 30 miles an hour makes being in a car completely pointless. If you're going to take the trouble to get into a car, put on your seatbelt, and crank it up only to drive 30 miles an hour, then you should be ashamed of yourself. Make it worth the effort. Go 45.

Now, I can only complain too much. After all, I was the one who was late. And we were in a residential neighborhood. And I don't have the most illustrious driving record: I have my share of tickets, made worse due to sarcastic comments regarding the validity of the speed limit I had violated, and I have been to drivers' rehab more than once (I recommend the online version). I am a repeat offender, and I know I'll do it again. I can't help myself; I have a need for speed.

I understand the reasoning behind low speed limits in residential areas and I hypocritically tsk at the folks who whip around bus stops and buggy-pushing mothers. I just have a sneaking suspicion that the people responsible for coming up with the speed limits in my neighborhood are sitting behind big desks, tapping their fingers on their chins, and smiling at nothing in particular while they rock back and forth in their chairs.

So the next time you are stuck behind some pokey law-abiding citizen, gripping your steering wheel and trying to figure keep from ramming their car, think of me. If you're not too busy going insane, that is.