Recently I was at an event attended by several women I hadn’t seen in a long time. During that period, my hair had changed in a major way. It’d gone from a long blunt cut, with bangs, to very short, and layered. With bangs.
A couple of the women at that event did not immediately recognize me but when they did, they said they liked my haircut. It elicited some commentary along the lines of, “I don’t know what to do with my hair.”
That caused me to recall the crisp wisdom of Gregory, the guy who cut my hair for hundreds of years. That long blunt cut (with bangs) was what I’d requested for most of those years. I loved its sexiness, its shine, it’s chick chic. Then I got my heart broken and did what a lot of women do in a painful split: I asked Gregory to cut my hair off, into what I called a boy cut. With bangs.
He did. I adored it. Adored running my fingers through it, tangling it up. It was a clarion message to the world, I’m not sure of what.
After a while, I started to let my hair grow again. With bangs. After which a new man came along.
Perhaps you’ve picked up on my reiteration of the word “bangs.” Yes, there’s a reason. The new man expressed distaste for two aspects of my essence: my socks, and my bangs. “Socks have to be white,” he mandated. Mine were – and remain – anything but. I search the earth for wild patterns and colors.
I laughed at him about the socks.
One day, looking at myself in Gregory’s mirror, I wondered out loud if we could do something about the bangs. Like, I didn’t know, but…training them? Teaching them not to fall down over my forehead?
“Listen,” he said. “Your hair grows that way. I’ll show you,” and he took up a strand from my forehead. “Look. Your roots grow downward in front. Some people have roots that grow to the side, or to the back. Your hair grows down and there’s nothing you or I can do about it.”
I felt a rush of massive relief. My hair grew that way!
That was a fact of life. Although I did let my bangs grow out, and did annoy myself every day by pinning them back with combs or clips or bands or similar extraneous nonsense, eventually I settled into the fact of life. Bangs. I’ve had them ever since, without fussing. (The guy left me for another woman who, I trust, is bang-less. In white socks. Do not pity me; I didn’t like him very much.)
Also from Gregory.
My hair had not yet begun to turn silver when I had lunch with two women friends who told me they both were graying and did color their hair. I wondered out loud whether I’d decide to do that when the time came.
“Don’t start,” they both said, virtually in chorus. “Once you start, you’re trapped and can’t stop.”
I double checked with Gregory. “Do you think I’ll color my hair when it turns gray?”
He thought over that for a few seconds. “No,” he said. “You don’t have the patience.”
When I started working, we young women felt compelled to do things to our hair. Rollers, hair dryers, perms. What fuss. It took a few years before I realized my hair did not require any fuss. It looked fine, hanging down straight and smooth.
But as I began to have my hair cut shorter, I realized only the weight of my hair had kept it straight. When shorter, my hair sprouted waves and curls. Unfortunately, the waves on either side of my face were asymmetrical, yet I did not have the majesty of a Gothic cathedral. One side flew outward, the other backward. It looked unkempt. And then an impertinent cowlick popped up on the back of my head. What?
I had two choices. First, to launch myself into a styling project, during which I’d buy special brushes and dryers, and would spend a lot of time forcing my hair to lie flat.
Second choice, screw all that. Gregory was right: I didn’t have the patience.
That’s when I again had my hair cut short and in such a style I would never have to touch a hair dryer or a brush. Indeed, my hair is so self-actuated, I barely have to use a comb.
On the rare occasion I’ve looked through haircut magazines and have seen a style I like, I’m able to say immediately, “Won’t work with my hair.”
And that crazy cowlick? I’ve fallen madly in love with it. It perks me up every morning.
I’m sure you can translate this superficial dissertation about (my) hair into resounding truths about why it’s simpler, less time-consuming, less expensive and much less frustrating to gather and rely on the facts of life than to whack your way through the tangles of falsity and fakery.
Good. Because producing this extensive metaphor has exhausted my capacities for profundity.
Now that I’ve given you an assignment, I’m stopping here. Because I’ve gotta go trim my bangs. Make of that what you will.