When I was three, I cut my hair in front of the big mirror in my parents’ bathroom with a pair of barbers’ scissors I found in the medicine cabinet. The scissors were sticky with toothpaste scum and spilled cough syrup. When I presented my newly made over, sticky-haired self to my mother, she immediately made an appointment at the barber shop. It was a real one with just one chair and a swirling candy cane outside. An older man cut my hair so it was even, and at preschool Christie Cann, who I carpooled with, said I couldn’t play with her because she didn’t play with boys.
When I was fourteen I went to the mall to get an updo for homecoming. I saw the row of chairs with girls getting identical french twists with little ringlets hanging down, and my lifelong reckless desire to not be like them reared up. I got my hair cut short. At the dance I wore a skirt that was bought for church two years and six inches prior, and a tank top with a corsage on one shoulder and ribbons hanging down. My date’s mother took pictures of us on the front porch and drove us to the dance. He spent most of the night in the bathroom talking to a girl he knew from middle school who he said needed help with her math homework. Some girl I’d never really talked to before tried to console me by saying he should count himself lucky because I had the shortest skirt of any girl there.
When I was fifteen someone bet me I wouldn’t cut my own hair, which was now past my shoulders and dyed red, although it did have a few inches of dark roots because my parents had banned hair dye after my dabbling in being a ginger left stains on the sink that looked disconcertingly like dried blood. I swiped a pair of scissors from the art room and paraded down the hall, shorn ponytail held aloft. I didn’t win any money from the bet, because Catholics aren’t allowed to gamble.
When I was seventeen I never knew what to say when a stylist asked how I wanted my hair cut, so I always asked for more layers. Eventually this led to its logical conclusion: I wound up with a mullet. I didn’t think it looked half bad.
When I was eighteen I convinced my college roommate that I could cut hair. To prove it, I cut hers. It came out inescapably lopsided. She hyperventilated with her head between her knees while I ran around knocking on doors to find someone who could fix it. Our next-door neighbor did so (marvelously), and also made me promise never to cut someone else’s hair again.
When I was twenty-one I went back to the barber who had fixed my hair as a preschooler, with visions of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday dancing in my head. I was going to get a perfect, carefree haircut and be magically transformed into a manic pixie dreamgirl except less irritating and existing as more than the key to a male protagonist’s fulfillment. I would roller skate to class and wear vintage exclusively. I bought lip stain, thinking that my future self would like to wear lip stain and no other makeup.
When I was twenty-two I grew my hair out. I was sick of the bad hair days that happen when a lazy, curly-haired person gets a bob.
When I was twenty-four I cut my hair again, because I am indecisive and attracted to the insouciant charm of short hair.
What do you think?