My Hair Belongs To Me

"Hey, Karl, "How long has it been since we've had freedom of hairstyle in this country?" We were on our way to pick up Karl's wife from the beauty salon, and Karl was busy concentrating on his driving. He glanced over at me with a puzzled look on his face.

  "We don't have any freedom of hairstyle. Katie's new do is going to cost us…. Hmm, if you count the tip, I bet it'll be close to $80.00 bucks. And, that's $80.00 bucks every two months. You know what better things I could do with an extra $40.00 bucks a month?"

  "Why do it then?" I was feeling a bit silly. "She doesn't have to get it cut and highlighted. She could, you know, let it grow '"Down to hear, down to there, down to where it stops by itself…'"

  Karl laughed. He shook his head back and forth to show off his long ponytail. "I remember when I wouldn't have been able to get away with letting mine grow. When I was a kid, I was in a constant fight with the establishment over the length of my hair." The light up ahead was yellow and Karl slowed down in anticipation of the red. When he came to a full stop, he turned to me and said, "I guess you're right, Marilyn, we do have freedom of hairstyle now. Nobody gives me a hard time about mine anymore."

  "Yeah, I'm pro choice and it's Katie's choice to have hers done professionally. She can skip a dinner out and spend the money on her hair. That's her prerogative. She makes a decent wage. She takes responsibility for her habit."

  Karl stepped on the gas to move forward with the traffic when the light changed. He sighed. "Do you think Marge Simpson's blue hair is a wig?"

  We both laughed.

  Then in a more serious mode Karl went on "Katie can afford the do. I know if we were struggling and Hank forbid, our kids were doing without, she'd forfeit the hair job." Karl was silent for the next six blocks. Then he went on, "Isn't it funny though how we make such a big too do about hair. We pluck it, we shave it, we wax it, we color it, we perm it, we buy tonics to grow it, we have it implanted, we wear wigs and toupees." He shook his head. "Why do we do all these things? On second thought, I don't think we have freedom of hairstyle. We still let tradition jerk us around. The way we were brought up, our parents, dictate. Most of us don't think we're free to do what we want with our hair. If we don't think we're free, I guess we're not."

  I sighed. "You and I, and Katie know we can choose just about any hairstyle. But lots of people still listen to the preachers of hairstyle and follow the rules."

  "What's with your new do, Marilyn?"

  "I thought you'd never ask. Do you like it?"

  "Yeah, I do. It is a bit drastic, but it suits you. I remember when you used complain about bad hair days. You used to wear hats all the time. Isn't that right?"

  "Yes, well now, thanks to Bob, I have freedom from hats. I used to be on a quest for the exact right hairdo. I pursued it with the same intensity that some search for the Holy Grail. Then when it didn't pan out, I covered it with a hat. I even bought a wig in hopes that it would solve my bad hair problems."

  "I'm all ears. How does Bob figure into all this?"

  "I lost a bet." I hesitated long enough for me to enjoy the puzzled expression on Karl's face. "We were arguing over a bit of movie trivia. It doesn't make any sense to bet money, because when you're married it's all the same pot anyway. My forfeit was that I had to let Bob cut my hair. I was so sure I was right."

  Karl pulled up in front of the beauty salon and parked the car. He took a closer look. "It can't be more than half an inch long… I mean all over."

  "That's right."

  "Turn your head to the side." Karl blinked. "I don't think I've ever seen a woman with hair that short." He hesitated for a moment. "It does look good on you though."

  "Do you really think so?"

  "Yeah, I do."

  "Thank you. I like it too. But the whole thing backfired on Bob. Now he has to cut my hair every two weeks." I smiled. "Funny thing is he enjoys doing it. It only takes about ten minutes with the cutter. Of course we agree there are a lot better places to spend our money than on haircuts and whatever the hairstyle gurus say is 'in' these days."

  Karl shook his head. "You know, Marilyn, you don't just have freedom of hairstyle, you have freedom from hairstyle."

  "Yeah I do, but it didn't come easy."

  Just then Katie came out of the shop and got into the car.

  Karl wore a face-cracking grin and said, "Hey Katie, who played the leading role in 'Traffic'"?

  Katie answered, "Benicio Del Toro."

  I had to stifle a laugh when Karl said, "Wanna bet?"

—M. LaCourt

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