Margo Gets a Haircut

      When I was a young girl, my mother wanted to grow my hair long.  I was towheaded as a child and she wanted my hair to reach my lower back.  It was slow going because the hair in our family is fine and exceedingly soft, and even now I can’t grow it past my shoulderblades.

       She loved to play with my hair, putting it in braids and plaits, or curling it with a curling iron.  Sometimes she put it into small braids when it was still wet, and I slept in them overnight.  In the morning, she let out the braids, and my pin-straight hair was full of waves.  

         Hair is very symbolic to women.  It involves significant ritual. 

      One day, when I was 8 years old, my mother and father had a fight.  

       My father took me to the hair salon and had the hairdresser cut off all the hair my mother had so carefully cultivated.  My new haircut was pixie-short, like Audrey Hepburn’s.  I still remember the stylist wincing as she did it, and saying, “Well, she has good bone structure and a long neck; short hair will show it off….”. 

       I remember the pile of hair on the floor underneath the chair before they swept it up.  It was the color of buttered white corn. 

      My father took me home.  

       My mother came to pick me up later that afternoon.  I ran to her when I heard her car pull up outside.

        I’ll never forget the expression on my mother’s face when she saw me; that look of shock and pain.  But she did not cry, because my father was standing in the doorway, smiling at her, and my mother is a proud woman.  

        She waited until she drove us out of the parking lot and down the block, out of his sight, until she stopped the car and burst into tears.

      I’m sorry.  It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’m feeling maudlin.  

5 thoughts on “Margo Gets a Haircut”

  1. Using the child to get at the spouse or partner you’re having a fight with is horrible, ugly, and disgusting. It’s like hostage taking. It fucks up the child as much as the person you’re fighting and that is unforgiveable.

    Reminds me of the poem by the English poet Philip Larkin.

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    I don’t agree with the last line. This isn’t Greek tragedy, there are no Gods to torment us, and we’re not predestined to hand on the faults of our parents to our kids like some sort of dreadful virus. We have an existential choice, and it’s up to us to take it.

    As Aeschylus points out at the start of the Oresteian trilogy, man must suffer into truth.

    1. Yeah, using children as agents in their parents’ wars is very wrong. I’m routinely surprised as how many people don’t seem to know that…but I also think that most people have zero self-awareness. They just go through life on a convear belt, or something.

      I think about having a daughter myself from time to time…I still have (maybe?) ten years of fertility…but I need a husband first, and I don’t know if I will ever find a decent man to keep hold of me. I’m very discouraged about that. The Surgeon said that he would give me a kid, but I don’t think that he’s a good father.

      “Man must suffer into truth,” what a line! Every lesson worth learning in life is inevitably learned at one’s own expense.

  2. It was worse for my mother than for me. The hardest part for me was that it set me apart from the other girls. Everyone else had long hair.

    But, my father doesn’t need or want friends, and probably thought that I didn’t, either.

  3. That was always my Mother’s big threat to me when I was a child and would get knots in my hair. “Im going to give you a pixie haircut!” was the one threat guaranteed to send me running screaming through the house. Even though I’m well past the age (I’m told) when most women cut their hair, I still wear it well past my shoulders much to my Mother and sister’s chagrin. 🙂

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