A Hairy Situation

big foot pt 2 volcano _bionic-blonde






Hair, huh, good God ya’ll, what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing! Say it again! Oh, I may have taken too much liberty with that song. It is supposed to be “war”.  Well, in my world “hair” fits there pretty well; I mean, what is its purpose anyway?

Yes, I guess for some hair covers up what is most likely an unsightly or awkwardly shaped head, present company included. I know that early humans were necessarily hairy in order to survive the harsh elements.  But as both man and dwellings have evolved to a much more luxurious and sheltered existence, it seems that hair is just a good bug biome or a tall tale of Texas on a woman’s head. I watch Naked and Afraid (and I ask myself why people do that, even though I watch it like a train wreck) on the Discovery Channel, and I have to say, the hair on those people just doesn’t seem to help them a lick! It doesn’t protect them from bugs or thorns or cold or dirt or anything. In fact, the hair just gives the ticks and chiggers more places to hide. They are just as vulnerable in nature as hairless cats.

Although I do like having hair on my head because I don’t think my head would be very attractive without it (when I was a baby, my head was really large and lop-sided with what I could call my very large brain protruding on one side: with my personality we will go with the right side), I have had a war with hair my whole life. To the chagrin of my daughter, who embraces the many facets of up-dos, down-dos, messy buns, and the never-ending promise of cut and color combinations, I have never liked nor been good at fixing hair. She has never forgiven me for keeping her hair short from about the ages of two to six because I was not good at combing and styling. She learned to do her own hair at a very young age. Now I could make a point for my side of this argument by pointing out the necessity for short hair in the recounting of the “Great Gooze Disaster of 2000”, but that is a whole blog entry by itself. Thus, as is my nature, I have found what I consider to be the easiest and best way to have my own hair cut short and kept simply, and I have chosen to keep it this way for years, and will continue to do so until there is a good reason to no longer keep it that way, which is how I arrange furniture.

Now, let me address hair elsewhere. I come from unusually hairy stock. It is another of those wonderful traits that stagnated in a gene pool that could use a little fresher water flow. Luckily, I have not been cursed with a heavy beard, and I am sorry for women who are, but I can still find room to complain. I mean, people, I am pretty sure that Wookies are my tribe! I think I might have been eight or nine years old the first time someone made fun of the hair on my legs (people began commenting on my “fat” legs the day after I was born, but hairy took slightly longer). So I clandestinely tried to shave them only to give myself the worst razor rash in the known world. I never told anyone; I just wore pants and suffered in silence because I wasn’t supposed to be shaving anything.

I was outdoors most of the time as a kid, which might lead you to believe that all of this “hairedity” might have provided some protection from the sun. Alas, it did not. My extraordinarily pale complexion left me plagued with sunburns, which begat blisters and freckles, which begat age spots, which begat other unfortunate blemishes of varying colors, sizes and shapes, even on my scalp. Even now, the struggle is real. Those blemishes sprouted their own hairs, but unfortunately, not the ones on my head. It seems as though the one place I would love to have thicker hair has less, and everywhere else, the weeds have overtaken the manicured landscape.

When we are young, we see pictures of witches in fairy tales and Halloween decorations with moles on their faces that have ugly hairs protruding from said blemishes. One would think that we are subtly being prepared for what is to come, but we can scarcely be prepared for the sheer volume and scope of the problem facing us in later life. Oh, sure, as young adults we begin the attempt to make nature bow to our wishes by tweezing, plucking, waxing, or even shaving completely (eyebrows are often shaved then drawn in) all offending parts of our bodies. I even watched an episode of The Today Show where Tamron Hall and some of her colleagues were talking about the trend for women to shave their faces in entirety. Tamron said that she did. I have never been able to get past the myth that if you shave the hair, it will come back thicker, darker and coarser like whiskers.  So I am completely freaked out by this concept, and I have no desire to shave my face like I have to shave my legs and armpits. (Instant poll: do you shave toe hair? Don’t tell me that you don’t have toe hair!)

The young wealthy people even have laser hair removal, which is costly and time consuming. At one point in my youth, I went so far as to  purchase the torture device known as the “Epilady” which is a coil that grabs a patch of hair and yanks it out painfully and unceremoniously. But it was not reliable in catching all of the hair in a given area, which made its worth disproportionate to the debilitating pain.

Then there is waxing. I enjoy waxing philosophical and waxing poetic, but I will never enjoy waxing Brazilian or bikini, not that you ever wanted to know that about me. Perhaps if I were a Brazilian beauty or a tall, gorgeous anorexic, I would be willing to use molten wax to strip hair from super sensitive areas, but honestly, that hair is kind of like the dirt on top of my refrigerator: if I can’t see it, then it pretty much doesn’t exist for me until someone who shouldn’t even be looking there points it out. (Please do not comment on these things to my husband or children. I get in enough trouble for emotionally scarring them on a regular basis).

My eventual point is that as young people we work to win the battle, but in the end, the hair will win the war. It is hair terrorism: “hairrorism”.  It is Vietnam. We are fighting under the Geneva Convention and the hair begins winning with guerrilla warfare (or in this case, perhaps it is actually gorilla warfare). As we age, hairs just seem to sprout with no rhyme or reason. Yes, we expect a stray hair to appear in a scar or mole, but the stealth with which that whisker appears is nothing short of miraculous. You will pluck it out one day and then carefully examine that spot each day searching for the returning culprit, and there will be nothing, nothing at all. Then with no warning, you will be half way through your work day and look obliviously into the mirror to find that evil follicle sporting a hair two inches long. It seemed to grow instantaneously and cruelly!

Then there are the hairs that appear in unlikely spots that have never given you a reason to think a hair would grow. It is like a nail salon opening inside a music store. It can, but why? It is like this weed that used to grow from the wall in my mom’s kitchen. You never expected it, and yet one day it was there, 18 inches tall and growing supernaturally. So it is with these hairs that just pop out without scars, blemishes or any logical reason. Those subversive little devils are the bane of my existence, and once the spot is identified (after you were embarrassed the first time), that hair will pull the same hide and seek game that its friends play just to keep you in a constant state of flux. The minute you let down your guard, wham! I swear I have PTWD (Post traumatic whisker disorder)! This often happens on your face, but it can also happen in random other places such as your ear. Sometimes the hairs are white, sometimes black. I have a great deal of hair on my arms, but it is generally soft and relatively short. Once in a blood moon, there will be a bizarre coarse hair that will just come up suddenly on my hand or elsewhere without provocation. I am telling you; as an old person, you lose the war.

Eyesight seems to be in alliance with the hair as well. I can shave my legs for hours and be so careful, feeling for that smooth, silky skin and looking at my legs in the brightest light available. Then, as I said before with me, it is out of sight out of mind, so I could miss a patch of hair on the back of my leg and really not care about it. However, after a long and close shaving event, I will find a shocking discovery a day or two later: right in the front where the leg is easy to see and reach, there will be a strip of fur that is bigger and thicker than the Black Forest! What the what? I am sure that wasn’t there before, but I cannot convince myself that my eyesight was not in cahoots with the hair army (or leggy). How does this happen? How does one not catch a patch of lion’s mane on one’s shin or knee? It just doesn’t make sense.

Alas, I have never been one to embrace the code of “au natural”, but I have to admit that I know now why the menopausal soldiers give up the fight. At a point, one becomes too “hairried” by the struggle and waves the whiskered flag.

English Is My Ex


Unrequited Love Language

One day, Kevin asked me, “Is it difficult?” I did not know what he meant, so I looked at him quizzically.  He repeated, “Is it difficult, you know, being right all of the time?”

What can I say?  It is a curse or a gift or both. You know what they say about marriage: one person is right all of the time and the other is the husband.  Actually, I just THINK I am right all of the time, and that can be very difficult indeed.  If I know I am wrong, though, I will take ownership of it, unlike some who never meet their inner locus of control.

Back before I was a school counselor, I was a high school English teacher, and I think I had a pretty good grasp on the subject I taught. I majored in English and minored in journalism in college and never had below an A, and I passed the five certification tests in Oklahoma on the first try. Before you quit reading this because you are fed up with what appears to be my bragging, let me assure you that it is the foreshadowing for my getting knocked down several pegs.

This is how that happened.  When Kevin got his doctorate, I took pride in being his proofreader for his papers and even his dissertation. I was glad to be able to help him, and he did well in his classes and published several articles, so I felt pretty good about our combined abilities. Then my kids got old enough to need my proofreading help. Again, I could not help with subjects like pre-cal, but I could teach them how to proof and improve their writing, most of the time. There were a few times that I did not completely agree with everything their teachers did along the way, but I made sure I let the kids do their own writing and keep their own ideas and voice in the work. A couple of times the papers were figuratively torn apart, and most of it was a difference of opinion on stylization, so I could let it go and just agree to disagree. However, when Kevin’s book was accepted for publication by OU Press (Yay…side note: shameless plug for the publication of Prelude to the Dust Bowl which will be on shelves in July), I experienced something completely different.  Kevin and I had both proofed the book several times.  Then Kevin’s mother, who is an ABD in English with several master’s degrees, including a Master of Letters from the prestigious Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College in Vermont, proofed the book at least three times.  Kevin’s step-father has an English degree from the University of Chicago, a law degree from Yale, and a Master of Letters from Breadloaf as well. He proofed the book at least three times. Then the book was sent out to five different experts for reading, and they all made their edits and suggestions. However, when the book finally went to the assigned editor for final edits before production, she hacked and butchered, and Kevin had to fight for things he thought germane enough to the topic to keep. I came to the conclusion through all of this that if you put twenty experts in English in a room with a book, there would be twenty different opinions on what is correct and not correct and what is good or not good. Sure, they would all find the egregious errors such as fragments and run-on sentences, but when it comes to stylization and nuance, there would be debates more heated than anything in a presidential campaign. I hate to be wrong, so it prompted me to vent in the following paragraph.  For my English teacher friends:  I am aware that my tight rope dance between voices and romantic love and platonic love are not perfect, but a rant does tend to veer from proper writing, which just goes to enhance my point even more. The main thing here is that, although it is not funny, I did enjoy using figurative language.

On another note, if either of my adult children had posted something publicly with profanity in it, I would have scolded them for cursing in a public forum. Thus, I have used a vulgar term, and I will accept the public admonishments from my offspring and any others whom I have offended.

When you fall into the web of love, there is a feeling of euphoric safety as you initially think you cannot fall from where you are.  Then the reality of the spider creeps in as it dawns on you that there is betrayal in this web.  Safety has been delusion; it is a web of lies and deceit, and a piece of you will be gone forever as the spider devours you, imposing its wants and needs on you. That happened to me, not with a high school crush or a potential spouse, but with my vocation. Just as Athena sprang forth from the head of Zeus fully armored, I sprang forth from diapers as a loquacious toddler, and the talking never slowed! I have always been attracted to language. English is a sexy beast and this girl was enamored with her just as a young girl idolizes Wonder Woman. The golden lasso of language revealed the truths of life to me in the written word. The bracelets fired with the super power of the laser-sharp tongue. I longed to be “THE” shit, and English gave me the coveted article. For a while, I skirted the heavens in her metaphorical jet.  There were puns and word play.  Adjectives made me giddy.  Wit was the constant fix I craved.  Figurative language had me in the write shape, and my participles were no longer dangling; I was a crazed disciple of hyperbole. I readily admit that onomatopoeia gave me a buzz. Then irony came into my story.  After devoting my creative energies into this unilingual obsession, I saw the writing on the wall.  English is fickle, and I discovered that she woos the world and convinces all of those hanging on in her inner sanctum, as well as the groupies slinking in the shadows of her periphery, that each of them has the omniscient point of view.  I studied the rules, I knew some exceptions, and my first conjugation was in her verbage. But other disciples believed that they knew more than I did: that their points of view were each the standard by which we all should communicate. I discovered that others had risen to the top of her command only to be edited by underlings, who argued that personal style did not meet the call of the Queen’s English. The fan club were all promised the presidency, and although we believed that there could be only one, we were subjected to criticisms without objectivity.  I happened upon a writing with voice, a story told by a master.  I watched as the Queen’s army imprisoned the work for more than grammar and punctuation and a rule here or there.  I watched as each officer slaughtered and decapitated anything that made the writing unique until they had all forced their will upon the story, killing creativity, destroying any evidence of the life in word pictures that had made the rhetoric appealing to the third-word countries, and only accessible to elitists and language snobs. The world was now in black and white. Where was the local color? I was traumatized by this experience.  I knew that there was a war of words out there, but I did not realize that enemy is not defined. I had to accept it. English refuses to truly love me back.  It was a sad day when I gave up the fight. I had to realize that everyone’s a critic, and whomever has last word is the self-professed, yet recognized “author-ity”.