New ’Do, New ’Tude

By Diane Stark

New ’Do, New ’Tude

We all think of ourselves in a certain way. In our mind’s eye, we picture ourselves with certain qualities, and even if those things change outwardly, we still think of ourselves that way.

The first thing people notice about me is my height. I’m incredibly short (like young-children-have-mistaken-me-for-a-little-person short). So, even if someday I have a miraculous 30-something growth spurt, I’ll always think of myself as tiny.

I’m not especially pretty, but on a good day, people might consider me cute. (I think I have my stature to thank for that one.) I’m not particularly funny, but I’m goofy in a way that many people find humorous. So that’s how I think of myself: as a short, cute-on-a-good-day, goofball.

I’m a natural blonde, but I don’t think of myself that way – subconsciously, I think I’m rejecting the intellectual ramifications associated with being blond. Instead, I think of myself as a long-haired person. Since high school, I’ve worn it long, blonde and parted on the right.

Now this is not to say that I never change my hair. Sometimes, I chop a few inches off the ends and then let it grow out again. Heck, sometimes I even wear it in a ponytail.

When I get my hair cut, nobody ever notices. My husband only comments on it after he happens to see the charge on our bank statement. And his comment usually goes something like this: “Um, I saw on the credit card bill that you got your hair done. It looks nice.”

“I’m glad you think it looks nice,” I say. “But does it look any different?”

He studies me for a minute. “No, not really.” He smiles. “But I like it.”

And I guess that’s why I’ve kept the same hair-do for all these years.

A few weeks ago, I went in for my semi-annual pseudo-change to my hairstyle. So I went to The Salon That Will Remain Nameless and asked for “something a little different.”

What I ended up with was certainly different. It looked…well, in a word, horrendous. It looked like I’d done it myself – or more accurately, like I’d let one of my kids cut it for me.

In defense of The Salon That Will Remain Nameless, it wasn’t entirely their fault. I did go there on a whim (because I tend to be somewhat impulsive, except apparently, with my hair, until this particular day.) And because I went on a whim, I did not secure the proper child care for my 18-month-old son, Nathan. So he sat on my lap while the stylist cut my hair. And my son is – let’s be truthful here – the most incredibly cute child on this planet, and I’m sure his utterly adorable smile and sparkling personality were quite distracting for the poor stylist.

So it wasn’t entirely her fault. But that didn’t change the fact that my hair looked positively awful.

Now, I didn’t realize when I left The Salon That Will Remain Nameless that my hair didn’t look good. (It seems that I, too, was flummoxed by Nathan’s charms.) I tipped the stylist and left with a smile on my face. It wasn’t until I got home that the real damage became apparent.

I looked in the mirror and gasped. I cried for a while, and then I tried to fix it. But no matter what I did, it looked as though someone had taken a chainsaw to my locks.

I returned to The Salon That Will Remain Nameless, praying that the Texas Chainsaw stylist’s shift had ended. I hate confrontation, and I was hoping to whisper quietly to one of the other stylists that my new hair-do was going to send me over the edge, and could she please try to fix it.

I was in luck. Chainsaw Girl had left for the day. I showed another stylist my hair and she actually said, “Oh, my!” and covered her mouth with her hands.

She sat me down in a chair – with Nathan a safe distance away this time – and she went about fixing my hair. “I’m going to have to cut off quite a bit to salvage this,” she warned.

“How much are you talking?” I said. “I’ve never really had short hair. Like, ever. In my life.”

“Oh, well, it’s going to be on the short side. But it will look better than…well, better than what you’ve got now.”

I cringed as longer-than-I’d-like strands of blond hair fell to the floor. Finally, she sighed and said, “I think I’ve done all I can do.”

She turned me around toward the mirror and said, “Ta da!”

She smiled at me in the mirror. And I struggled not to cry.

It was short. Like several inches shorter than my shortest chop-off-a-couple-inches ‘do. But even through my tears, I had to admit that it was kind of cute.

But only on someone else. I am a long hair kind of girl. Was, anyway.

“Well, Daddy isn’t going to need the bank statement to figure this one out,” I told Nathan in the car on the way home.

He’s going to hate my hair, I worried. When Eric saw it, he said, “Wow, it’s short.” He smiled and added, “But I like it.”

And that was the general consensus. “Wow, you’ve had long hair for so long,” people would say. “But I can’t understand why. Short hair looks great on you.”

I’ve always had long hair. That’s how I thought of myself. I also thought of myself as married, until I got divorced. But then I got re-married and things are so much better now. For years, I was a teacher. But then I resigned and became a writer. And that’s been better too.

I’m a long hair kind of girl with a short new ’do. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but some of the best things in my life have come to me quite unexpectedly.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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