Hair has always been important to my self-image. I have always worn it long, unclipped, untethered, unrestrained. I associate tying up my hair with working. All of those jobs of my earlier working life required tying up the mane.
I once had bouncing baby curls, as an Anne Geddes style baby photo will attest to but 1984 (Orwell chose the right year to be dystopian) saw a traumatic hair event in my life. My Mammy had my hair cut into a pageboy.
I started school looking like a boy. It was all-girl school so nobody got confused but this set in motion a terror of hairdressers that lasted a good twenty years, ending with a Rapunzel complex.
Long hair and a fear of cutting it.
I got over that.
My hair is brown, and therefore I am cursed with the early grey gene. My first grey (white piece of wire more like) sprouted menacingly from my naive head when I was thirteen and was promptly ripped from said head by an obliging friend who sat behind me and couldn’t look it at. (Done without my prior knowledge, sharp and secret pain).
The dying began in my twenties. Not a person who embraces the harlequin of colour style of hairdressing, a new shade a season, I stayed brown.
‘Chocolate’ most dyes refer to it as.
Children came into my life, magical pixies that bring spirit and energy, mischief and mania. Somehow my hair becomes in need of the touch up quicker. not to blame my babies…but there may be a connection.
I have made and cancelled two hair appointments in recent weeks due to other circumstances ( see Cancelling an Operation when under Anaesthesia?). The window had passed. I had gone from a few indeterminate greys to full on old man crown.
Last Saturday morning, we were swimming. My two year old was perched happily on a changing room bench as I sweated with the latex suit, my head bent under her nose. She gasps.
‘Oh Mammy- what happened?’.
Quick glimpse around.
‘WWhat happened your hair?‘
She plucked at the cement grey roots.
‘Who did it Mammy?’
Crèche culture has introduced my daughter to blame. Someone must be at fault for my terrible aging.
So it seemed anyone timeto get the job done.
Sunday evening, I lashed on the supermarket dye. Piled my hair into a top knot. Slick with the unctuous liquid, towels everywhere, I showed my version of a ‘Mulan’ do to the girls. The raw state. The work in progress.
Delighted Gigi applauds.
‘Yea! You have lovely hair Mammy!’
I looked like Nanny Plum if she stuck her head into a semi-gelatinous jelly flood.
The next morning, I brushed out the freshly coloured, conditioned locks, somewhat proud of looking like me again. I looked expectantly to my daughter, keen for her to praise my hair in a state of glory.
‘AAwww. Your lovely hair is gone Mammy’.
The self- consciousness I had developed as a result of Gigi’s observation took on a whole new meaning.
Hair. It doesn’t really matter anymore.