Lauren Dennis is a mother of two, violently fighting against the confinement that may or may not come with that title. She writes because she has to and will be published this month for the first time. She has received formal critique and feedback from the Lighthouse Writer's Workshop in Denver, Colorado, where she resides.
She seemed put out. I thought I would be her ideal client, willing to go short or long. The hair didn't matter to me. Being cool did. Maybe that was the part that bugged her. People can see through that shit.
"So what are we doing today?," she said, fingering my hair and squinting in disgust. “I would like a pixie cut,” I said, applauding myself on my willingness to go short on a whim. "What's that?" she said. I laughed. I thought she was joking. "I'm not really sure what it is."
Things weren’t going well. I wanted to appear chill, unencumbered, light and easy. It wasn’t natural for me. I wasn’t that way: light. I was intense, encumbered with two kids, and I had to fight for every minute to myself. Rosie the Riveter wading through married life, hatchet in hand, scowl, permanent. " A pixie cut...it's like a little fairy cut, " I said, defining the word 'pixie' for her.
She looked at herself in the mirror for too long, playing with her own orange hair.
I wanted to tell her it looked like Rainbow Brite gone wrong. She continued looking in the mirror. I would have forgiven her if it appeared she was assessing its validity as a color choice, but she appeared satisfied. "I have some pictures if you want," I offered.
"Yeah, that might be better, although (she stopped to look at herself again in the mirror) I can't make it look exactly like the picture," she said schooling me on the wily ways of reality and haircuts and the cross-section thereof. Sometimes it didn’t look like the picture, how deep. How like life that way.
I flipped through my phone, finger shaking, to show her images of “pixie cuts”.
She grabbed my small phone and pulled it closer to her face. She smelled like hair chemical and generic lotion. "These are all different. What do you like about them?"
I swallowed the lump in my throat. I had escaped for a much needed haircut, a mom of 2 on a rare adventure, and now I was holding back tears. "I like that it's (swallow) short." "Okay," she sighed, "take off your glasses."
Without them on, I couldn't see. I felt vulnerable, a small mole blinking toward scattered sunlight. “How's this?" She grabbed some hair between her index and middle fingers and held it at an unseen level on my forehead.
"Sure!" I agreed. I wanted it to be over as soon as possible. On the way home, at each stoplight, I looked in the rearview mirror and smiled at myself. It was the perfect haircut; light, easy, edgy, anti-Mom.
When I get home, the girls squint in disgust. “Ew, Mom, you look like a boy.” I think about using this as a teachable moment about gender norms. Instead I smile and say, “Well, girls, you can’t please all of the ladies all of the time.”