Letter #20: Sin, Scissors & Sisters


I have this saying “Until you’ve messed up your hair, you aint lived.” I can mark 5 times I’ve been given a new lease on life!

Incident #1 – I was 4 years old and well I kept looking at the pair of scissors – they were after all, eye level to me on the big dresser in my big sister(s) room. They were shiny silver, (now what kid is gonna resist something shiny and silver?), huge, and well – the little, big blue eyed girl with white blonde hair hanging down her back kept looking and looking at that gleam of bladed wonderment.

Sin, temptation – the inability to stop yourself had reared its ugly head. Snip, Snip went the little golden locks – one side of my head only. I now was the proud owner of a “bob” or technically half a “bob”. . . or whatever they called it. The photo above is proof one of the girls straightened the mess out and that’s probably why I trusted them to “trim” my bangs at the age of 15. . . which leads to incident #2.

It was a wintry day and 2 of my older sisters (Maureen and Lizzie) were home visiting (young adults – one married, one single . . . the other ones were not present for their visit with their little sister – I have 5 sisters.) So there I sat getting my hair “trimmed” – bangs remember, well lets just say the trimming became a TRIMMING and before I knew it I looked like Linda McCartney of the Paul McCartney variety. In case you’re wondering what that means, it means Linda McCartney had her hair styled in the 1970’s just like Big Bird off of Sesame Street. Needless to say it took them 2 hours to “trim” my hair – I remember that because my father was making chili and it was finished and ate by the time they were done “trimming”! Can I also tell you during this little event they kept assuring me (while muffling their laughter, whispering to each other behind my head, and each taking turns with the scissors) that they could fix it – and well I believed them. And awaited my hot steaming bowl of homemade chili. Dad was a great chili maker – it was the only hope I could cling to.

Now on to event #3 which likewise involved another sister (Cherie). Before I go there, I feel compelled to tell you how fortunate I was that yet another sister of mine, Martha (remember I have 5 of these gems), had not been present for our “chili hair trimming dinner”.   Oddly enough this tale involves food also, specifically “McDONulds Fench Fies” – that’s what my 3 year old niece kept saying while her mother (my sister Martha) “trimmed” her bangs into a 3 year old boys haircut! “McDONulds Fench Fies” is what little Amy repeated every time her momma said — “Amy, Momma’s gonna buy you McDonald’s french fries, you’re being so patient, Honey!” So see, there is a bright spot (momentarily) in my saga here of “Sin, Scissors and Sisters.” – Martha wasn’t there for my bang trimming chili dinner.

Now if you’re keeping track I’ve mentioned 4 of 5 sisters and told on 3 (Maureen, Martha & Lizzie). . . and this is where I’d like to say telling on Cherie would be unfair – after all she was a student barber learning a craft involving cutting hair into short “do’s for dudes.” Yep, I yet again needed my bangs trimmed. What the crap is wrong with me – I had enough guts to do it when I was 4 years old why couldn’t I muster that same “gutsy” nerve again and do it myself!

Here’s why – the bangs back then involved a long slanted skill that feathered rather than snipped its way across your hair line – you know like Farrah Fawcett. You’ve lost all sympathy for me haven’t you? I deserved whatever happened to me from this event didn’t I? You’ve remembered the part where I said she was a student barber haven’t you?

So there I sat for 3 stinking hours only this time nobody was cooking chili. I had nothing to look forward to. And Cherie wasn’t laughing – she was trying really hard. Lizzie however – the sister I was living with at the time, the one who was going to pick me up after my haircut did not feel as compelled to restrain herself upon my entry into the car. It was a full on bust out loud laughing.   My response – “Shut up and drive – I want McDONulds Fench Fies.”

Yep, that’s how I ended up with my short hair “do” I currently sport – and btw, I honestly love short “do’s” . . . it’s just the coloring part I need help with which leads into incident #4. This event “Hilga The Hooker” wasn’t the first time I spent $2.97 and screwed my hair color up. Nope there were others – only this time it was blonde coloring. Or more specifically “School Bus Yellow” blonde coloring that I was lamenting over the phone with my sister Sally (for those of you counting – she’s #5 of 5 sisters). I actually was in tears standing in my kitchen at the apartment, David was 4 years old and watching his mother crying into the phone – listening intently and clinging to my legs trying to console me. He heard me describing the mess on my head and when I described it as looking like a school bus he looked up at me and said “No, it doesn’t, Momma . . . it looks like my favorite flower!”

David’s favorite flower at the age of 4 was dandelions. I cried harder.

Nope, no chili, no french fries was taking that one away nor the one I’ve currently got “flairing” off of the top of my head (incident #5). And now David isn’t clinging to my legs as he had as a child, instead he grabbed his momma and laughing told me he thought it looked great!   I laughed and shoved him away and told him I looked like a hooker! Laughing, he said “Maybe you shouldn’t wear the gray eye shadow anymore”.   I love that Brat! He always finds a way to make his momma laugh!

So what did I do next besides tell my husband he could call me “Hilga” again – I texted my sister Martha a picture, then called her. Her response. . .well after the part where she told me she gasped upon seeing it – “I like it!” My response – “You don’t understand, Martha – it’s way worse than the photo, it’s “RED”. She laughed. I laughed. She then asked the question ALL of you are wondering – what did the color on the box say? Ha!   Like I’m ever telling you all that!

I’ll end with this – I’m soon to be 54 years old, I’ve screwed up my hair – it’s flaming red, way too dark and way too red for my old pale white skin but to be honest I find it hilarious (other than the part about it perhaps hurting my ability to find gainful employment). That there is something wonderful about having memories of stupid crap that happens to you and sisters who’ve walked that road out with you. To be honest I’d forgotten about how good dad’s chili was, how funny it was when my niece would say “McDONulds fench fies”, that sometimes the wrong becomes a right for you (short hair really does look better on me) and that my son will always make me laugh and my husband still loves his woman – Hilga 🙂