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smahan
September 29th, 2010, 05:18 PM
The Haircut

For many, spontaneous do-it-yourself haircuts at two in the morning are the result of binge drinking, a mental breakdown, or boldly done in the name of a dare. Sometimes, a combination of the three. For Rachel, this alteration was more sober than drunk, an act of liberation than an act of insanity, and completely at her own free will. And it had happened more than once. For the past two years or so, Rachel’s haircuts weren’t jotted down on the Picasso calendar in her apartment, date and time written sloppily in blue ink. They weren’t planned in any sense, just at the oncoming of an urge for a trim (and most always that urge came after midnight) she’d search for the sharp orange scissors she kept in the sewing kit she never used.
Rachel wasn’t sure what she sought on this particular night, staring past her bedroom mirror, and through the brick walls of her Brooklyn apartment. She admired the symmetry of her makeup-less face, and removed her hair elastic, freeing the messy bun on top of her head. Waves of golden brown hair spilled midway down her back, messy and thick. She loved her hair, an extension of her personality--carefree, natural, a little crazy, and a bit frenzied. Ask her four hours ago and she would’ve said she never wanted to cut her hair; that she wouldn’t cut it until the end of summer. When she showered the next morning she’d regret her late night decision, as she tried to shampoo ends that just weren’t there. But she moved on impulse, gathering her hair to a low ponytail and abruptly cutting off the ends.
Maybe it was the string of recent bad hair days, leading her to believe a haircut would be a fresh change. Maybe it was her sexual frustration, the scissors an outlet for her insatiable void. Or maybe it was simply that she wanted to rid herself of ratty dead ends. Either way, she chopped up into the hair, little snippets creating uneven, asymmetrical ends--ends that made her smile when she thought of their resistance to conformity, ends that made her WASP-y mother cringe. Ends imperfect like her.
Only two inches fell bittersweet casualties. Running her hands through the choppy layers and tapered ends, there was a feeling much akin to that of the moments after a spring sun shower. It was almost as if she were looking forward to the anticipation of growth, the day when her hair would be happily back to the length it had been just minutes ago. Anticipation tinged with regret for that week or so of awkwardness after a haircut. That initial week when Rachel knew she wouldn’t be able to roll out of bed, satisfied with her hair loose and free. Knew she’d miss those two inches. Knew she’d wonder why she cut her already beautiful hair in the first place.
Under the philosophy that there is a reason for everything, the haircut’s reason was unidentifiable. It was propelled by everything—that last phone call she had mustered the courage to hang up on, the ugly boy she slept with just for the sake of surface level sex, the pollen pond spring swims, body image rollercoaster, and recent, relative sobriety. Each time she cut her hair for different reasons, each time offering, forcing, a reason to analyze herself and her current situation.
Rachel picked up her hair elastic, twisting her hair into a messy bun once again, and crawled into her cool, fluffy bed, lulling off into a restful sleep.

Olly Buckle
September 29th, 2010, 07:07 PM
"At" may be a transatlantic thing but I would have said "of" her own free will. Good.

YiF97
August 16th, 2012, 03:06 PM
I find this story interesting. You have good descriptions of different emotions, and randomly asking: was this post spontaneous?

Jo Tampoco
October 26th, 2012, 11:00 AM
Yes - interesting and readable. (So much for the faint praise.)
My strongest overall reaction is that it could be more economical with the language. It feels like something that could do with a more poetic style, instead of making things quite so obvious - for example - "She loved her hair, an extension of her personality--carefree, natural, a little crazy, and a bit frenzied." I feel that that description of herself is implicit in the rest of the piece. Saying it like that is sort of forcing it on us somehow. You've practically had her tell us what she thinks she's like, which makes her sound a bit more self-involved that I think she is. I think she's cooler than that. I distrust people who describe themselves as 'crazy' or 'natural' is I suppose what it comes down to. ('irritating' and 'unreliable' is usually what it means in my experience)
More examples
"Maybe it was her sexual frustration, the scissors an outlet for her insatiable void." seems like forcing a point too (possibly horribly literally).
"--ends that made her smile when she thought of their resistance to conformity, ends that made her WASP-y mother cringe. Ends imperfect like her."
"the moments after a spring sun shower. It was almost as if she were looking forward to the anticipation of growth,"
"It was propelled by everything...Each time she cut her hair for different reasons, each time offering, forcing, a reason to analyze herself and her current situation."
Does that make the slightest bit of sense?
The rest of what you've written is so much more light and elegant, and so much better at making the point. You don't need to explain all the time.
ps. what is a pollen pond? Sounds like a nice place to swim.

undrian
November 16th, 2012, 04:10 AM
The ambiguity of hair cutting here is fascinating, as a ritual obsessive repeated action the protagonist herself doesn't understand. To me, it evokes the gender politics of hair, which the author suggests (because the character hung up the phone, or whom she slept with, or her body image). Think of the Amish beard cutting spree, Mitt Romney cutting an alleged homosexual classmate's effeminate bangs in high school, the religions where a married woman cannot cut her hair, or an adult male Sikh, and on and on. And then the author pulls the punch, and only trims two inches. Cool. I'm sure the style and language will evolve, it's a vision like this that's hard to come by.

cazann34
November 22nd, 2012, 05:55 PM
I loved this. It reminded me of my own self-cut disasters. Very well written.

chrisl
November 29th, 2012, 08:50 AM
As a guy who just shaves his head with a #8 razor every couple of months out on the back steps (easier to clean), I thought this was interesting. But man, she sure does think a lot about her hair!

Pluralized
December 5th, 2012, 04:07 AM
This was written and posted over two years ago, so I'm not sure this person is still around to read what I'm posting. Still, I'll say I quite enjoyed reading this and it flows along very well.

Nicely done. :joyous:

Mutimir
December 9th, 2012, 04:32 PM
As a guy who just shaves his head with a #8 razor every couple of months out on the back steps (easier to clean), I thought this was interesting. But man, she sure does think a lot about her hair!

It's a woman bro...I predict the sequel will be about her shoes.