A three part series where I share excerpts from my memoir titled Unicorns are pretty but they also bite. This series will cover my relationship with my hair because black hair is often talked about and criticized.
The slow path to reclaiming my hair: Haircuts
Fast forwarding about six years, I’m 17, overweight, nerdy, and still very quiet. Also, I still didn’t know what to do with my hair. What I did know is that I couldn’t cut it. That was unspeakable. Instead, I wore my hair in a pony tail. All day. Every day. I’m a ridiculously observant person so it didn’t take too long for me to notice that my hair was damaged, badly. My hair was breaking at the point where I put my scrunchie. After talking to my friends and various people, I realized I needed to get a haircut. Insert dun-Dun-DUN clip (Oh this is a book and I can’t do that? Oops)
My mom wasn’t exactly distraught but she wasn’t happy either at the idea of me cutting my beautiful hair. I opted to go to a local barbershop because a.) I was paying for it myself and b.) I didn’t want to spend hours to get it done. So my mom took me to Sam’s Barbershop.
All those ideas you have about an old-school barbershop run by a wise, endearing older black man were rolled up into Sam’s. Sam was tall (not taller than Benny), light skin with caramel colored skin, a small salt-n-pepper frow. Sam was funny but in a straight man kind of way. He could through a clever one-liner with the best of them. He was the only barber in a two-sitter salon. He had snack machine and he sold soft drinks out of a cooler. But, the piece de resistance was he owned a table top Pac Man. This was heads and shoulders better than anything Benny offered!
The most important thing about Sam was that he had no great love or admiration of hair. He wasn’t a stylist. He was a barber. He didn’t bat an eye when I sat down in his chair. I look my hair out of my pony tell and told him exactly where I wanted him to cut.
“Even it out?” he asked.
“Yes, sir. Even it out.” Fifteen minutes later, my hair was 4 inches shoulder and barely tickled my chin.
Everyone’s reaction to my drastic hair cut was varying shades of disapproval. What had I done? My hair was so long and pretty? Admittedly, it took me a couple of days to grapple with the fact I had done it. For the first time, in my entire life, my hair was short and I made the decision to do it. After all, I was starting to realize. It’s just hair.