Notes from the Small Pond....HAIR
By: Parnell Thill, Pine Journal
Nobody’s hair color is really their hair color. Girls, I mean. If you’re a girl, admit it. Your hair ain’t your hair. The color anyway. My daughter has the most gorgeous sunny-colored hair on the planet. The rest of her is crazy-beautiful, too. But her hair somehow has become unacceptable. She wears it various shades of bourbon-red-auburn and sometimes a variety of platinum-crimson that looks about as natural as everything north of Joan Rivers’ belly button. I just don’t get it. I know I’m old and everything, but I ain’t dumb. And I know what pretty looks like.
“Dad, it’s just hair. It’s fun to have fun with it.”
“I get that – I know you’re not defined by the color of your hair any more than I’m defined by the fluffiness of my eyebrows…but I still try to keep them trimmed so I don’t look like that dude from 60 Minutes.”
“So, I’m just wondering what’s wrong with your hair the way it really is.”
“And what’s wrong with your fluffy eyebrows?”
“Well, you’re making my point: My caterpillar eyebrows are not attractive. Your hair is.”
“But it’s MY hair. And I like having fun with it.”
“Alrighty. I’m just saying, I don’t get it.”
“Well, you’re not a girl.”
And then my wife walks in, fresh home from the salon, which is how this conversation started in the first place.
“So…what do you think?”
“I think – I know – you are absolutely sickeningly beautiful. You make my mouth water.”
“But what do you think about my hair?”
“What’d I just say?”
“You hate it.”
“You hate it.”
“I said you look beautiful.”
“But you hate my hair.”
“I love your hair and everything else.”
“See, you hate it, otherwise you wouldn’t have to include the everything else part.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
And then my daughter dives in. Two-against-one.
“…Geez, Dad! I LOVE it, Mom!”
“Hey, I said I love it, too!”
“You just don’t like anything but natural, boring hair color!”
“That’s not true, I think it’s beautiful – I think you’re both incredibly beautiful – that’s what I just said! Why am I in trouble?”
My wife, again, checking her hair in the mirror from different angles: “Well, I like it…”
Daughter: “Me too. I love it. It really compliments your skin tone.”
Me…cuz I can’t help myself…and because I’m a sadist-glutton-for-punishment: “…you mean it compliments her skin tone more than her natural hair? The hair that was born the same time as her skin tone?”
Four burning eyes laser through me.
“I’m just saying…I don’t get it…didn’t say I didn’t like it…”
Not good enough. Not by a long shot.
“Fine.” And then silence. For a long time. Double-team silence.
Hours later, the two of them playing gin rummy in front of the fireplace. Cozy and nice. Domestic tranquility. Until I come in with my book, hoping to slide into my chair, sip my Maker’s Mark, and blend in to the room, among them, like the omega I am.
“You two need anything? Glass of wine?”
Crickets. Then finally, in unison: “We’re good.”
And then I try, one more time: “Honey, I love your hair. I love the color of it. I love the shape of it. I love the smell of it, the feel of it, the way it frames your face, the way it moves when you walk. I love the texture of it in my hands. I love it when you have it wrapped up in a towel and little strands of it fall down over your eyebrows. I just love it. I just love you…”
She looks up from her cards. Both of them do. Neither say anything. Until I sit down, and then:
“Get us some wine.”
Cloquet resident Parnell Thill, former Pine Knot author of “Notes From the Small Pond” column for nearly a decade, is resurrecting the column on a limited basis as he works on a collection of short stories by the same title, along with other writing projects.