I carefully placed the side of my head on the very edge on my pillow so my hair hung off the end. I fell asleep feeling confident that my hair would be intact when I woke up, but with each toss and turn I could hear the crunch of my fake plastic hair. I felt each individual strand pull as my head sank further into my pillow. Before long I was having nightmares and all I could think was “I’m going to be bald” and irrationally worrying where I’d find a scarf to wear on my head. Then I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if all my hair fell out until a vision of Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta popped in my head. “I’ll never pull that off” I thought “She’s way cooler than me.”
My alarm went off and I jolted awake. “Just relax Gwen, your hair is fine.” I ran my fingers along my scalp just waiting to find a bald spot, but there were none. I couldn’t stand it any longer, I sat up, pulled off the headband and t-shirt as quickly but gently as possible and ran to the mirror in the bathroom.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
But wait! A closer inspection revealed exactly what I feared. All along the part lines on my scalp tiny broken hairs stood at attention like rows of tin soldiers. A sickening feeling crept into my stomach like I’d just swallowed a whole papaya. I dashed to the hallway and snatched a pair of scissors sitting on the ironing board. I grabbed a handful of hair and cut each braid right before the knot at the end. I furiously unraveled a braid and stared in horror at the wispy, crimped excuse for hair that remained. “I really am going to be bald.”
I’d offered to take Alexia to school, but I knew I couldn’t leave the house without removing every last braid.
I sheepishly walked into the living room where Alexia and Stephen sat on the couch.
“Uhh do you mind driving Alexia today?” I asked Stephen.
“It’s OK. What’s wrong?”
With what must have been a wild and frightened look in my eyes “The braids are ripping out my hair” and then I added for good measure, “I don’t want to be bald.”
He laughed “OK.”
“Ohh sorry” said Barita as she frequently does when something goes wrong, whether it’s her fault or not (it never is).
They left for school and Barita sat me down on the couch to help me untangle the wig on my head. I felt like a little kid who’d come home from school with gum stuck in their hair. She started yanking at some, but wanting to save every last strand of hair that remained, I came to a compromise with her. She would untwist and I would pull them out.
It got to a point where my hair was so curly and matted that I couldn’t figure out where mine ended and the fake hair began. They were almost all out when Stephen returned and walked into the living room to what must have been a pretty funny sight.
“Beauty is pain” was all he said as he walked by.
Barita decided to keep the hair so she could learn how to plait on one of Alexia’s dolls. I decided to never braid my hair again.
I made myself spend the day with my crazy crimped hair so I wouldn’t soon forget the lesson I’d learned. You’d think I’d have figured out “when I was a small girl”, as Alexia always says, that my head can’t handle perms, let alone braids…