It happened in the country decades ago. My little sister and I were watching my mother cutting our father's hair on a Saturday night by the light of a coal-oil lamp. He was draped with an old sheet and seated on a kitchen chair. Another old sheet was on the floor around the chair to catch the clumps of dark hair that fell from the slender scissors wielded with expertise. I had seen this done many times but eight-year-old Elizabeth seemed to be fascinated. I wondered why. She was especially enthralled by the clicking sound the clippers made as the back of the neck was trimmed.
On the next Monday after school I had a glimmer. Elizabeth begged our mother to cut bangs in her hair.
“Joyce in my class has bangs, “ she pleaded, “they look so nice.”
Mother refused saying that bangs took too long to grow out if you wanted to change your hair style.
“But I won't want to change.” Elizabeth declared. Both she and I had long hair that was parted in the middle and fashioned into two braids every morning. Sometimes it was brushed out and festooned with rags at night to make ringlets for special occasions.
“No, and there's an end of it..no bangs!” and Mother glared at me too for good measure.
But of course it wasn't the “end of it” for Elizabeth. She waited, her determination to have bangs like Joyce growing as each day passed. Every morning her hair was braided as usual and it wasn't until something wonderful happened that she got her chance.
The something wonderful was a wedding shower to which we were invited. We had our tub baths on Friday night intead of Saturday and our hair was shampooed, brushed out and “done up” in rags for the party the next afternoon. Elizabeth made note of where the combs, scissors and clippers were kept and went happily to bed, but not to sleep very soundly. It wasn't the bumps the rags made that kept her awake however.
Elizabeth didn't accompany my mother and me to the wedding shower. She was given all her chores to do and mine as well under house arrest. Disobedience in our family was not a light thing.
She had looked pathetic when she finally came down to breakfast that morning. There were tear streaks on her cheeks with a few stray hairs clinging to the dampness they had caused.
“Why did you cut your bangs so short?” I asked, truly feeling sorry for her.
“ I couldn't do it straight so I just kept cutting.” she moaned, tears threatening again.
Mother was silent for a few minutes and then she said, “ Well, when they grow out a bit I'll trim them properly, but until then......”
Oh, that “until then” interim of teasing at home and school was like forever to an eight-year-old!
When it was hair-cutting time again for our father, Elizabeth played with her dolls or read books in her room.
That was a long time ago. And I have an appointment today for a haircut at Elizabeth's salon. She is in high demand in town and I was lucky to get in but she always makes time for me!