In keeping with my status as not a cancer patient, I have foregone wigs, scarves and hats. That decision has been aided greatly by the 100+ degree heat. So yeah, I'm pretty much running around topless....er, no, um, headless......no,...um... bald, no, well, there is some hair, so, well....headcovering-less. Me. I've decided to just run around as me. Me, currently. And mostly I forget that I look any different at all. Lucky me, I don't see myself most of the day. I get to just experience getting ready in 20 minutes flat, not having any hair flying into my face, eyes or nostrils all day and being a lot cooler in general. And I mean that temperature-wise.
The reaction has been mostly good; but then I'm mostly around people who know this was not a hairstyle choice. I did have an encounter with a staring child in a public restroom who seemed a bit appalled at my hair, but it resulted in a sort of "well you can't have it both ways" moment with myself.
I've mentioned before I'm not much of a kid person. But, despite my lack of innate ability, little girls used to like me. I think it's because for the most part many years ago I, oddly, used to look like what girls seem to think girls are supposed to look like (i.e. I was tall, blonde and what passed for thin before anorexic became the new thin). That and I didn't and still don't talk to children in a child's voice. I don't have a child's voice. I have a whiskey and cigarettes voice, so even if I tried to raise it to mimic a child's voice I'd get to "normal adult female voice" at best. Despite all these impediments, little girls used to like me. I can vividly recall being in church one Christmas, festively dressed in bright red, when I was about 34 or 35 years old and still celebrated Christmas. And went to church. (I am Catholic enough that I hedge my bets against that whole burning in hell thing by at least showing up for the annual lapsed Catholic holiday ritual. Plus, at the time I was married to a man who thought he was going to burn in hell merely because he had married the likes of me.) The little girl in the pew in front of me kept turning around and staring, and then smiling, and eventually waving. And I mean through the entire mass (which, for the information of you non-Catholics, is 238 hours and 14 minutes). Her mother noticed this about halfway through and tried to correct the behavior by turning first the child's face, then her entire body away from me. The mother finally asked the inevitable "what are you staring at?" question. The little girl whispered into her mother's ear. The mother turned back and looked at me and spent the rest of the mass visibly shaking in her effort to not burst out laughing.
I was having no trouble not laughing and I think I may have started to glare at the little girl as a stand-in for her mother, who was decidedly not turning around again. When mass ended the mother did turn to me, barely containing her laughter, and said, "I'm really sorry. I should explain. My daughter thinks you're Barbie."
Not even Lawyer Barbie. Freakin' Christmas Barbie. Visions of child abuse danced in my head. But this little girl was just glowing smiling at me. I managed to deduce that from a child's point of view this was probably a huge compliment and not an attack on my I.Q. So I mumbled something like "Oh, thanks. That's, uh, cute." And I went home, pulled my hair back into a tight school marm bun and burned my red dress.
Flash forward to this week and I'm standing at a sink in the restroom in my building at work, washing my hands, when I notice the little girl at the sink next to me has stopped mid hand wash, to stare in slack-jawed horror at my head. Maybe she thought a man had come into the restroom. And if that was the case a "Hi little girl" from my whiskey-cigarette voice was not going to help. So I just smiled at her.
Nothing. I got nothing. She just stood there, oblivious to the open faucet creating another several months of water shortage, looking at my head. I smiled again, this time trying to convey "you're being rude, future Heather" and contemplating whether I should or should not mention "cancer." Just then her mother appeared. I smiled at the mother and left before I could see if mother had the squinty "oh you have cancer look."
Okay, so I wasn't crazy about the Barbie thing. But I don't really want to be scaring little girls in public restrooms either. (Alright, maybe I do just a little bit.) I'm hoping for a happy medium sometime soon.
So tonight when we went out to the Street Food Omakase event I opted for the "I just came back from consulting my guru in Sedona where I planned my next trip to the Costa Rican rain forest on paper I made by hand while sipping green tea in the lotus position (for 16 hours)" look.
Roryann's sister, ERIN GUNNETTE , who in the past several months recognized me as a blonde "old Britney", a red-head and even a brunette, failed to recognize me at all. Hey, at least she didn't call me "Sir."
P.S. (That's me on the left, in case you are confused. And that's my friend NANCY CARPENTER. We manage to get together about every 15 years. And that started in 3rd grade. Let me assure you however, we did not play with Barbies.)