daughtersofnormabates











{August 2, 2012}   Flower Girl

When I was seven, my hair was long, straight and past my waist. Mother would pull the long strands through a rubber band into a high ponytail while I groaned about the brush hurting my head. “Why are you so tender headed?” Mother hissed as she raked my scalp and pulled the ponytail tight. She twisted the bundle of hair in her hands until a headache formed in my eyes. Then, she tied a bow with leftover gift ribbon in a color to match my scratchy woolen skirt.

I liked my hair but I was tired wearing it in a ponytail and I wanted bangs. When I asked Mother to cut my bangs, she said, “No. You don’t need bangs.” But it was my hair and I wanted bangs! If I was going to have bangs, I’d have to  to cut them myself. I looked for scissors in the sewing table. The only pair I could find were large and heavy with sharp, jagged teeth. I climbed on top of my chest of drawers where a mirror hung and grabbed a chunk of hair. This was going to be harder than I thought. I cut the whole front of my hair with the pinking shears, long blonde strands falling on the floor. When I was finished, I was delighted with the results. I skipped into the living room where Mother was resting on the couch. “Look at me! I have bangs now!” I laughed and danced around her. “You have ruined your hair!” she shouted. Her words felt like a kick in the stomach. I stopped dancing and fell into a lump on the floor. I choked out the words, “I’m sorry.”

Mother was mad. “I’m tired of brushing your stringy hair anyway.” She told me to go to the bathroom and sit on the commode. She came in with a pair of scissors and told me to sit still. She started hacking at my hair with the scissors. When she finished, my hair was short and uneven. It looked like yellow straw sticking out from behind my ears.

This was not good because I was supposed to be a flower girl at a wedding soon. There was no time to grow my hair out again. So, Mother decided to fix it with a Toni home permanent. It was a rainy Saturday. Mother laid towels on the kitchen counter. She told me to sit in the red chrome table chair and rolled my hair in tissues and tiny pink plastic rollers. “Keep your eyes closed!” she snarled as she poured the perm mixture over the rollers, shielding my eyes with a towel. The smell was awful, like rotten eggs.  After what seemed like hours, she rinsed my hair while I leaned over the kitchen sink standing on a step stool. My neck hurt as she removed the rollers and dropped them in the sink. I ran to the bathroom mirror to see what I looked like. My hair sprang into tiny wet ringlets all over my head. When it was dry, my hair was a giant frizz ball and smelled like wet tires.

The wedding was the next weekend. I had my yellow crinoline dress, white socks and black patent leather shoes ready to go. Mother and I showed up for the rehearsal on Friday night. I was excited because I was picking up the basket with flowers and I would get to throw them in handfuls down the aisle.

When the bride, saw me, she looked upset. She whispered something to my mother and they went out into the hallway. I stood nearby. “Why did you cut Lynn’s hair? It was so long and beautiful. I chose her as my flower girl because of her hair.”

“Lynn cut her own hair and I tried to fix it” I heard Mother say.

I didn’t want to be a flower girl anymore, dropping petals of flowers for the bride. I wanted to hide.

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