What I’m Built For

Much to the chagrin of my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Anna Beth Dawson, my mother and my husband, I am not a girly-girl.

Mrs. Dawson was concerned for me my entire year before junior high because I thought the school uniform was jeans and a clean shirt, when in fact we had no uniform at all.

Also it was the year peanut track shoes were all the rage and they could be bought at the Famous Department Store in Iowa Park for a really good price. I lived in those shoes as well and Mrs. Dawson was horrified at the lack of arch support and other nefarious shortcomings the peanut track shoe offered.

Behold, the peanut track shoe

She even once used part of a class period to illustrate just how crappy the shoes were by picking out one of the 20 kids in her class who was wearing them to model while she extolled the virtues of real shoes.

Still, we persisted.

My own mother, who I suspect is Barbie reincarnated, just looks at me most of the time and slowly shakes her head, particularly on my curly hair days.

My husband, though, won’t give up. He continues to encourage my use of a fork with tacos, as well as an occasional go at nail polish.

None of them, I can report, has been able to change my ways.

I still live in jeans and usually-clean shirts. When I wear a dress, people offer me condolensces for my loss.

I traded my peanut track shoes for Rocket Dogs with user-inserted arch support (thank you for the lesson, Mrs. Dawson. I was listening). My hair is curly roughly 67% of the time now, and I don’t wear makeup to the grocery store.  I eat tacos like an eagle eats a fish, with both hands.

And I occasionally give painting my nails a shot. But when I do, I mess it up because I have a odd habit of occasionally sitting on my hands.  And I only remember that I have that rare habit right after I paint my nails and then sit on my hands.

I wasn’t built for all that.

I was built for laughing at things only a bunch of women who are alone together and uncensored would understand.

I was built for writing things because I am tired of thinking about them.

And, I was built for giving myself permission to not be a Barbie doll, or even her less attractive cousin, Madge.

And all of those people still love me, even Mrs. Dawson. Remember that.

People do love who you really are. If that’s not good enough, it’s not love.

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Yes, you can enter a peace treaty with your hair

A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between the parties. It is different from an armistice, which is an agreement to stop hostilities, or a surrender, in which an army agrees to give up arms, or a ceasefire or truce in which the parties may agree to temporarily or permanently stop fighting. ”

Love, Wikipedia

Lord God, I love Wikipedia.

My hair and I, after more than half a century of co-habitating, have entered the “Peace Treaty” phase of our relationship. Wikipedia confirms it.

I know I am not the only one.

This phase comes after the honeymoon, “whatever you say, dear,” and “you have got to be kidding me” phases most relationships meander through.

So after much thought and 20 years of straightening my hair almost daily, I recogize I have been at war with my hair, and a Chi iron has been my weapon of choice.

My Chi has helped me daily to  go from looking “most likely electrocuted” to “less traumatic”  in only 45 minutes.

The peace treaty thing only began in the last couple years as I’ve gotten older, and lazier. Also, a side effect of straightening irons is turning your hair into dehydrated straw.

Although entering into a peace treaty with one’s hair may sound a little left of center – and I’m not bragging, but – I’ve lived through some incredibly weird stuff.

Things, as I’m sure most of us are well aware, are crazy everywhere right now.

People (who should) not understanding the difference between vetted news and social media.

Our country’s politics have never been weirder – and this comes from somebody who has a thank you note from President Nixon. I think he had phlebitis and I sent him a get well card when I was like nine years old. I was like a tiny female version of Alex Keaton with unruly hair.

I have personally witnessed the opening of a box of fresh cow dung sent to the Leader office and pinned with Texas Lt. Governor Bob Bullock’s business card, that had been sent to my Dad after he wrote some unfavorable columns about Bullock.

In light of how my life has played out so far combined with the historical timeline of my hair, I figure how weird would it be to enter into a peace treaty with my hair?

Not very.

As a young child I commonly looked as though I had been raised by wild wolves –  I was usually running around wearing minimal clothing, my curly hair going in 16 different directions. When I turned 11, my mother took me to local beautician Joan Green to get my hair cut, and had secretly arranged (read: without my knowledge) that I would get the Dorothy Hamill haircut that was so popular in 1976, after she won in Olympic figure skating.

It was one of the saddest days of my life.

For a while, I looked like I was raised by wolves who somehow learned to use scissors. I did not look like Dorothy Hamill.

I muddled through the next decade looking confused and curly.

I lucked out in the 1980’s and 90’s, when the school of thought in Texas was “The higher the bangs, the closer to Jesus.”

My hair was actually made for those two decades of my life. I even got a perm because I wanted to be as close to Jesus as possible. Also, I used Aqua Net. It was tall hair season and I was winning.

Then somebody invented the Chi iron and made my mother a happy woman. She gets nervous when she sees my hair curly to this very day. I must have been a fairly bad kid for her to still recoil, which might explain why I got a thank you note from President Nixon.

In addition, my husband has a condition that makes his tongue bleed when my hair is curly. Me asking “does my hair look all right?” usually starts the ball rolling.

And yet, I’m still in talks with this mass of curly mess on my head because I’ve been at war too long, and I’m tired.

*** Nest week:  They Call Me Princess Leia.

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