I hate my haircut. I really hate it.
I'm just going to thin it out a little for summer, the stylist said. I said, OK, not too much though.
She holds the mirror up so I can see the back of my head and it is -- yes, it is thin. Little rat-tails hanging down my back. Well, it's too late. She can't put any back.
I get home and the boy at my house tells me I look like Aileen Wuornos. Aileen Wuornos, if you don't know, was a north Florida roadside prostitute -- abused child, unwed mother, teenage runaway. We just watched a documentary about her. Sad life. According to her court testimoney, she was raped by at least one john, sadistically -- afterwards, she said, he poured rubbing alcohol on her vagina and her anus, to make it hurt more. She shot him dead.
She went on to shoot six more johns, all of whom, she says, were trying to rape her. But you have to think that after so much hurting by so many, the lines got blurry in her mind about who was trying to hurt her and who wasn't, necessarily. She was put to death by lethal injection in 2002, but not before the police made a deal with the productions companies and there were a couple of movies about it and everybody made a lot of money.
Anyway, she's dead now.
"Just, you know, how it's kind of thin at the bottom and poufy on top," says the boy. It's a spectacularly cruel comparison, and I don't think the boy means to be this cruel. I don't know what he means. I look in the mirror. Thin little rat-tails and poufy bangs. It's supposed to be trendy. This is what I get for letting a hipster stylist cut my hair when I am not really a hipster. North Florida psychotic roadside prostitute death-row hair.
My hair is one thing about me I've always thought was beautiful. It's the color of lightly tarnished copper and it's shiny and thick. When I was fifteen it was down to my waist. I let it hang in my face -- a curtain of lovely between the world and my ugly mug. That year somebody took a picture of me. I hated having my picture taken, anyway. The picture came back and it was so fucking hideous. Thick stripes of hair and a thin strip of face in between: Wednesday Adams scowl and big purple circles around my eyes like somebody punched me twice. I demanded my mother cut my hair off, all of it. She did. I mourned. Not pretty anymore.
A few years later, I'd learned to give myself bangs by pulling my hair to the front, twisting it into a spiral and snipping it off with table scissors. I was 19 and proud of being rough. My everyday uniform was wifebeater undershirts and jeans rolled up to mid-calf. I flicked my cigarette ash into the cuffs. Burn marks from working as a grill cook latticed up my arms and made me feel hard and good.
But that was ten years ago and today I'm meeting a new dancing client. On the drive to the coffee shop I keep checking my hair in the rearview mirror. Sometimes it looks OK and sometimes it really doesn't. Also, I've got band-aids on both elbows from where I flew ass-over-handlebars off my bike Saturday while attempting to drink lemonade and ride downhill. It was a good fall; I covered my face and took it all on my forearms, leaving big smears of DNA on the pavement. At least I didn't hurt the moneymaker. But I've also got a spray of dime-sized purple bruises on my thigh where it hit the asphalt. They look like they could be finger marks, which is bad; customers wonder if you're getting punched up at home. I look in the rearview mirror again. I feel rough, and today it doesn't make me feel good.
This business is all about looking good, and not just good, but expensive. Like a luxury product, like someone who can set their price and stick to it, someone who can say "Don't touch me there" and mean it. Desirable. Professional. Sought after. In control. You can't look desperate. You can't look second-best.
I could cancel, but dudes get cagey when you do that and sometimes that's the last you hear from them. Unless your leg is in a cast, it's better to just play through. I get to the coffee shop early, order my latte and sit down with my book. Over the top of Mandy Aftel's Essence and Alchemy, I scout each man who comes through the door. I think it's the guy in the plaid shirt with the blue eyes. He pays for his iced tea and meets my eyes. Smiles, walks towards me. Yes. OK. I stick out my hand.