Crissy’s hair is more beautiful than baby smiles. Its length, like butter, its length, like, long. After she showers, she has to pull one or two strands out of her butt crack. She pulls and pulls and it seems to never end, this lengthy butter. When she pulls it up in a messy bun atop her head, she calls it “octopus hair,” the sticks of curls splayed out like tentacles. Oh, her hair! Like a blankey! A smock! Angelic! But she doesn’t trust anyone to cut it. They will screw up; they only went to beauty school for so few months. They give the same woman, interchangeable with thousands of others, the same haircut:
Make me like Jennifer Aniston, they say.
Short, like Sharon Osborne’s—she’s old like me!
Like Taylor Swift.
Like Meg Ryan in the ’80s.
Like Meg Ryan in the ’90s.
Like Angelina Jolie; don’t I already have her lips, their smack?
Crissy starts pinning her hair up and covering it with a scarf. For weeks, she wears dark glasses, goes to beauty salons and says she has an appointment, and immediately sits. One man asks the stylist for “the Brad Pitt.”
“I don’t think you have the jawline for that,” Crissy says, and the Brad Pitt turns his back to her. Crissy takes pictures of the customers as they leave, hiding near corners, pretending like she is stepping out for a dainty cigarette, like a Virginia Slim, or just a lady waiting for the crosswalk light to tell her it’s safe. It’s so easy with a cell phone camera. Crissy goes to chain salons: Fiesta, BoRics, Great Clips. She makes trips to expensive boutiques with names like Shear Chaos, Cutting Edge, E-clips, and Jungle Fusion. The Christina Aguileras and Liv Tylers who leave all look terrible yet satisfied with themselves for being someone else. Crissy uploads the pictures at home on her computer, turns her screen saver into a slide show of hair. She looks for something that stands out, anything different that will help her discover the best version of herself.
By now she is really smoking instead of as a cover, and the ashtray is full. When she picks up the glass dish, she knocks over her jar of pens, pencils, and…small purple-handled scissors? Who better to trust than Playskool? Which hand better than her own? Which brain knows her brain better than her brain? Crissy showers, pretending her hands are someone else’s massaging her scalp, rinsing, spreading the conditioner thick, rinsing…
She closes her eyes when she runs the wide-tooth comb through her hair, starting down by her butt and combing up and up and up.
“Which side do you usually put the part on?” she asks.
“I have no natural part,” she answers, “but I’m inclined to split it down the middle when it’s this long.”
“Do you use a special shampoo? It’s so soft!”
“Well, how would you like it cut? I value your input greatly.”
“When the wind blows I want to look fierce!”
“Do you want to look like Tyra Banks? She says fierce.”
“I am my own version of fierce.”
“Well, I’m going to spin you away from the mirror. That way, I can reveal the final look to you.” Crissy turns away from the medicine cabinet. She pulls her hair over her left shoulder. She closes her eyes, closes the scissor blades until the plastic handles touch. “I can’t look!”
The bottom of her hair now makes a 45-degree angle. Crissy pulls the length of her hair over her right shoulder, repeating the steps. The bottom is straighter, but not correct. She cuts again and again, right shoulder, left shoulder, right left right. She cuts faster, afraid to stop and see that she doesn’t like what she sees. Red lines gouge into her fingers where she holds the Playskool plastic handles like a lifeline. Shorter and shorter, passing the Courtney Cox, passing the Kirsten Dunst, passing the Halle Berry, cutting into her scalp. Crissy removes skin, letting the meat strips fall to the floor in piles of her destroyed butter locks, her self, the only thing she thought she trusted. She thinks of Jessica Alba, or Megan Fox, of how beautiful they are, so thin, and she begins cutting strips of body from under her arms, from the soft of her belly. She cuts the skin on her thighs, pulling the pieces back like curtains on opening night. This is subcutaneous fat made functional when she presses two pieces to her mouth, holds them in place with her lips. She is the Angelina Jolie, naked, perfect; she is someone else entirely.
All rights reserved to Melanie Page.