Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In praise of leaving my head alone

by guest blogger Kelly Davio / kellydavio.com

Throughout my life, my relationship with my hair has involved a certain amount of magical thinking.

Take, for example, the time in middle school when I unleashed a full can of my grandmother’s Paul Mitchell mousse (the one that smells like rancid coconut) on my stick-straight hair in hopes that I’d suddenly have a head full of curls. What I had was a crunchy, tentacled slab of dirty blonde mess and a nine-foot radius of odor that just about knocked my classmates over in the halls.

(Photo from www.foodnetwork.com/
Then, in high school, in the mercifully isolated cultural moment when toothy, stretch-comb headbands were all the rage, I invested in a multi-pack of the things and gamely attached them to my head each morning. Because I didn’t have enough hair to hold adequate tension in said headband, the combs would creep up my skull throughout the day until, before I realized it, the entire apparatus would be protruding from the back of my head, looking unsettlingly like a crown roast of lamb. Although I realized I wasn’t achieving the look I was after, I kept wearing them, day after day, thinking something would change.

We can be forgiven, of course, for our teenaged hair ineptitude, but my lack of hair awareness stretched on a bit longer into adult life, from my interest in bleaching my hair in the bathroom sink to thinking that I could mix up a nice raven black from a box of curious looking powder on sale at Sally Beauty Supply. (If you’re tempted to try either of those options, by the way, please choose the bleach. A professional should be able to color over the banana-colored mess you’ll make. But when you henna yourself into the likeness of General Gadaffi, with that same black-hole of a hairdo that seems incapable of allowing any light to escape itself, you’re on your own.)

In fact, I was in my 30s before I quit abusing my own hair in one way or another. When I learned I’d be spending much of a recent summer laid up in bed after a pretty nasty surgery, I decided that my best option was to cut my hair very short, then let it grow back in its natural color. I didn’t want, after all, to be fooling around with my roots in the middle of a recovery. So, for the first time in much of my life, I left my head alone.

What grew out, at the end of the summer, was a perfectly nice strawberry blonde bob. Who knew that had been lurking under all that box color and product all that time? Sure, my hair is still straight and still thin, but you know, I’m starting to like it. 


Kelly Davio is the Co-Publisher and Poetry Editor for Tahoma Literary Review, and former Managing Editor for The Los Angeles Review. She writes the column “The Waiting Room” for The Butter,and also regularly contributes to Women’s Review of Books. Her debut collection, Burn This House is available from Red Hen Press and from Amazon, Barnes And Noble, Powell’s, or your local book retailer. She also co-runs Gailey and Davio Writers’ Services.