Why was hair so important?
My mother was truly a sweetheart, except for the fact that she hated my hair when I had it long. This was in 1962–’63, before long hair was all the rage in North America. Folksinger Joan Baez was my idol; what can I tell you.
Okay, I admit that my hair didn’t look as gorgeous as Joan’s. Mine was desert-dry, and curly/frizzy/untamed – way before that “style” was acceptable. But I liked it anyway!
One day, frustrated, my mom slipped a note under my bedroom door. It said, “Cut your hair or move out!” I guess she and my father saw my non-conforming look as a symbol of my pulling away from them and becoming more independent. But I was ‘just’ 17…
…And as they probably knew, I was in no way ready to move out. Although I had just started my first full-time job, my salary was so low it could never have supported me. Also, I was quite emotionally immature… still prone to loud arguments with my stubborn father, slamming my bedroom door shut with alarming frequency (once even prompting my full-length mirror on the back of it to crash to the floor)(seven years’ bad luck? not really)!
CUT TO: 1964. Now I was 19. And now I did feel ready to move out. Why, I even learned to like coffee, on breaks at work! I began poring over “Apartments for Rent” ads in our daily newspaper, the Montreal Star.
Oopsie! My mother caught me in the act. “What are you doing?” she asked, warily.
“Looking at apartment ads! Look, I can afford this one! I’ve worked out a budget…”
“Oh. Just wait. We’ll see what your father has to say about that!”
Yikes. She sicced the bad guy on me. That night after supper, we sat in the living room, my father opposite me. “You are not moving out,” he spat.
“But I can afford to. I want to,” I said, in what I thought was a firm voice, but what was probably full of trepidation.
His voice rose to a whole new level. (If it was in writing it would’ve been in bold.) “As long as you’re not married you’re living under my roof!”
Now I got it! The message was clear, if unspoken: my lord and protector, i.e. my father, did not want me living elsewhere in a “den of iniquity” of sorts, free to frolic with my boyfriend of two years.
Now this was supremely ironic. He did not know, nor could I tell him, that we’d already frolicked in many other locales, including my own bedroom (when papa was not around), thank you very much.
Sigh. I was stuck – I did not possess the level of maturity and determination needed by a young person to cut the strings and leave. And it would’ve been quite frowned upon back then, at least in my parents’ rather conservative minds and milieu.
So I stayed.
I cut my hair.
I had it dyed blonde and straightened, with added bangs…
It wasn’t too bad, actually. 😄
P.S. I moved out when I got married two years later. Moral of the story? Be patient. 😁