birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Hazards and Heaven of Hair

My hair! Oh, my crazy hair!

It is gray now, and thin on top where it used to be the thickest. It still has, always has had, cowlicks everywhere. Two cowlicks at my forehead literally “lick” my brow on either side, in opposite directions.

But once upon a time it was shiny honey brown and wavy and thick, and soft to the touch. Every man who ever touched it has marveled at the touch of it. I understood, because of them, why men like long hair. They like touching it, winding their fingers in it, tugging it gently—and not so much—in the heat of passion. I loved touching it too.

When I was a child, I had a ciliary tic: when I was thinking hard I'd twirl a forelock with my right index finger. I think it did help me focus somehow, but my mother hated the habit and worked diligently to break me of it. She failed; I still do it, 60 years later.

She worried my hair all the time. It wasn’t curly enough for her. It wasn’t thick enough. It was too long or too short. It bent after being pin-curled, instead of spiraling. She made me hate my hair, and working with it. It wasn’t until men started liking it, that I found another way of looking at it—nice to touch, with a pretty shine, something to hold onto in love.

A Cup

Falling, Falling, Falling