The Straight Way

The other day, I waited in the school parking lot for Younger to emerge from the building. When he finally crossed the driveway to clamber into the truck, he said, “Hey, Mom, you ever seen Elder with straight hair?”

And then, before I could answer, through my open window drifted a familiar voice calling, “Mah-mah” — Elder’s version of “mom” after four years of French.

I glanced around to find Elder striding towards me, his hair as straight as a board across his forehead. Immediately alarmed, I demanded, “What did you do?”

“I straightened my hair,” he announced with a grin.

“What did you do?”

“Well, see, I had that presentation today as the scientist, and I had my suit and the bowtie and all, but some of the kids said the guy had straight hair.”

What did you do?”

“So, I let them straighten my hair.”

“What did –” I took a deep breath. “With what?”

“I don’t know. Some straightener thingie.”

“No chemicals?”

His eyebrows pulled together. “Hairspray.”

“Hairspray isn’t a — Wait a minute. You let these girls spray hairspray on your hair and you won’t let me buy you gel?”

“I objected. They did it anyway.”

“Is that the secret?”

But apparently I’m not one of those girls that will get away with doing it anyway.

“Smell.” He shoved his blonde head beneath my nose. “It’s the purple hairspray.”

His curls returned after his shower that night. I scrunched the strands just to be extra sure.

He objected.

But I did it anyway.

I guess I am one of those girls after all.

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