Mug Shot

On Tuesday, Elder skipped class to participate in his first presidential election then met me for a quick meal at his favorite sandwich shop.

Standing in the line at the counter, I tilted my head, eyeing him. “You need a haircut, Elder,” I told him, despite my best intentions. Usually, I try to leave minor decisions to the boys, so that my voice is heard on the major ones. But seriously. With his long, wild, frizzy curls and scruffy, full beard, he looked like he had just emerged from the woods after a six-month hibernation. I did manage to add the conciliatory, “At least a trim.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, easily. “But I probably won’t have time to come back home until Thanksgiving break.”

“You can find a place in Columbia,” I suggested.

He shook his head. “Nope,” he pronounced, a simple statement of loyalty to the one who has cut his hair for the last five years or more. “Besides, at least now people can recognize me from over a block away.”

Which, I guess, means he doesn’t intend to rob a bank or participate in any other nefarious activity where recognition is a disadvantage.

So, you know, that’s a relief.




Looking Good

A few weeks ago, Elder appeared at his favorite hair salon for the first time in probably six months.

“Well, hey, Elder,” the stylist greeted him with a smile. “Did you finally decide to cut your hair?”

And as she reported to me later, taking a moment to remember his exact words, he replied, “It wasn’t up to discussion.”

Which is the blatant truth.

Usually, I do leave the boys to make their own hairstyle choices. But senior pictures prodded me into displaying a bit more parental control, although I still consider myself rather easygoing as my only stipulation for the trim was “under control.”

Because the young man has naturally curly hair, like his mother.

But he has refused any advice from his mother.

I think it’s because I’m a girl, which I am. And he thinks I might buy him girl stuff, which I wouldn’t. I would only buy him the hair gel with four-wheelers and dirt on the label. Not the mousse with pink daisies and kittens.

The other day, however, one of his friends complimented his new hairstyle and suggested that he try conditioner, so when I asked Elder if he needed anything from my weekly shopping trip, Elder actually requested the conditioner.

“Well,” I said carefully. “I always buy you the two-in-one shampoo with conditioner. Are you wanting two separate bottles?”

“Yeah, he said conditioner, so I guess, yeah, a separate bottle.”

“Okay, well, do you want the shampoo that I use? It helps with the curls.”

“Uhhh, just get whatever they have in the guys’ section. You know, whatever they got there.”

Still no pink daisies and kittens for him. I get it.

But here’s the thing. I couldn’t find any separate conditioner in the “guys’ section.” So, stumped, I wandered the aisle, muttering to myself, for fifteen minutes trying to choose the most masculine bottle of conditioner I could find.

Apparently, Elder was satisfied with the sleek, red packaging I finally left with.

Success then, I would suppose.

I have to admit I have talked to myself many times during my raising of that child in the last eighteen years. But this was the first time it happened in the hair care aisle of the local Walmart.

I may need therapy if his friend mentions hair gel.