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Volume 15, Issue 22 ~ May 31 - June 6, 2007

Locks of Love

A haircut teaches a lesson in giving

If a woman have long hair,

it is glory to her.

–The Holy Bible

So much has been written about long flowing tresses, but nothing says it better or more concisely than those dozen words from I Corinthians. Long flowing tresses of gold are the paramount beauty.

Man belholdeth nothing of more delicate elegance. Never.

Until recently, almost daily I was reminded of this as my five-year-old granddaughter Grumpy (AKA Mackenzie Noelle Boughy) exchanged visits. She was Goldilocks, and as she ran to kick a soccer ball her long gold tresses followed floating like a jetstream.

I had seen nothing like it since Gwendolyn Sherman, a third grader who captured my heart when I was an eight-year-old lad in the one-room Cherry Valley School in New England. Since those days when I spent more time watching Gwendolyn than my lessons, streaming golden locks have captivated me, turned my head.

I had little chance with Gwendolyn. The boys in the fourth grade shared my appreciation, and to her they, being older, were more sophisticated. A better catch. She sat in a desk across the aisle but seldom looked my way; on her other side were the more worldly fourth-grade boys.

As I watched Grumpy romp, I thought of those days more than 70 years ago when Gwendolyn’s locks floated in the air as she took her turn at the swing in the girls’ side of the school yard. Not infrequently, I passed up playing with the boys on our side to stand at the invisible border between the two yards to watch her. My first true love, she could weed the carrots in our garden any time.

Other blondes would follow, a few seriously, but there was none like Gwendolyn with bright yellow locks that dropped to her hips. None until Grumpy came along.

Grumps was not unaware of my fascination with long yellow hair as her tresses grew longer, finally attaining the length of those of my childhood semi-sweetheart. The mention of a haircut turned her off, brought a pout to her face.

Pro and Con

By the time she turned five, she was becoming more aware of her appearance, though not aware of the time and effort required of Mommy (my daughter, Heather), Daddy and Grandmom (wife Lois) to brush the birds nests from her tresses in time for classes at Gibson Island Country School and Mommy’s starting time at her office.

Nor was I, but I kept out of haircut discussions though I silently rooted for Grump’s stubbornness — even when it came to cutting bangs at her forehead, Hang in there, kid, and before long you’ll be a raving, head-turning legend like Lady Godiva, with your choice of the wealthy and most handsome.

But keep off horses.

A couple of months ago, I sensed Grumpy and I were losing. There were whispers and sometimes complaints when her fine hairs were brushed and combed to float free, or perhaps be braided, depending on how much time there was before school, a party or a visit. I was told flat out to keep out of it.

And I did, though with thoughts of how much better Grumpy’s life would be without all that wasted time in beauty salons where hair wizards never seem to get the job done in the time promised — and at the cost of a car payment — plus tip.

Scheme and a Haircut

I’m not one for barbers, never have been since the days of Pippen, the barber in the village during the Great Depression. Mother worked a deal with Pippin; he was to get a rabbit for cutting my hair. I had more than a few rabbits and went along with the bargain — before I learned Pippin wanted the rabbit for dinner, not for his kids.

The appointed haircut day, with Floppsie in a box I set out for the barber shop in the village two and a half miles away. First, I stopped at playmate Bill Stone’s house, and we hatched our plan. His uncle Elmer would cut my hair if I weeded his beets for an hour. Then I could sneak Floppsie back home. Mother would never know; she didn’t check my menagerie of bantam roosters, bunnies, a billy goat and whatever I’d come across in the hen house far in the backyard.

Elmer was a mill worker, not a barber. He had no clippers, just a pair of scissors. When I returned home, the cat soon came out of the bag, but Floppsie was still with me. Subsequent trips to Pippin meant nearly being scalped to allow for more weeks between 20-cent haircuts: Mother never again bartered, tight as money might be.

Her Locks for Love

The day came when Grumps visited Image Creations in Severna Park and returned with hair no longer below her shoulders. I was crushed, but she wasn’t. Though still practically a babe in arms in my view, she was learning the spirit of giving. She told me her locks were to be worn by some sick child thanks to Locks of Love, an organization that gathers hair for children suffering from medical hair loss ([email protected]).

Her shorn locks with the hair of five others will make a wig for a sick child somewhere — and Grumpy is sharing in the joy of giving.

To me she is more beautiful than ever, even more beautiful than Gwendolyn of so many years ago. Enough said.

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