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Liza Ewen's Autobiography (submitted 5/17/06)
Dorothy Hamill ruined my life. When I was eight years old, my mother took me to the hairdresser, armed with a photograph of America's then-figure-skating-sweetheart. At the salon, women in shower caps who sat under dryers, licking their fingertips before turning the pages of their magazines, said nothing, but gave my mother knowing looks and nodded when they saw my long blonde mane.
"This will be so much easier, won't it," the stylist said to my mother, as she pulled a brush through my hair, which had been long enough to put into pigtails for fun, and into my mouth for comfort. It must have been easy, because within minutes, my head was weightless, its better part lying listless on the floor.
The famous page-boy cut left me without a single strand of hair long enough to reach my tongue, or fall over my eyes so that I might hide from the permed ladies who fawned over my newly-shorn head.
My hair was gone, as would be the scent of Johnson & Johnson shampoo that lingered in it. Instantly too short for braids or barettes, within a year, it was no longer blonde or straight, and by my 11th birthday, it had mutated into a mop of untamable brown waves just in time for junior high. My mother, who I loved best, remained above reproach. It must have been Dorothy Hamill's fault.
Since then, I've never had hair that touched my shoulders again. But sometimes, on a bad hair day, I remember myself with the hair every girl is supposed to have, and supposed to want, the kind of hair my own mother, denying her complicity, would call "classic," the hair that was cut without consultation, swept up in a dust pan with somebody else's split ends.