Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall,
Who’s the fairest of them all?”

“Well, it ain’t you, sister!
You look like a broken blister. Who told you long hair was flattering It only makes you old and shattering.”

I had been trying to grow my hair longer for a new hairstyle. I thought it was time for a change. I was going for longer and fluffier. I got longer. Fluffy was in my imagination.

I have thick hair. Instead of turning white like my Daddy’s did in his 30’s, mine is more like my mother’s family. Mama had dark brown hair and it lightened to look more blond than white. That’s what is happening with mine. I look more like a two-tone possum than a white-faced ferret.

Maybe it was turning 80, well, really, I turned 70. I look good for 80 and not so hot for 70. Anyway, I had that birthday, and I thought maybe I needed a change. A new hairdo might do the trick. Actually, losing 60 pounds would do it, but let’s be realistic. I can grow hair with no effort. Dieting and exercising takes planning and dedication.

The other day, I saw a picture of myself in the local Spirit magazine. The article was about my book. I wish only the picture of the book had been put in there because the picture made me have heart palpitations. Think an egg-shaped body with hair—a lot of hair. Hair that had been blown around, sweated down and attempted to revive.

The worst part is I have a speaking engagement next week. I looked like the Tasmanian Devil had styled my hair and stuck it on a tennis ball. Y’all, it scared me and I live under that tangle.

My hairdresser is also a dear friend. I called and left messages about when I could get an appointment for a haircut. Sheila mistakenly thought that she was allowed to have a life outside of business hours. Oh no, honey. I am having heart palpitations. I have to appear in public. A sheepdog looks better groomed than I do.

She calmly looks at her calendar and offers me an appointment that is after my speaking engagement. As I was hyper-ventilating she said, “I can come early on Thursday. Can you come then?”

Can I come then? “I will open the shop and start the coffee for you. What do you want for breakfast? Just name it. You got it.”

I was twenty minutes early. I was considering wearing a paper bag over my head. I went from a longer, manage-able growing out style to something that could not be controlled. I couldn’t see out because my hair was in my eyes. I use industrial strength liquid concrete for hair spray. I had pulled my hair back, slicked it down, clipped it in place and sprayed a half can of the strongest spray ever in-vented. Let it dry. Flopped right back into my eyes.

I grew up with my Daddy putting my long hair in a ponytail every morning. I swear the only reason I have an arch in my eyebrows is because he pulled the tail so tightly. I can’t stand my hair in my eyes as a consequence.

I almost hugged Sheila when she came out of the backroom. I showed her my picture from a couple of years ago and begged, “Can you do anything to get this mess under control and out of my face?” I was ready to resort to head-shaving or the Pebbles Flintstone top knot.

Thirty minutes later, four pounds of hair was laying on the floor. I could see without a curtain and oh yeah, ears. I had ears again.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall,
Who’s the fairest of them all?

You are looking better,
No more can you wear a Varsity Letter Sweater
You look less scary
And a lot less hairy
You cut off your hair from long it had been
Don’t try to look young again.
Slow your place.
Age with grace.

Marlene is available for speaking engagements. You can contact her through MsRatWrites@gmail.com for more information. Her book Life is Hard. Soften It with Laughter is available on Amazon & www.turnippressbookshop.com