About a month before the initial lockdown response, I got my hair cut. I wanted something cute and sassy. I typically cut and color my own hair, I’ve done it for years, but this time I wanted a professional to do it. I walked into a local beauty shop and the hairdresser just happened to have another customer cancel, so she worked me in. It took hours. For most of the time, I had to pee. We made small talk. She had weird ideas about healthcare, like the array of essential oils that she featured at her desk, but I didn’t judge (much). Upon picking up my kids from school that afternoon, my daughter promptly turned to me and said, “You look like someone that would ask to speak to the manager.”
Fast forward one month, my cut needed to be freshened up, and then lockdown happened. What was a girl to do? Well, this girl reverted back to her old ways and started cutting and coloring her hair again. At first, I mimicked the work of the hairdresser. I kept close to her pattern and was able to maintain the original design. Over time, my cut morphed into its current shape which is “spikey middle aged lady.” For some reason, I have found myself donning this haircut during other times in my life.
The first time I had spiked hair was in college. And yes, I did it myself. It was the 90’s and I could color the short do in all kinds of funky colors. If I damaged the hair, wait a month and I could cut it again. The only by product was that I confused the frat boy types in my class. I recall sitting in front of a pair of jocks, who I overheard discussing my sexual orientation. “I think she’s gay.” I just shrugged. I really didn’t care what they thought. I had a boyfriend and they weren’t my type, anyway.
Later in residency, my hair morphed again into spike mode. I had absolutely no time to go get my hair cut, so I started cutting it myself again. It was short, fun, and I was in the mood for sassy.
As patients see my hair after we have all been in lockdown, I get the strangest responses:
- Patient: You got your haircut
- Me: Yes I did
- Patient: Staring at me
- Me: Staring at them
- Me: OK. Well, let’s talk about your labs
- Me: walks into the room
- Patient: bursts into gales of laughter
- Patient: Did you stick your finder in a light socket?
- Me: laughing just to be polite, but really how many times can I hear this same joke?
- Me: talking about their labs, their overall health, etc
- Patient: not looking at my eyes, but staring at my hair with a look of confusion
- Patient: (looking at my hair and out of nowhere says….) It’s like you are a porcupine. Like you are trying to say, “I want the fuck out of here. Leave me the fuck alone. Don’t fuck with me.”
That was my favorite response. I actually think she was able to put into words why my hair looks like this. Especially when I think back at the other moments in my life where this haircut found its way in. For now, I will embrace the anarchy and anger of my haircut. When I look in the mirror, I think my haircut actually looks like the COVID virus itself with all those spike protein sticking out. That’s how it gets into our cells. That’s how it starts the process of killing us. I think I subconsciously made my hair look like COVID as a way to take control of a time in my life that feels very out of control.
Basically, like my patient pointed out, my hair is saying, “fuck you, COVID.”