I’ve been wanting to tell this story for a while now but with the holidays and all that jazz, it just never made it down. I did scribble it in my personal writing pad, which gets written in daily. But here it is:
I have a few friends who recently started producing a show called The Drunken Telegraph. It’s a live storytelling installment and I’d missed the first two or so. Finally I went a few weeks back to sit and listen to some live stories. I even signed up for the story slam at the end. I’m glad that I didn’t know it was a type of contest or I don’t think I would have signed up. I didn’t want the pressure to perform, or maybe outperform, I just wanted to have fun.
Well, I had a blast. So much of how I use to teach was through story telling and I honestly think that’s why a lot of my students really enjoyed the weeks that I was with them during my years of itinerant guest speaking. I got my points across by just telling a lot of stories. I was going to tell a story about our team getting robbed and stranded in China but during the break people who I hadn’t seen in months kept commenting on my hair and I had quite a story to tell about being a female with VERY short hair. Through their prodding I decided to tell the hair story. It was something like this:
In our culture there is a huge connection with femininity and long hair. I’d had short hair just after I got pregnant with my first-born and during that time I was living in a very populated college town. I noticed the difference in how the young men looked, or rather didn’t look at me, after I cut my hair. I went from being cute with flowing locks, to being someone they would look away from if I was coming down the street. It was almost like they looked away because they were embarrassed for me (insert crowd laughter).
Then it grew and was once again, long and lovely. I had two more kids and recently cut it all off again. I was tired of dying out the grey so short hair made so much sense. Plus, I like how cute and sassy it looks. But over the years, as I’m aging…getting more wrinkles and more body fat I notice that there are days where having short hair is a bit inconvenient as I’d like to have something long and feminine to fall back on during the days when I don’t feel so young and cute.
A few weeks back I was having an off day and I kept catching glimpses of myself in storefronts while I was on a walk. I thought my eyes looked puffy and tired, my puffy winter coat kept me from having a girly figure and then there was my short hair. I wished I’d had dark lipstick on so I could at least feel like I looked girly, but no such luck. My hair made me feel sort of boyish along with looking old and tired.
I didn’t give all of this as much thought as I’m writing. Catching glimpses here and there only took a few seconds of thought but it lingered. At the end of my walk I saw a man around my age riding a bike towards me so I did the friendly thing and I smiled and said hi. He nods, passes me then says, “Excuse me!” I turned around. “You are SO beautiful!!!” I, of course, giggle and downplay it like what he said was cute and that this happens to me all the time. I may have even put my hands in the shape of fake guns and fired them at him, “Oh…you!!! Thanks….haha”. Then he says, “NO! I’m serious! You’re so beautiful!” and rides off.
This is how I ended my live story: “No matter that he was a man in his mid-thirties riding a kid’s BMX bike. No matter that he was missing a few teeth and seemed as though he had a slight drug problem. After his comment I still walked away thinking, ‘Damn! I still got it!!!’ “.
That was my story. At the end I even won the slam. I had so much dang fun. I haven’t told a story to an audience in months. I haven’t taught in years. I love the power of story. It has a way of making you laugh or cry or ponder. You make connection points with people into your own life, “Oh! They GET me!” Or we see their own vulnerability in a story. This is a huge part of why I love to read and write. I love a good story and a well told story. Hopefully I captured both that night. In the end, it was just a whole lotta fun. Thanks, Tacoma. Stay classy!