I remember when our daughter was 12 and she discovered her hair. It had been just something that sprouted from her head, like weeds through a sidewalk crack. Then one morning she woke up almost in tears tugging at the mess as if several applications of weed killer hadn’t done its job.
“Look at this,” Sam bellowed. “Look at the hay you people gave me.”
“Hay?” I said looking up from the sports page half expecting to see a goat standing in my kitchen munching away on my daughter’s head. Someone was always bringing a strange animal into the house so nothing like that surprised me.
“Yes, hay,” she said. “You certainly can’t call this hair. Some nice genes you losers have.”
“Oh, boy,” my wife said under her breath. She glanced at me. “Here we go,” her voice loaded with concern.
“What do you mean?” I whispered.
“She’s reached that age.”
“Puberty.” Lynn said “puberty” as if it were the most dreaded, disgusting word in the English language — which it is.
“Why are you whispering?” Sam demanded. “I’m adopted, aren’t I?”
Lynn looked at me, confirming her suspicions. “See?” she sighed. “Interest in her appearance and she thinks she’s adopted. The first signs of puberty.”
I stood. “I should go,” I said. I wanted no part of any puberty talks. Girls, I understood, actually lose their minds during puberty. Boys just try to have sex with anything that’s warm.
“I know I’m adopted. I don’t mind, you know. In fact, I hope I am.”
“Sorry, my dear,” I said in my finest Boris Karloff voice. “Unfortunately, your brain is in the biological body your mother and I created in the la-bor-a-tory ourselves.” Then I smiled my creepy dad smile — the one she usually laughed at.
Not this time. “Oh yeah, well, if I’m not, why don’t you guys or anyone else in our family, for that matter, have hay hair? AND WHY ARE YOU WHISPERING?”
“You are not adopted. If you were, we would tell you. It’s no big deal,” Lynn said so calmly I thought she’d snapped until I saw a Lindt truffle wrapper balled up in her hand and a telltale smudge of chocolate at the corner of her mouth. She must have shot that thing down faster than I can a shot of Jack Daniels. Fortunately, it had the same effect. “All you need is Anthony,” she continued. “I’ll make an appointment and he’ll cure your hay hair. He’s a hair genius.”
A couple of weeks later, Sam still thought she was adopted even though the “hair genius” had coiffed her to perfection. She’d been studying genetics in school and thought she was different enough from her family that she just had to be adopted. I’m sure wishful thinking had something to do with it. It wasn’t until we showed her pictures that I had snapped of her with Lynn mere minutes after she was born that she believed us.
“So, I am your daughter. No wonder I suck at math. You two can hardly count to 10. And you do realize we’re all eventually going to become lactose intolerant — just like the grandparents. It’s in the genes,” she said. “The roadmap of our future.”
Sam ultimately became enamored with her hair. She constantly brushed and stroked it. There were even times when she would drape it over one shoulder, gaze upon it tenderly, and pet it as if it were some sort of baby marsupial. She named it. Yes, she did. She called it Edith. I’d seen her talk to it. “Edith,” she’d say, “math test today.” Or, “Don’t you think Brian is cute?” Or, “How should we wear you tomorrow?”
One day, while I was online looking for a therapist, I asked her about her strange relationship with her hair — I mean, Edith. “People talk to their plants, don’t they?” she said. “It keeps them healthy.”
And her hair certainly got healthy. Why shouldn’t it, with the special shampoos and conditioners and gels and treatments she used? Every evening hundreds of dollars worth of gunk saturated her head like over-sauced pasta. And hair hardware: straighteners, dryers, curlers and flatteners hung in her room like carpenter’s tools.
I suppose it was worth it. With all this stuff, she was able to wear virtually any hairstyle. Yes, Sam no longer had hay hair. Everyone said she had the nicest tresses in all the land. But I longed for the days when she didn’t care so much about her appearance — the days when she spent more time talking to me than Edith.
— Robert Curreli
Robert Curreli has stories and articles littering the internet including Humor Press, eFiction and Commuter Lit. You can find more of his writing here.