Cut off

commuting chronicles, states


I know this is a totally inappropriate question, and no one will want to answer, but see if you can relate: Have you ever been at a bar for many hours, not realize how intoxicated you were, and had the bar tender tell you, “your cut off”? Or maybe as a child you ate to much candy and your mom and dad took it away saying “your cut off”. If you know this experience, that is how I feel about having hair.

When it is time to make a major change in my life- I often need something physical to kick start and sustain whatever ideal I am attempting to incorporate. Most recently that act of change was cutting off all my hair. I just couldn’t handle it anymore- I needed to be cut off.

Believe me, I know how crazy this sounds. And I am told daily by someone in my immediate vicinity.  I am not so self consumed that I can’t put myself in the position of family, co-workers or friends, dudes I have been dating, and strangers when they ask “why?”. Most family is supportive, though, they might not understand. Those relationships largely take place over the phone so I really can’t know exactly how they feel until I see them in person. Co-workers are intrigued. Recently, one of my peers at work from a mid-western state had to take photos of me to send home because he was afraid words wouldn’t accurately due the ‘do justice. Friends have been understanding. Jenny, my paddle boarding mate, did the shaving for me. One morning a few weeks ago we were supposed to go on a float. Something she had said the night before at dinner about cutting off my hair stuck. I’d already been thinking about it, ever since Australia and secretly considering it since the last time I’d cut it off in college. Jenny had shaved her head several times in the past and understood my reasons. By morning I new what I had to do. I called her up, asked her if she would do me the favor and one hour later it was by-by hair.

Sometimes perfect strangers at work or just yesterday at a thrift store in Mammoth randoms will take the liberty of commenting on the shortness of my hair… This is always the most awkward. It reminds me that if this small number of people are making comments on my hair, what are the rest of population thinking and not commenting? Often I am pretty sure people think I am a lesbian. Allison, my current road trip companion and long time best friend from college, thinks its hysterical when people mistake “us” or “me” for lesbians biased on my hair cut because of our are track record as man-eaters (Disclaimer: slight exaggeration).

As for the dudes… I haven’t seen several of the men I go out on occasional dates with since the hair transformation. I honestly look forward to seeing their reactions. The guys I have known for a long time and seen post cut (friendship or romantic- let’s be honest, what is the difference when you are single?) have the most telling responses. Some love it and don’t skip a beat. Others almost cry bereaving the long thick curls. Rejection is never a preferred out come, but whatever the experience is I try to stand outside myself and find the humor. Besides, feeling rejection is only one perspective. I prefer to imagine my not having hair as a round of “cuts”, like my dating life is a reality dating show (it kind of is, it just isn’t filmed, but it is my reality) and at the end of each episode someone is voted off the island. Or, like Krystal Collins High School is having tryouts for my basketball team and if chicks having shaved heads is no big deal for you (amongst other traits), then you have a shot at varsity, then maybe team captain, and if your really lucky, all-state. Newer dudes that I have only met post hair cut don’t have a frame of reference for what I used to look like. It has been easier filtering through their responses. Note: I have better acceptance stats when I meet them at coffee shops than at bars… interesting.

After all, it was hard to justify the inordinate amount of time required to make my manic mane presentable. Ultimately, this was the decider. I didn’t like having the option of spending time blow drying, primping, straightening, and then the inevitable tag along vanities: make-up, clothes, ect. At heart, I am a pretty extreme minimalist and utilitarian but the temptation to fiddle with my hair always got the better of me. Like when I wasn’t feeling good about myself. I could always choose to present myself really well, fix my hair up, put on make-up and clothes. A sort of way to sweep how I was really feeling under the rug. Now that I don’t have this option, I feel more ready to deal with my feelings as they come and have a more honest presentation of myself to the world- less options for cove. Like Popeye said, “I am what I am”.

Being a bicycle commuter only adds elements of practicality to my no-hair campaign. Not having hair has been such a gift in this aspect of my life. Set aside the hassle of trying to find a haircut that looks presentable at work after your commute to work, I save so much time in my getting-ready-for-the-day routine. I am an aspiring writer and photographer and have now banked at least an hour to my editing time as a result of the cut.

On the road trip I’v just been on with Allison, having ready access to showers is expensive (for a dirt bag) and usually not possible when dispersed camping on public lands (the whole point of dispersed camping is that there is no public lands service commitment to maintain sites, toilets, or showers, that is why it is free). When Allison had to pay a woping $7 dollars in Devils Post Pile National Monument for a shower last night, I just jumped in a glacial lake with some bio-degradable soap and 60 seconds later was good to go. Also, I am not above taking an “Italian shower” (Doug Collins original phrase), which consists of washing ones unmentionables and ones dirty garments (Kenny and Tommy would say, “Last chance undies”) in a bathroom sink, a single lockable restroom is always preferable in these instances. Obviously these choices aren’t completely dictated by the amount of hair you have and how difficult it is to maintain, it would be possible to bath in a lake if you had a full hear of hair. The point is that presentation maintenance feels so much easier with the new cut. It is difficult to imagine going back to managing greasy hair after all this ease on the road.

I must confess, with this seemingly endless list of positives for the cut, there are still life events I must attend where having a shaved head isn’t preferable. Case and point: my cousins up coming wedding. Cindy Machintosh is one of my most cherished family members and though I look forward to her wedding for many reasons (seeing family, the cabaret show in San Francisco, ect.) I am also very self-conscious about defying convention so publicly in a very conventional setting. I am still debating how casually I can dress with out being disrespectful. Luckily, I think I will be able to hide behind my camera for most of the event…

3 thoughts on “Cut off

  1. I’ve done the same. I cut my hair a few weeks ago. I just wondered who it would look. And I just wanted to start over again. I don’t know what a haircut has to do with starting over, but it felt good. All fresh and new. So I understand what you’re saying. Loved your story 🙂


  2. Krystal, it’s far more important to follow your own counsel than to heed the dictates of “cultural norms.” If all people see is your haircut, then they don’t know *you*, only what they imagine you to be based on how you look. Alana’s stepmom shaved her head at one point, and got pretty much the same reactions you are getting.

    When I was much younger, my hair was down to the middle of my back. That got the occasional negative reaction from one set of people. When I finally cut it all off (not shaved, but short), that too garnered a negative reaction—from a different set of people. Ya can’t please all the people all the time. Rock on.


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