Tough Times in Little League by Shornlocks
It was definitely the low-point of Brenda Mitchell’s Little League career. The 13-year-old right fielder, who just two years ago had broken the Springfield’s Little League’s gender barrier by becoming the first girl good enough to make a team, had blown an easy pop fly that would have ended their playoff opponents’ eighth inning rally. Instead, as she ran toward the ball that looked like it might drop into the gap between first base and right field, her long brown hair came loose from its normally tight bun and began swinging back and forth before her eyes. Try as she did to concentrate on the pop fly, her thick mane proved too much of an obstacle as she over-ran the descending ball and allowed two pivotal runs to score.
Things were not as bad as they first seemed, however. Brenda’s team ended up rallying for six runs in the ninth, and took home a hard-fought victory that would land them in the regional finals. Brenda quietly sulked afterward in a separate room of the clubhouse, choosing not to be part of the jubilation of coaches and players next door. She was ashamed that, despite all her efforts over the past two years to be just “one of the guys,” her femininity (and, in particular, her hair) had nearly cost her team the game. Brenda stared out a window, watching intently for her dad’s car to pull up in the clubhouse driveway. She wanted nothing more than to run out the back door of the clubhouse into the waiting arms of her father, and to put as much distance as possible between herself and the team.
Four hours later, Brenda was home alone lounging on the couch. Her parents had tried for more than an hour to cheer her up before, reluctantly, leaving to go to a retirement party for one of her dad’s co-workers. Her mother had left her the phone number where the party was being held, with specific instructions to call if she wanted to talk about the events of earlier today. As much as she knew her mother meant well, Brenda just wanted to be left alone right now. She was thankful her annoying little brother Mark was sleeping over at a friend’s house, for it meant that Brenda would have the house to herself for several hours.
Brenda lay motionless on the couch through an hour of mindless sitcoms,her long dark hair, still a little damp from her shower, splayed out over the armrest of the couch. The two huge glasses of iced tea Brenda had consumed during the past hour started to take their toll, and at the next commercial Brenda made her way to the upstairs bathroom. After relieving herself, Brenda stood washing her hands before the large triple-angle mirror that hung over the sink. She stared at her reflection just as she had done a thousand times before, only today something was different.
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Today Brenda looked upon her long, thick mane with something other than the pride she normally did. Normally she loved how the bathroom lighting highlighted the dark chestnut hue of her hair, loved how the triple-angle mirror practically enveloped her, filling her field of vision with the large pools of hair that gathered on her shoulders and above her budding breasts. This, coupled with the thick, shiny bangs that gently brushed her eyebrows made Brenda look much like Valerie Bertinelli, the 70s child actress who starred in the TV show One Day At a Time. Brenda could remember times when she would stand before this very mirror for what seemed like hours, swishing her head back and forth and loving the soft, gentle feel of her hair crashing against her cheeks.
What she felt today, however, was something entirely different. Today she stared at her hair with nothing but bitterness and contempt. This long, layered hair of hers now looked childish, old fashioned, and very different from how all the other girls in school wore their hair. She sighed heavily, exhaling upward through her mouth so that her breath caused a slight stir among her bangs; bangs that were entirely too thick and heavy. Brenda berated herself for not having seen this sooner. How could anyone take her seriously as an athlete with ten pounds of hair piled atop her head? No wonder the boys on her Little League team had smirked and chuckled so much when she tried out. She looked, and now felt, much more like one of those girls you see on 70s reruns of American Bandstand than the sleek, gifted athlete she really was.
All of a sudden an idea came to Brenda, one that simultaneously made her sick to her stomach with nervousness, yet at the same time filled her with excitement far beyond what she could ever remember experiencing. She hurried out of the upstairs bathroom, not bothering to turn out the lights behind her, and quickly made her way downstairs to the attached garage. Fumbling amongst the tools on her father’s workbench, Brenda’s eyes came to rest on what she had come here for; the huge pair of scissors that her father used to cut through rope and other thick material. She slowly lifted them off the workbench, loving their thick steel heaviness. She remembered that her father had inadvertantly left them on the front lawn recently after using them to trim some of the smaller shrubs that surrounded the family’s house. She noticed a slight rust buildup where the blades of the shears came together, but she didn’t care. What these scissors were about to cut through had been pampered long enough.
Brenda ran back into the house from the garage, her body shivering with excitement. She took the steps to the upstairs two at a time, careful to keep the long, wicked looking shears by her side lest she trip and fall on them. Once in the upstairs bathroom, she closed the door behind her and made sure it was locked. Her parents weren’t due home for at least a couple hours, but Brenda didn’t want to take any chances. She and her long hair had a date tonight, and she didn’t want anyone crashing it.
Still shaking with nervous energy, Brenda dragged before the mirror the little chair that normally sat unused in the corner of the bathroom. Seating herself on it for the first time in years, she was pleased to see that she had grown enough that, even seated, she was tall enough that the triple-angle mirror captured her entire upper body and, more importantly, the full luxurious length of this hair of hers that was soon to have a big surprise.
Grasping the big, heavy shears in her right hand, Brenda tilted the right side of her head downward, letting her long thick hair swing freely down to her waist and beyond. Using her left hand to grasp the huge section of hair that hung between her right temple and right ear, Brenda placed the shears level behind the ear so that the tips of the blades faced forward toward the mirror. Squintly slightly, Brenda began hacking away at the right side of her mane. Almost immediately, impossibly long lengths of dark hair began to fall backward over her clenched left fist. Her heart beat even faster as she heard the large but somewhat dull scissor blades mash their way through her hair. She found she had to squeeze with all her might to get the blades to chew through the thickest parts of her hair, but she loved watching the soft, springy action the cut hair made as it fell away from her head, the severed ends splaying themselves out around her fist.
After what felt like a dozen squeezes of the scissors, Brenda had completely shorn away the right side of her mane. Blood pulsed through her whole body as she brought the contents of her closed fist before her eyes for inspection. Scrunched between her fingers were over 18 inches of her velvety soft hair. She expected to feel remorse at this point; expected to feel sorry that an impulsive decision to cut this mop of hers completely off would suddenly give way to more tender feelings for the hair that she had grown and pampered for so long. But it was not to be. Instead she looked at the long, swaying locks with disgust, happy to finally be rid of them, and eager to get on with the task at hand. She dumped the contents of her fist into the sink before her, and tightened her grip on the shears.
With her eyes cast downward, chin on her chest, Brenda reached her left hand up and over her head. Feeling around behind her right ear for where she had begun her first cut, she grabbed a thick clump of hair extending around toward the back of her head, and enveloped the clump within the scissor blades. Careful to keep her fingers free of the closing blades, Brenda resumed the chopping off of her hair. Her first thought upon squeezing the scissors was that she had gathered too much hair in her fist. Her strenuous effort seemed to bring the blades together by only a fraction of an inch, so she began to move the scissors around in a circular motion, attacking the clump from different angles. She could tell by the crunching sound of the scissors, and by the gradual relieving of the tugging sensation on her scalp, that this method was succeeding in severing more of her suffocating mane.
Seven… eight… nine squeezes of the scissors and the clump was history. Barely pausing to catch her breath, Brenda flung the severed length of hair over her head and against the mirror (eventally coming to rest in a cocoon around the faucet handles), and began hacking away at a new, albeit smaller, section of hair on the back of her head.
She continued in this manner until, glancing in the three-angle mirror, she could see that all the hair on the back of her head was now reduced to a kind of mushroom shape that ended high up on her scalp. Tilting her head down and to the left now, Brenda began stabbing the scissors into the thick dangling locks that hung from the left side of her scalp. Giving her left hand a rest, she was content to let the long lengths of hair slither down her arm and onto the floor. She continued snipping away, excited by how quickly the white tiled floor was becoming littered with thick piles of her long brown hair.
When the last of her hair had hit the floor, Brenda placed the scissors back on the sink top and surveyed her handiwork. The cut looked awful, of course; choppy, and very uneven. But Brenda wasn’t done. Her thick bangs lay untouched, still obscuring her forehead. “Those still need to go,” she thought. So did virtually all the hair on her crown which, in the absence of her long heavy mane, now looked particularly spikey and out of place.
Picking up the scissors again and keeping them level, Brenda placed them high on her forehead. Cutting slowly, she happily watched her curtain of bangs fall away, tickling her nose and cheeks as they decended down onto her chest. When the last of her bangs had dropped out of sight, Brenda began jabbing the scissors at the still long hair that lay on her crown. She snipped first an inch, then another, then another, trying to guage how much of it she should leave there. She discovered that, the more she clipped off, the “spikier” the remaining hair looked. She didn’t care for the spiky look at all, and decided that, having come this far, there was really only one thing to do.
Reaching down to the little cabinet below the sink, Brenda pulled out the pair of electric hair clippers that her father used to trim his beard and, occasionally, to try his hand at haircuts on her little brother Mark. Hair snippets rained down from her shoulders as she leaned over even further to plug the clipper cord into the outlet. Brenda noticed that the guard on the clippers said “#1 (1/8 inch).” That sounded about right to her.
Resting her forehead on the edge of the sink, with her nose grazing the now huge mound of hair sticking out from above the edge of the sink, Brenda began blindly running the clippers all over her head. She ran them upward, downward, front to back, back to front, and any other way she thought may be helpful in ensuring that this once glorious mane of hers would now be reduced to a fine, even stubble. She sat there for what seemed like hours, no doubt running the clippers over her head for far longer than she needed to, but loving every moment of their warm vibration on her nearly naked scalp.
Finally she decided enough was enough. Her parents would be home soon, and she’d need to clean up this mess. She arose from her chair, leg muscles feeling a little stiff, and surveyed the scene. A fine coating of snippets covered the floor surrounding the chair, but the only large clumps on the floor were from where she had cut the left side of her mane and let the bulk of it fall directly onto the floor. Reaching down, she used both hands to gather up the large piles of hair, then added them to what had been the main dumping area in the sink. She then fished out from the little supply of grocery bags beneath the sink a plastic, two-handled Walmart bag, and began stuffing her hair into it. “It will make a nice peace offering to the team,” she thought, “for nearly screwing up the game.”