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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

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Lindsay, put down the scissors.
Lindsay, put down the scissors.

Someone please take the scissors out of my snip-happy hands

In my eternal battle of "Bangs or Botox," bangs won yet again after months of growing out my fringe through every stage of awkwardness. I seem to be in this eternal pattern of grow out / cut / push to the side / repeat. And more than rarely and quite dangerously, I am the one wielding the blade for these front-view revisions. 

The latest chop happened was while I was traveling. My bangs had finally gotten to the point where I could tuck them behind my ear – kind of the Holy Grail of patiently maturing a fringe. All it took was one "bad hair day" combined with a shadow cast across a rivet in my forehead and I started snipping.

I am sure you are wondering where I sourced scissors appropriate for trimming human strands while I was traveling, as hotel rooms are not typically equipped with barbering shears. I have that covered. I always travel with professional hair cutting tools and styling razor. Always. Because I never know when the urge to clip is going to hit me.

I am therefore a professional stylist’s nightmare due to this self-snipping tendency. My future stylists be warned; eventually I will altar any haircut I receive on my very own.

This behavior started very early. And my family took note of this. My paternal grandmother to this day will not allow me to have scissors. She took them away from me as a punishment when I was about 5 years old, after I transformed the loft in her condo into a hair salon. My first client was my little brother, who was just three years old at the time.

I played out the entire salon scenario, setting the scene for a true hair design experience. I greeted my brother with a big welcome as I had him crawl up the stairs to enter my den of beauty. I took his tiny hand and walked him around while I indicated the imaginary shampoo bowl and retail products. 

The overhead ceiling lights were off and the space was only dimly lit by the late-afternoon gray haze pouring in the windows from the cloudy, Wisconsin fall day. There was a strobe-like illumination of the space from the black and white TV that was turned on, flashing its varying luminosity with the volume quietly providing white noise. The television was a piece of furniture back then, taking up an excess of space in front of the loft railing. I could smell my Bubbe’s slow-cooking turkey broasting in the oven downstairs. 

I had dragged a plaid armchair right in front of the monstrous television. It was well worn from years of lounging, with threads roguely sticking out all over like a gelled and spiked buzz-cut. It was perfect for my purposes as a "real haircutting chair" since it bobbed back and forth, which was close enough to being able to pump it up and down. The chair, with its unraveling beige and brown fabric, faced the balcony of the loft, overlooking the living room of my grandparents condo. I could hear my Bubbe tinkering in the kitchen and my Papa watching a Packer game on the TV in the second floor guest room while I plotted hair design above them.

I had my brother climb into the chair and draped a sheet over his small body, just like I saw his barber, Tony Lococo, do to him at his very first haircut, which was in and of itself a traumatic experience. I secured it with a pink hot roller clip I had snuck out of my Bubbe’s bathroom cabinet. I tousled his soft hair with my fingers, still coated with sugar from the gummy fruit slices my grandparents liked to satiate us with. His strands gave off the aroma of Johnson & Johnson No More Tears baby shampoo while I chatted away about this and that, just like "real" hairstylists did. 

I then walked him over the couch for a pre-haircut "shampoo." I tilted him back and pantomimed lathering his head with expensive shampoo and even asked, "How is the temperature of the water for you?"

To this point, my brother belly-laughed through the charade, as he did with all of my role-playing. He gurgled sweet toddler speech in response to my dialog, not possibly knowing what was in store next. 

I ushered him back to the armchair and settled him in. We gazed into the phantom mirror we envisioned before us and discussed the look I would be executing. I then pulled out the glittering diamond of my charade: a gigantic pair of pinking sheers, the old school kind with blades heavy with real metal, black paint chipping from many fingers use of the handles. 

I had stolen this off-limits item from the stationary drawer in my grandparents’ kitchen. I had been told these particular scissors were forbidden, too heavy for my small grip, too sharp for my young age and too dangerous for my precious fingers. As a result, these scissors had always fascinated me. They called to me like a siren, begging me to slice into all sorts of textures and materials.

I grabbed a bundle of hair right at the front of my brother’s sweet head. My eager fist sweated in anticipation of the "swoosh" of the opening and closing of the blades. I extended the wad of hair upwards and chopped it off at a blunt non-angle. He cried out with shock as he realized we were no longer playing and the "let’s play barbershop" experience suddenly became very real. 

His weeping summoned my Bubbe, who took one look at my hysterical brother and one glance at my stunned face (as I too could not believe I had actually CUT his hair) and lividly shouted at me. She was breathless from bounding up the stairs and probably terrified of what my parents’ reaction to what she had let occur under her watch would be because boy, did she yell at me! She boomed, "You can never have scissors again!"

The phrase echoed in my head, it made me dizzy from the volume and the ramification. From that day forward, all scissors were under lock and key.

To this day, I have not picked up a scissors in her presence.

I still cannot cut a straight line on paper, so to think that I could wield the shears on human hair was probably a bit presumptuous and remains as such.

The "forbidden fruit" of cutting hair embedded in my psyche is what still gives me a thrill. As I gaze in the mirror, twirling sections of my hair and cut away, mimicking the techniques of my well-trained stylists, I get a little surge of delight. Every time.

There is power in the fact that I own several pairs of my own blades, all purposed for different tasks. My hair shears of course, being my prized possession.

The desire to camouflage the lines that have made themselves at home on my forehead over the years is merely and excuse for me to get my chop on. It’s either the needle or the blades for me, and I’m running with the scissors.

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