The Age of Bighair-ius

I don’t know what’s going on in the universe, but an awful lot of my friends are posting horrific high school era pictures on Facebook these days. And tagging me in them.

Make it stop.

First there was the picture from 8th grade graduation. I was old for my age, and we didn’t do the cap and gown thing at my school, so I was wearing a pastel, floral dress with a gathered waist and pouffy short sleeves. It was tea-length. I had a perm (which was required of me from 2nd grade – yes, 2nd grade, thanks Mom – until I was in college). In addition to the perm, there were the curled and feathered bangs.


I showed the picture to a co-worker. She laughed hysterically.

Yet, somehow, some of my classmates looked worse. There was this one guy I went to school with, Joe. Poor Joe, at the age of 14, couldn’t say his Rs. He wore heavy-framed squarish glasses in a particularly unattractive shade of brown. He was wearing a sportcoat at our 8th grade graduation. He looked like a 45-year-old nerd at the age of 14. Sad.

He’s my Facebook friend now, married with two children, and I often wonder if he ever learned to say his Rs, but I can’t, like, ask. (I have searched for videos of him, in case I could hear him speaking. Nada.)

The 8th grade graduation photo sparked a flurry of old-schoolmate comments. Fortunately, we were all equally mortified. Except probably for that brat Emily, who was always pretty and looks just sweet and unblemished as can be in that picture. I hope she’s fat and big-nosed now.

Not really.

Oh, who am I kidding? Yes, really.

Then someone posted a picture from what I think was my junior year of high school. It’s my school choir. It was an all-girl choir. You can imagine the hair. There have got to be 40 girls in this picture, all white, all wearing that horrible choir dress, and all with big, curly, mall-bang hair. It’s a wonder we all fit in the picture with our ‘dos.

I showed that picture to the same co-worker and challenged her to find me in it. She couldn’t. When I pointed myself out, she denied that it could possibly be me.

At my voice lesson today, my teacher was talking about a choir reunion her high school is having. She had debated going (for which she would have had to fly back to a town where no one in her family lives anymore), but got out of it when she realized one of her other vocal students is getting married, and the events conflict. Carol is 10 years older than me, but she’s still just as bitter as she ever was about the politics of high school, and the girls she hated then and still hates now. Aside from that brat Emily, I think I’m pretty much over all the issues from back then. One of the things I found myself glad of was the fact that we were all making fun of ourselves in our FB comments. Even the guys in the 8th grade picture were mocking their own outfits, heights (apparently the short guys are still short)… they were wishing aloud that they still had that much hair, or that they were still that thin.

Being a grown-up is sometimes so much better than being a kid. As kids, we mocked others out loud and secretly hated everything about ourselves. As grown-ups, we’ve accepted a lot about ourselves. We mock ourselves out loud and secretly hate other people. Like Emily.

I applied for my passport on Monday. Of course, they had to take a photo. (Of course, they had to charge me $15 for it.) Passport photos are just one step above driver’s license photos, and probably only because the fact that it’s for international travel makes it seem more glamorous. But mine is a mug shot.

No, really. If I die suddenly, go missing, or am accused of a horrific crime, this is the picture that’s going to be on the news. My eyes look funny (which is probably a product of me trying not to cross them; I sometimes think that if a camera is too close to me and I’m actually “posing” for the photo, I come out looking slightly cross-eyed, even though I’m not) and my mouth looks funny (because I was trying not to smile like a doofus). Thank God I remembered to wear something with some color, because that’s the only saving grace. The post office guy who took the picture said it was the best one he’d taken all day. But it was only 11:30am. So.

My hair was pulled back into a ponytail, which, in the photo, is lying limply across one shoulder.

What do I have to do to my hair? Geez.

Having to do with nothing at all: today is my grandfather’s 93rd birthday. I realize that I’m very lucky, at 34, to still have a grandparent. He’s the only one I’ve got, and I don’t get to see him much. About a year and a half ago, he had an “episode” (undiagnosed despite a month of trying) – something like a tiny stroke that had no effect except that of paralyzing his epiglottis. That’s the thing what keeps you from choking when you eat and drink. Which means he can’t eat and drink anymore. He’s fed through a tube in his stomach, and for the first time in his life, he looks his age. He sent me a note the other day: “Please don’t send me a gift for my birthday or Father’s Day. I have gifts in my bedroom that I might never use. Please send me cash instead.” I laughed out loud; in my family, flat-out asking for cash is gauche. But you know what, Pop? You were born into poverty. You were given away to someone else to be raised. You served four years overseas in a war. You buried a child. You raised three more. You sent a son to Vietnam (and, fortunately, got him back). You worked every day until retirement. You watched two of your children’s marriages fail, and you couldn’t understand why. You cared for a wife with Alzheimer’s Disease and never broke your promise not to put her in a home, even though we all thought you should. Ten years ago, you buried her. And today, you’re 93, and you don’t want a gift because you know that, frankly, you might die before you get to use it. You can’t even drink an Old Fashioned to toast your years. Today, Pop, you can have anything you want. Check’s in the mail, along with all my love and respect. Happy birthday.




7 thoughts on “The Age of Bighair-ius

  1. I had the perm, but it wasn’t that big. I did have the feathered hair thing going on for quite a while, now that was something.

    The thing about high school memories – well about a lot of memories we have of people, come to think of it – is that they don’t allow you to consider that people grow up. Believe it or not, Facebook has been the biggest help for me in this area. It has allowed me to see the adult, the person with kids and a family, thoughts and feelings and concerns that are way bigger than who was popular, who was a nerd, who was… I sometimes don’t allow for the fact that people who are close to me can change, much less being able to understand that some asshole who treated me like shit in high school may not actually be like that anymore. Will we ever be friends? Probably not. But we can be Facebook friends.

    • I think you’re absolutely right. And Facebook is great for teaching us that. So are reunions, though I probably won’t go to any more of them. I got a lot of dirty looks at the last one.

  2. I agree with Skipping Stones about FB. That avenue sort of helps you see beyond the labels- old or new. As for the entire post… well, that’s my entertainment for the day! And I must be hormonal or something bc that last bit about your 93-year-old grandpa nearly made me tear up. Keep up the funny stuff!

      • Every once in a while, I have to throw in something emotional so people don’t think I’m a total snarky bee-atch. 🙂 And I’m just kidding about Emily. She DOES look super-sweet and pretty in that 8th grade graduation picture, but I don’t wish anything bad on her now. And she’s not on FB, so I have no idea what’s up with her these days.

  3. At 34, I can’t imagine that you don’t look great in your picture. I hate pictures of myself now as I age. I had to have a friend take a new picture of my a couple of months ago to put on my blog but ultimately hid it on the copyright page. At 58 (OMG) it is apparent that youth is fleeting and mine has left town along with my firm wrinkle free skin.

    I love your sentiments about your grandfather. My grandfather died several years ago but I still have my 98 year old grandmother around. She is quite insistent also that she needs nothing except body lotion, slippers, and Walmart gift cards to buy her little treats. She is currently loving jams and jellies on toast for snacks. She is thinking she can eat all the sweets she wants as who is going to stop her. She is in great health.

    • I do not look great. I don’t look old… but I don’t look great. I hear you on the point you’re making, though. I’m glad I’m past the point of “untagging” pictures (not that there were FB pictures to “untag” when I was in that place), but I might just refuse to look at pictures of me as I age. I think the only “grace” I’ll want with aging is a graceful mind and spirit. The rest of it I’m going to fight all the way.

      I’m amazed at your grandmother, still so spry! So lucky to be able to keep that going!

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