jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


My hair hung all the way to my hips when I cut it all off two years ago. If you asked me why I would have lied to you. I would have told you it was a bother to my training schedule. It was hot, it was heavy, it was always wet from sweat or showers. If you cried out in reprobation, I would have lied further, and said I gave it to charity to make wigs for children with no hair.

The truth: there was a man. And the train that went out of service and left me stuck on a platform and late getting home; the cab that whisked efficiently through traffic and got me to him early; the celphone call that cut out at that dead spot by the power plant near the highway, all served to confirm what he thought he saw when my eyes met the waiter's when I placed my order, when I stopped to pet a neighbor's dog and praise him extravagantly, when my face already had a smile on it as I walked through the park to meet him. It all read as betrayal to him, either completed or imminent.

So I cut off my hair. I made myself into a meek novitiate, begging acceptance into his order. I sought to make myself plain, arid, beautiful in penance only to him. I was both privately proud and secretly ashamed of the sacrifice at the time.

Today when I check my email there is a promo: check your love horoscope! Does it ever say, hell no, you are not ready, in fact you are a toxic slag heap with an unknowable half-life? It seems like there would be a benefit in that. At least my hair would be on my head, instead of in a bag on the corner of my desk.


Blogger Dr. S said...

No, I don't think that the horoscope ever does tell you you're a toxic slag heap. Which is good, in your case, because it wouldn't be true.

We cut off our hair for all kinds of reasons, no? For some reason, I waited until the day *after* my master's exam to cut off the rest of my bob, and I haven't gone long since.

Your hair is lovely now. And you're even lovelier than your hair.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two questions: (1) Since when is short hair "plain," "arid," or the sign of a meek novitiate? I've never seen it that way. Looks just right in the photo, and it makes sense with the voice in these entries. But then, that's the only way I know you.

And (2) "Meek?" Really?? In what universe? If that's true, then I've been reading wrong all these months.

Ever read Browning's "My Last Duchess?"

9:58 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

aw, thanks Dr. S. I left it ambiguous as to whether I was the slag heap or him. I lean more towards him and the wild jealousy

and now we know, that if a man with a dim view, holding down a corner of a coffee shop in the middle of the country can sense your gorgeousness, well, then, you are certainly owning it.

a non, a mouse, you are right, if I am being meek you know I have been well-beaten. It's a sadness that I allowed it. And short hair can look all cute and sassy on someone else, as shorn as I had it, I looked grim and hard scrapped.

I've never read Browning, which one are we talking about? (I know enough to ask that question, at least)

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert. You can get to it here:

It's in fact a sadness. Your hair looks right sassy in the photo. Or maybe it's just that smile.

4:10 PM  

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