Is it that important? (part 1)

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It was something Jennifer could not understand. The best looking girl in class, Amy, came to school one day with her hair shorn to a pixie cut, shorter than most boys’. She was tall, still not that ‘girly’ and ‘curvy’, so from afar one would easily confuse her to be one of those energetic boys. Since she was also very much of an athlete, taking part in the school’s athletics team, even winning some running competitions, she now really blended easily with the boys. However, from a closer distance, there were no mistakes. She was stunning, eyes, nose, cheeks, the full package. A real beauty, one seldom gets a chance to see in real life.

Jennifer and Amy were never close. On the contrary, there was some level of old animosity, which in time changed shape to on-going rivalry. The two girls knew each other for as long as they could remember. In kindergarten, they both looked for the teacher’s attention, tried to be the most popular toddlers, competed for the best dolls to play with – you know what I mean. There was also the “sand” incident, where Amy one day surprised Jennifer coming from behind, and poured as much sand she could hold in her then little hands into Jennifer eyes, face, nose. While Jennifer did retaliate (she now could not even remember what her retaliation was), the bitter taste of humiliation, anger, mixed with the very real sand in her mouth – stayed, and did not fade in time. But this was back then (11 year back, now they were both 15). Ever since, they considered each other as opponents, keeping a safe distance, letting this stupid childhood fight to keep them apart. This needs to be said – there were lots of similarities between the two: both were very intelligent, ‘A’ grade students, well accepted by their schools friends, and yes – the prettiest girls in class. Unlike Amy, Jennifer was a bit shorter, and at this age was already fully developed as a young woman. And while her face was really beautiful, what really made her stunning was her long thick blonde hair, something people normally do not get a chance to see in real life. It was so long, that it easily reached her knees. It was so thick, that when let loose, it made her look as if she was wearing a gown, engulfing her in the most amazing blondish ‘fabric’ one has to read about in fairy tales books to even be able to imagine. In those rare occasions when she did let it loose in public, people just stopped in disbelief, and stared. Jennifer was aware of this effect, and didn’t like it one bit, which drove her to keep it most of the time tightly braided, so tightly that it made her very long hair look shorter, just to the middle of her butt. But this braid was still turning heads. She was indeed one of the most popular girls, and a big success with the boys. Not as successful as Amy, though.

Amy was effortless in how she ‘handled’ the boys. She gave them very little attention, which made them even more attentive and curious about her. The fact that she excelled in sports made her even more popular. On her side, they were interesting creatures, but not more than that, and thus she enjoyed their attention (sure, no question about it), but up to a certain point. So in this asymmetric ‘relationship’, she served as an idol for everything the average boy would look for in a girl, somewhat of a ‘standard’ by which all other girls were evaluated. Including Jennifer.

But this was now changing a bit. Or even more than just a bit. As shallow as it might be, the cropped hairdo of Amy made her more earthly, as if the shorn hair took away some of her glamour. It is not that before that her claim for fame was her hair – yes, she had nice brown hair before, a bit longer than shoulder length, a bit curly, so nothing out of this world by its own right, but somehow it all felt right. And now, with less than an inch long hair, for the first time, something about her appearance felt wrong. Amy, by the way, did not disclose any explanations for the change – she just moved on, as if nothing has happened. Questions were left unanswered.

As one can guess, Jennifer’s hair was very important for her – she never took it for granted, and she spent time, money and energy on making it look at its best. She also used to trim the ends every 3 months, to eliminate any split ends, as well as to keep her hair at a reasonable length to maintain. It has to be mentioned – she was always amazed how quickly her hair grew. It felt as if it was growing half an inch every night (which of course was not the case), but even at the rate of 1 inch per month, it was an amazing growth rate.  While she had some curiosity about its terminal length, she knew that allowing it to grow even longer would be too much for her to handle.

Little by little, in a subtle and undetectable process, Amy’s position as the center of attention has changed … it took several weeks, but she now no longer was getting all the attention she used to get, the sophisticated flirts or the longing stares. Was she looking too boyish for the boys? Were they too superficial to notice how brilliant she still was? Couldn’t they see how beautiful her complexion was, did they miss her deep green eyes, and how her nose was divinely shaped by her parents genes or even god himself? Could it be that hair alone (or the lack of) made such a huge impact on her social position? And finally – how could they miss all the signals she was now sending all over: “hey, I am here, and I really do wish to get your attention”?

Jennifer on her part was having her best time ever. The queen is dead, long live the queen. Jennifer was everywhere … Amy was not able to avoid hearing people talking about Jennifer here, and Jennifer there. It was not only the students, even the teachers were impressed with her, as Jennifer was now even better in anything school related, be it brilliant in class, all the way to getting a main role in a school theater show – I wish you could see that final scene, when she unleashed her hair out of a huge high bun, in front of the packed auditorium. This was not her idea, though, but rather the director’s, who could not resist using this somewhat melodramatic gesture. Needless to say, her picture in the school magazine a week after, with her hair down, did not harm her popularity one bit.

At least in Amy’s eyes, she could not avoid the bitter thinking that the good old world (just 6 weeks ago) was perfect, and it was now ruined by something as unimportant as hair. You see, she never evaluated her hair that much, actually – she never thought hair, any hair, would make a big difference to anyone. Only when she came to school with her cropped hair she came to realize that maybe this was a mistake, that spontaneous desire to do something different with her hair. Yes, it was her own choice to allow the stylist all the liberty to do whatever she wanted. To be frank, she herself liked it a lot, and the weekend passed without any tears. Monday comes, and here she stands in front of her amazed classmates. She decided it would be better to say nothing about what drove her to part with her hair, and leave them to guess. Being mysterious is sometimes good, right?

The lack of hair on her beautiful head was one problem, but what made it worse, was the perfect head of hair Jennifer was showcasing all over the place. Things got a bit more problematic when after 2 months her hair started to grow a bit (nothing like the growth rate of Jennifer, though) and her head was now covered with small curls she hated herself, but more so also drew some negative comments from others. She was not ready for this – not being number one is a problem, but being laughed at is something she had no experience with. Could it be any worse? Well, yes, as it turned out she sprained her ankle in one of those competitions she was participating at, forcing her to use crutches for the first time. She was a miserable sight to see, and she felt miserable inside. She did get a lot of sympathy from her classmates, but inside her something was broken – she had a huge difficulty to see how her life would look much better when those temporary obstacles would be removed … her ankle would be better in 2-3 weeks, and her hair … well, in 2 years it will be more or less as before. “Have patience, girl, life is long and still very much ahead of you. It will be alright”. The very same words, more or less, crossed Jim’s lips, when he walked home with her (he was walking, she was … well … using her crutches). Jim was one of Amy’s fans, who did not switch sides. He was as faithful as one could hope for. And a bit stupid too. Which was why Amy, the Amy of the past, that is, was not willing to spend any unnecessary time with this boy. Now she begged for any attention, and if it was Jim, so be it. He was nice looking, true, but as dumb as … well, you get the picture. Very dumb. But let’s be fair with him – these words are the right words to say to a girl in trouble. He was right, and he truly cared for Amy. His words, though, were as influential an ant trying to lift an Elefant … she was now fixated on a crazy idea, something that gave her some purpose. Misery was now her second name, and the more miserable she was, the crueler her plan became. And Jim? he became a key person in her plan to reclaim her former position.



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