I am officially coming out. It’s my deepest, darkest secret, and it’s one that only a few select people know about me. But I am coming out to you, Internet, please don’t judge: When I was four, I had a mullet. Before you laugh and point, it wasn’t my fault! I requested bangs and shoulder length hair, in sharp contrast to the ‘fro that I was sporting at that time. I didn’t really have any style icons – I was four! I still watched Mister Rogers and wore Micky Mouse sunglasses – but I knew enough to know that I wanted nice, shiny hair that could go in a ponytail. A simple request, no?
Tragically, a lack of style icons was also directly linked to a lack of salon finess, so when we went to my GRANDMOTHER’S hairdresser (there’s a red flag for you) it seemed like any other place that one would go to get a haircut, if one went to a place owned by a woman who sported a silvery white beehive, black sunglasses indoors (which may account for all the bad hair that came out of that place) and loud, chunky necklaces that clanked against her heaving chest when she walked about in the smoke from her long, French cigarettes. Her name was Doris. There are no words.
Now, before I tell the rest of this story, I just want you to know that my mother still has guilt about this day. Well, we’re Lutheran, so she has guilt about more things than this, but this particular day will always be in the forefront of her mind. And if I ever find it’s made its way to the backfront, or even the mediumfront, well you can bet I will remind her of this awful, awful day.
I remember sitting down in the chair, olive green and sticky, and listening while my mom told Doris what I wanted. To her credit, nowhere in that chat did my mother ever say “And yeah, if you could give my 4-year-old a mullet, that would be great, too.” Knowing this is probably what saves my mother from wandering in purgatory, if Lutherans believed in that sort of thing. Or from a lifetime of always volunteering to make the Jell-O salad, which Lutherans embrace as the third sacrament.
Then, and this is the part where I always want to rewind and pause to stay forever four so that I never have to face the indignity of public mulletation, after I was wrapped up and shampooed, MY MOTHER LEFT THE SALON. THAT’S RIGHT, LEFT. I WILL SAY IT IN ALL CAPS AGAIN SO THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THE MAGNITUDE OF THIS STATEMENT: MY MOTHER. LEFT. ME. WITH A SCISSORS-WEILDING CHAIN SMOKER WHO DISTRACTED PEOPLE WITH NECKLACES SO THEY WOULDN’T NOTICE HOW BAD THEIR HAIR WAS. OH. GOD.
I believe she went to a craft store just down the way. While my hair and sense of self literally fell to the floor, my mother was examining fabric samples and looking at vases or something. Needless to say, Hobby Lobby has never held any charm for her.
Contrary to how assertive I am now, the presence of a big Doris above me with choppers was too intimidating at age four, so I just sat there while more and more of my hair was lovingly feathered about my head, making me look not unlike a small Billy Ray Cyrus. I let her do it to me, but I maintain that no 4-year-old should have to defend her own hair against a Doris – it’s just too much to ask.
Well, as you can imagine, the aftermath was catastrophic. My mom was yelling, I was crying (I was the one with the mullet, after all) and my grandma was trying to convice everyone that it was “very cute and trendy” because, after all, it was her Doris that screwed everything up. And remember that part when I said I had a ‘fro? Try mixing hair that naturally ‘fros, with a mullet. There isn’t a hairstyle called the Frullet for no reason, kids: it’s ugly.
There was, understandably, no Doris in my life after this. We left the salon that day, never to return. While I missed the time I spent trying to figure out just how DID her hair stay up in that alarming fashion?! I did not miss the creepy necklaces and bug-eye glasses. And to this day, I get a little shiver of fear when I go get a haircut, because there’s always a moment when something could go wrong, and I could end up with another mullet. Because if that happened, I would be eating Jell-O salad for the rest of my life.