Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Saturday, July 05, 2003  

I was waiting at the hairdresser's to get a haircut today, and reading my book (Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2003) when a woman, sunglassed and hatted, came through the waiting room from inside, trailing her little daughter behind her. No more than six and as cute as anything, the girl had just gotten her hair cut, a short, close cropped cut, and was obviously displeased with the job: she had on her face the most exquisite scowl I have ever seen on the face of a human being. Her brows were furrowed deep, dark eyes blazing in anger, lips pursed in determined fury; as expressive and moving a portrait of the humiliations occasioned by childhood as any. She stamped her sandalled feet as they walked out of the salon, a further indication (as if any were needed) of her displeasure and protest at this assault on her pre-pubescent dignity.

"Fix your face," her mother commanded, without turning around. "You look fine."

But it was obvious to all that fine was the last thing this child thought she was looking, or indeed feeling. And I would have had her gotten that same haircut again, and had myself waiting to get mine, just to see that look on her face one more time, and share with her, her pain.

posted by Jonathan | 9:58 PM 0 comments


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