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When I was eight years old, Mommy took me to the salon. It was a big day for me. I had long hair. Mommy said I was going to get it cut shorter like big girls cut their hair. She would ask the stylist to cut and style it all pretty while Mommy had her hair done, too. "Girls Day." That’s what Mommy called it. I couldn’t wait!

I had never had a real haircut. My hair was past my waist. It was soft and silky. Daddy used to play with it. Mommy did, too, but not how Daddy did.

Sometimes Mommy would trim my bangs. She said she wasn’t very good at it. She liked them short so they wouldn’t get in my eyes. She’d sit me down in the kitchen with a towel on my chest to catch to cut ends. She’d make my bangs damp. Then she’d cut them.

At first, Mommy would cut them right above the brow, but I know she wanted them shorter. Each time Mommy cut them, she raised them. The last time, before my day at the salon, before Daddy told her never to cut my hair herself again, Mommy cut them so high up that I couldn’t grab hair. She just chopped them right at the top of my forehead. She cut them right off. There was nothing left but soft stubble.

Daddy was angry with her. "How could you do that to her?" he yelled. Then Daddy made Mommy sit in front of the mirror and cut her bangs the same way. "If you don’t do it," he had said. "I’ll do it for you. And I may not stop at the bangs." Mommy and I had the shortest bangs. It was like we didn’t have bangs. Mommy cried, but I didn’t. I looked just like Mommy, and she was so pretty even without bangs.

On our special day, Mommy told me to dress in jeans and a cowboy shirt. She said it would look great with pretty girl hair. I liked dressing like a cowgirl. Then Mommy drove us to the salon and told me to wait where the magazines were while she told Mario what to do. She said it would be shorter to me, but Mommy spent a lot of time describing to Mario what she wanted him to do. I was so excited.

A nice lady took me to the big sink and my hair was shampooed even though it wasn’t dirty. My neck hurt, but it didn’t matter. I was getting a big girl haircut.

The nice lady took me to Mario. I sat up on a board across the arm of the chair in my jeans and fancy cowboy shirt. A towel was put around my neck, then a big cape. The cape was much bigger than I was.

Mario said hello, commented about how long my hair was, and then he didn’t talk to me again except when he said, "Just how the lady wants it cut. Don’t know why she just doesn’t take you to a barber."

I watched in the mirror, not sure what to expect, and not sure if I should say anything or just watch. Mommy always talked to the person doing her hair.

Mario first took my hair, combed it all back straight, held it in his hands and cut off my long hair right at the neck. I remember the cold blade slicing through it. No hair was going to cover my neck anymore. First I had long hair, then it was cut off. That fast. It was very short right at the hairline in back. But it was a big girl cut Mommy and I wanted. I was still very excited.

Then Mario moved very fast. I saw Mommy in another chair getting finished across the room in the reflection. She was watching. Smiling. Laughing. Her hair was long and pretty. Her bangs had grown in. She was so beautiful and she smiled at me and put her finger up to her mouth. Shhhhhhh!

Mario started at the front, and with long sharp scissors, started slicing away at my hair. Hair was falling all over me. I was in a panic. What was he doing? His fingers were holding the hair right at the hairline, and he was snipping it off. I couldn’t say anything. I just watched. Mario was cutting off all my hair, just like Mommy cut off all my bangs. I started to cry, and Mario told me to Shhh! "Your mother told me to do this. She said to cut it short. Boys shouldn’t have long hair like that anyway. It ain’t normal," he added.

Boys? Did he think I was a boy? Did Mommy tell him I was a boy?

Then Mario took electric clippers without a guard, and shaved off what little hair was left. What was left was almost nothing. I had just a hint of hair. Just a hint of color. My ears were showing. Everything was showing. I was bald. Mario shaved my head like Daddy shaves his face. I sat there and cried. Mario didn’t know what to do.

Mommy came over, thanked Mario and apologized, tugged me across the room, and said, loud enough for the other customers to hear, "Big boys don’t cry like this, Tony. Now stop acting like an infant. You had girl hair. You looked like a sissy." She paid the receptionist, thanked her, apologized for her "son’s" behavior, and left.

That night Daddy hugged me for a long long time, stroking my head, saying, "It will grow back, Tina." Then he shaved Mommy’s head with shaving cream.

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