I Got Banged Up

I watched Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday the other night and everything that has been missing in my life suddenly became clear to me: bangs. I needed bangs. Audrey cuts her long locks into the most adorable, bangy pixie cut and then spends the rest of the day escaping reality in Rome and falling in love with Gregory Peck. Sounds good to me. I called and booked a haircut immediately.

Trying to be considerate of those around me, I notified my girlfriends of my plan so they could pre-emptively turn their phones off after my appointment. I also told my husband who proceeded to book a trip out of town. I loaded up our house with Kleenex and made my way to the Curl Ambassador on Harbord Street in Toronto. If you have curly hair, obviously you want their Ambassador to cut it for you.

I pulled out my phone and showed Keina the picture of Audrey in her lovely, white, Roman Holiday button-down and chic handkerchief tied round her neck.

“Aren’t her bangs fabulous?” I cooed.

Keina studied the screen. “Yes, they are. On HER.”

She did have a point. The last time I had bangs was in the 80’s, a time when I also wore scrunchies and neon stirrup pants, none of which I would say are really good looks for me. Nevertheless, I wanted Audrey bangs.

“I really think it’s a bad idea.” I didnt care.

Keina tried again: “They are going to accentuate your nose.”

This gave me pause. I am horribly self-conscious about my nose but reasoned with her that my brother is a plastic surgeon.

She went on: “I feel I have a professional responsibility to tell you that they are going to look terrible.”

Of course they were going to look terrible! I thought that was obvious. If history was any predictor, I was going to cry all the way home, lock myself in the bathroom for hours, pulling at my hair all the while and wretchedly bemoaning my decision: Why!? Why did I mutilate myself!? Once I scraped myself off the floor I would then spend the night trying to find a decent way to pin back my new bangs until they grew out. But maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe I would look just like Audrey, become a princess and traipse around Europe.

“Do it.” I instructed Keina.

She finally relented on the condition that I promise to tell anyone who saw me that she had strongly advised me not to cut bangs, but I had insisted.

She hovered over me with the scissors. “You know, once I cut them I can’t uncut them, right?”

 “DO IT!” I yelled, the entire salon turning to face us. “DO IT”

I heard a loud snip.

I looked at myself in the mirror and then at Keina in horror. “Oh my God! What did you just do!?!?!” 

I began to hyperventilate. She did too. I screamed. She joined in. She started backing away, both of us surveying the damage. They were hideous. My nose wasn’t just “accentuated,” it had Pinocchioed, practically doubling in size. I looked much less like Audrey and much more like a flashdancing Cabbage Patch Kid. What a feeling? You have no idea!

I texted my brother straight away: “I need an emergency nose job!!!”

“What!? What happened? Are you okay? Are you hurt? Should I call someone?”

“I cut bangs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Okay, don’t panic. I’ll open up the OR stat and ask the staff to stay late. How soon can you be here?” I stopped. My brother lives in Los Angeles. Clearly this was not a well-reasoned back-up plan. Where was Gregory Peck when you needed him!?

I was going to have to live with my decision. Listening to the sound of the scissors snipping around my head I was reminded of how fast change can be. What was it that Oprah used to say? You are one choice away from changing your life? I like the notion of that. I like the idea that I am just a hair’s width away from living the life I always wanted, except making the choice to actually get there, to implement the actual, one foot in front of the other actions needed to effect change, feels much too daunting. There are so many changes I would like to make, so many things I wish I could do differently but I am too frightened. I am frightened of the transition. I am frightened of regret. I am afraid to find that I just don’t have enough courage in myself, enough resolve, to follow through when things get difficult. I’m scared of the necessary work that comes with making real, true, lasting change. And because I am terrified to address the real things in my life that need changing, I make small, pointless incremental changes. I cut bangs instead.

Driving home from the hairdresser’s, I fussed with my new hair in the rearview mirror, pulling at it and pushing it, looking at it from different angles. Finally, I put it back just the way Keina had styled it. Sitting at a red light I stared at myself, not moving until the car behind me honked. I am still not sure bangs suit me, but looking at them, I felt a little braver.