"If I had one hour in a time machine…":Plinky Prompts Thursday

If you could change an event in your life, WOULD you?

Captain’s Log: March, 1990. I’ve traveled back in time 21 years to a moment which altered my world and changed the course of my life forever. I’ve climbed aboard this state-of-the-art Chronos Transport Hover Craft today in hopes that I might turn the tide on an event which severely impacted my entire childhood. I can only hope that I’m not too late.

The CT Hover Craft landed gently on a lush, green lawn, a mere 10 seconds after making the jump to light speed. So far, so good. I could only hope that I had maneuvered my ship to the exact coordinates of 28 Peterson Street, at exactly 3:58 PM, on March the 17th. I had no time to lose.

I quickly deplaned, wearing my silver Time Traveler Couture jump suit (made from sequins, glitter, and the tears of angels), and made off for the house which stood directly in front of me. Ah, I thought. I know this place well. I had spent many days of my youth at this location, and its familiar aroma of chocolate chip cookies and freshly brewed coffee excited the nostalgia in my brain. I couldn’t linger on sentimental memories, however. I had work to do.

I stealthily entered the first room I saw: an older woman stood around a kitchen island, quietly mixing ingredients into a large, yellow bowl, faded with use. Behind her, a small television loudly broadcasted some program which featured angry women throwing chairs at their equally angry husbands. I couldn’t make out exactly what caused their distress, but I’m willing to bet it was due to pregnancy results or infidelity…possibly both.

I couldn’t allow myself to linger and get wrapped up in their drama. Leaving the woman churning batter in the kitchen, I quickly made my way to the other side of the house, where I found a large, carpeted living room, complete with a massive fireplace, awaiting me. Inside, a small girl of no more than 5 or 6 sat, absent-mindedly watching David the Gnome on TV while playing with a Fisher Price set of make-believe items….combs, brushes, empty plastic bottles of shampoo: she was playing hair dresser.

She carried on a lively dialogue between herself and an imaginary customer, while the soft tones of the TV played in the background. Her little hands were abuzz with motion, flitting from this brush to that. She pantomimed shampooing her customer’s hair, rinsing it, brushing it out. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, her hands were upon an object that was not fake…an object that was not a part of the play set. An actual pair of real scissors.

This was it, I thought. This was the moment that changed everything. A twinge of terror rose through my veins. She has no idea what is coming next, I mused. Years and years of shame and regret would plague her every step, and she knows nothing of it. But, I do.

I alone know what happens in the ensuing five minutes. The child will next take the pair of scissors, which she snatched unknowingly from her grandmother, place them in her small, innocent hands, and turn them on her own soft, brown locks. She will think nothing of it, shearing bits and pieces of her hair into uneven strands and Alfalfa-like sculptures. And why? Because she’s playing hair dresser, and it was time for her hair cut.

Minutes later, her grandmother will come into the room, turn 10 shades of pale, and scream out in horror, as her granddaughter stands before her with an impish smile on her face. Tears will ensue, but not from the child…weeping at the stylistic catastrophe before her, the grandmother will place a telephone call to the girl’s mother, who will rush in from work to confront her own sobbing mother and her now-confused daughter.

The mother will then make a decision for her daughter which will then echo throughout the early years of her life. In order to rectify the salon disaster, the young child will be taken to a real hair stylist, who will, in turn, give her an unbelievably cute but immensely dull bowl cut…a hair style she will subsequently keep for years to come.

The child will continue into grade and middle school with such a haircut, unlike many of her female peers, who treasured and adored their long locks. The child will never know braided hair, or pigtails, or head bands. She will never be dubbed as one of the “pretty girls,” and will tote an appearance more of a tom boy than of a Barbie girl. She will struggle to attract the focus of the male gender, turning more to humor and spunk than feminine wiles and attraction.

I stood there, replaying the scenario in my head, and knew that my time was limited. I had to act now. The child stood before me, scissors in hand, and just as I was about to warn her of a childhood full of awkward school pictures and teasing criticisms from friends, my voice faltered.

I suddenly realized that I couldn’t tell her what was about to happen. I couldn’t change the course her life would take from that moment on, because, in the end, we become who we are by the struggles we endure. No, she wouldn’t be thought of as a pretty little girl. No, she wouldn’t attract the attention of the male gender until she was 25. And no, she would still have to endure a very long awkward phase which lasted—nay, is lasting—well into her 20’s. But I wasn’t about to change the course of events that led me where I am today.

Yes, I was a tomboy. Yes, I played with Power Rangers. Instead of being the pretty girl, I played sports, told gross jokes, and spent my summers in front of a Nintendo. I encouraged a sense of humor before a sense of fashion, and I was forced to focus more on personality than looks. In a way, my short hair defined me even before I knew how to define myself. It was my first step at becoming an individual, if even done accidentally.

Slowly and quietly backing away from the child, I walked back out through the front door, hearing several rising shrieks emanating from the house. The grandmother had no doubt stumbled on the scene of the crime, and it took all the power in me to not chuckle. Don’t worry, I thought. Even though she’ll endure a hideous haircut, years of playing with the boys, and an awkward phase which puts all other awkward phases to shame, she’ll be just fine.

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For some reason, the original thread got deleted, along with a few of the original comments from some awesome posters…so I wanted to re-comment them!

Merillion:  Nicely done!  Kept me very interested.  I had an experience at a very young age which sure might have changed MY hair forever!  Was alone in our Brooklyn apt; wanted to plug something into a wall outlet; but one of the metal prongs was bent outwards, so I held the prongs together while I plugged it into the outlet.  I remember the shock; remember waking up maybe minutes later, lying on the floor.  Never told my mother and father about this.  But I’ve always wondered whether it affected my brain in any way.  Many people I know would say "Oh YEAH!!" 🙂
It didn’t do anything to help my hair stick out, though; always been fine, straight, and flat.

Tori:  Awesome. I was fortunate in that I only got the Sears Salon Bowl Cut for a year or two before my mom opted to just give me "Curly Bangs" at home. I, too, was not considered the girly girl by peers, but there is something to be said for having a sense of humor and being comfortable playing Mario Cart in a room of boys!


21 responses to this post.

  1. “I encouraged a sense of humor before a sense of fashion, and I was forced to focus more on personality than looks.” There is a whole lot of terrific writing here, but that line really jumps out. Really like how you used the “sense of” phrase: it’s smooth. Great post.


    • Thanks, Chase! I love using the Plinky Prompts. I think I’m going to keep it as a regular feature on my site. Your comments make me blush and shrug my shoulders, all at the same time. 🙂


  2. Posted by fnkybee on January 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Beautifully written. I felt like I was standing there with you.
    I too had the short hair growing up, I did not cut mine though, I just think my mom or dad wanted a boy 😉 Looking back at school pics its quite embarrassing. I totally looked like a boy!


    • You WERE standing there with me, didn’t you know? You had on an invisible space jump suit…

      I think my mom got the comment “What a cute little boy!” many, many times as I grew up. Still does… 😉 Just kidding.


  3. I cut my hair too and my barbie’s hair. How were scissors so available??I loved this! I felt the angst and the peace about your life in the end. Great prompt and post. I wouldn’t change anything either.

    By the way step-daughter one is a total tomboy. 🙂


    • I tore off Barbie’s head and opted for Power Rangers. She was weak and feeble. She had to be put down.

      Yay for the tomboy’s! I definitely need to do a whole post about our breed. It’s something that never really goes away, either!


  4. I had that hair cut, too, when I was 4 or 5. I think everyone does at some point.


    • Whew, I’m not alone! I only finally got long hair into middle school, and then I chopped it again towards the end. I now have long hair, which I’m NOT getting rid of!


  5. A lot of people aren’t able to tell stories so well let alone is such a unique way. I love how you put us by your side to watch the event unfold, a memory replayed that we get to see for the first time. The perspective really makes this piece go though. Take it from someone else who had an awkward phase that lasted into my 20s, this story’s sweet.


    • Your words do me good, kind sir. I don’t believe the awkward phase ever ends, honestly…it just graduates into full Nerd-dom (some have called it Geek-dom, but to each his own). We are a rare, but fun, breed. 🙂


  6. Dude I have the same story …. I turned out semi retarded. Let me borrow that time machine!


  7. Thank you very much for the post, I really learned a lot from it. Super good content on this site. Always looking forward to new entry.


  8. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who as a matter of fact knows what they’re talking about on the internet. You almost always know how to bring an issue to light and make it be significant. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.


  9. Your home is valueble for me. Thanks!…


  10. […] “If I had one hour in a time machine…”:Plinky Prompts Thursday … I quickly deplaned, wearing my silver Time Traveler Couture jump suit (made from sequins, glitter and the tears of angels), and made off for the house which stood directly in front of me. I stealthily entered the first room I saw: an older woman stood around a kitchen island, quietly mixing ingredients into a large yellow bowl, faded with use. Behind her, a small television loudly broadcasted some program which featured angry women throwing chairs at their equally . […]


  11. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you’ll be able to take away me from that service? Thanks! accesorii evenimente


  12. How long did it take u to write “”If I had one hour in a time machine”:
    Plinky Prompts Thursday | Miracle on 32nd Street”? It
    includes a lot of really good details. Thanks a lot


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