Do you remember a time when you were young, perhaps your parents were having a dinner party, a Thanksgiving gathering, or a barbecue? The adults were boozing and laughing while you drank your apple juice in wide-eyed wonder, pondering the strange socialization habits of adults—like a scientist trying to understand animalistic mating rituals in the Serengeti—you were left wondering, why the heck do they act like this? Barking like hyenas, discussing the most puzzling of things. This is fun for them? Where are my Ninja Turtles action figures? Yes, if you’re like me then these may have been your sentiments. Then, one of the adults makes a joke and the table erupts in laughter, snickering, tongue clucking and tsking. “What?” You ask the larger humans, “What’s so funny?”
“Oh sweetie, you’ll get it when you’re older.”
You’ll get it when you’re older. I remember how that felt. Frustrating. I wanted to get it now—to be older right NOW. Unfortunately that feeling never really went away. I remember going through life always wishing I was just a bit older. Then people would take me seriously.
I remember the day before my 5th birthday. My mother had a giant party planned and relatives were flying in from all the country to attend my extravagantly themed Hawaiian luau party. She had ordered giant boxes of grass skirts. Tiki torches had been erected along the perimeter of the porch and pineapple-shaped lights were strung overhead. This was a big deal, folks. I was turning five. I, of course, wanted to look my best for the party, and since being four was so last year, I decided I needed a haircut that exclaimed “I’m five chic.” I didn’t want anyone to think I was still four and nothing had changed. I wanted to turn heads.
I took a pair of scissors from a drawer in the kitchen and casually left the house, whistling nonchalantly on my way to the garage with a little strut in my step because I knew when I came out I was going to be looking fly as a motherfucker. In the dark, mildew-y garage (read: “salon”) I gave myself the most liberating haircut. Goodbye four! I said coolly, as I Edward Scissorhanded the shit out of my hair without a single shred of fear and zero fucks given. After all I was so intuitive now that I was five. It all felt so raw, instinctual, and gratifying. I closed my eyes, gripping the scissors with my pudgy little fingers while ‘The Eye of the Tiger’ played on my mind-soundtrack.
As I exited the garage looking like a cross between a toothless swamp monster and the youngest Hanson brother, I had not a care in the world. I had decided to go upstairs and pick out a snazzy little outfit for the festive occasion when I presently ran into my nanny on the stairs.
“Hallie?!” Her shriek sounded like a question (because she actually wasn’t sure whether it was me, or the lead singer of Flock of Seagulls). She turned a ghostly white color and clasped her hands to her face like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.
The gravity of what I had done set in.
She screamed for my mother to come. The rest was a blur. I remember being rushed off immediately for an “emergency” haircut and attending my birthday party the next day looking unmistakably like Toad from Mario. I remember my mother having to explain over and over to each and every partygoer about why the guest of honor was sporting a freshly sculpted bowl cut. Everyone was so puzzled why such a habitually sweet little girl would do such a thing.
I giggled to myself, tossing my head back and clutching my round belly like a baby Santa Claus. Smirking at the larger humans I thought, Ha. You’ll get it when you’re older.