Demonstration in Minilessons: my personal narrative

When I attended T.C., I took “The Teaching of Writing” with Lucy Calkins, who truly taught me how to write better (not to mention how to be a better teacher of writing!). We wrote personal narratives for her class in which we went through many drafts and had to keep a log of our process. At first I wasn’t so sure about the idea of keeping a process log. However, I found it to be extremely helpful to me when I was crafting my minilessons for the personal narrative unit of study.

I found these photos this morning and thought that if I placed them alongside my personal narrative, The Big Cut, then you’d almost have a visual timeline to work with as you read. Please note: Franko was not the real name of the stylist who botched-up my haircut. I wanted to try to protect the guilty party, so I completely changed his name!

“The Big Cut”

I winced as Franko retrieved his pointy scissors from the drawer. I grasped the handles of the chair as he raised his scissors towards my head to cut off my ponytail that was tied up like a roast beef. Cccchhhhhhccccttt! An instant later, it was off.
Franko presented my ponytail to me on the other side of the chair. “Uuuuuugh!” I gasped. I couldn’t muster any words. I was in shock. Franko messed-up… big time! He sliced my ponytail off above the top rubber band instead of below it! He was supposed to cut below the rubber band; I know I told him that! I thought I had been clear with him (apparently not). Ugh! How could he have fowled up so royally?!!? This is what I get for cheating on Kevin, my regular stylist, for the guy who cuts Monica Lewinsky’s hair. What was I thinking?!!?
“It’s so chic,” offered Franko.
“Really?” I asked nervously.
“Absolutely,” he replied, “short hair is in right now.”
Of course it is. Would Franko actually tell me that long hair was the trend considering he had sliced off four inches too much?
I lifted my right hand towards my head to feel my hair. My bangs felt like they still had a lot of length. Relieved, my hand slid to the nape of my neck. There was practically no hair on the back of my head! In fact, my fingertips were touching my skin that had small bits of hair stuck to the back of it.
“It’s really short,” I stated curtly. “Spin me around so I can see the back.”
Franko complied. He handed me a mirror and spun the chair around so I could inspect the back of my hair. I gasped again. “Oh Lord!” I exclaimed. It was short. Too short. Boy short.
Dori, one of my friends who accompanied me to the salon in Georgetown for the big cut, saw me panicking. “It must be a relief to have all that hair off,” Dori offered. I shot her a dirty look and then feigned a smile, purely for Franko’s sake, and replied, “Yes, I suppose it is.”
Why was I doing anything for Franko’s sake? For goodness sake, why didn’t I say, “Franko, don’t you know how to use a ruler? I said ten inches and I meant ten inches! You cut way more! I told you to cut below the top rubber band of the ponytail, not above it! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?”
But instead, I said nothing. I couldn’t muster any words. My hair was cut. It couldn’t be reattached. Is it possible to seek justice after your hair is chopped off? What’s the point of having a war of words over something that can’t be fixed?
Loren, another friend who joined me that day, asked Franko, “Shouldn’t Stacey get her hair washed so you can style it and blow it?” (Franko was her stylist and she was the one who insisted I see him. After all, he cut Monica’s hair, which was a big deal in Washington DC back in 1998!)
“Absolutely!” Franko replied. “I’ll personally bring her back to the sinks so Joseph can wash her hair and give her a great scalp massage.”
As I was about to get up from the chair Franko extended his hand, but I didn’t take it. I didn’t want anything from him or his salon anymore, not even a scalp massage.
Reluctantly I settled into the chair and received a delightful scalp massage. My mind began to wander as the warm water ran though my short locks like a cascading waterfall. Why was I upset? I was donating my ponytail to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for kids with long-term hair loss. I thought about how horrible it would be to have cancer or alopecia as a little girl. That thought brought me right back into reality. So what if Franko cut off too much hair? My hair would grow back… eventually. With that thought, I resolved to confront any bad hair days to come with a stiff upper lip.
Though it takes ten ponytails to create one child’s wig, I knew my hair would make a little girl’s life more normal again. Childhood is supposed to be about hanging upside down on jungle gyms or diving into pools with your friends. So what if my hair was boy short… at least there would be one less little girl hiding under a hat, ashamed of what she looked like, as she battled a horrible disease. No one should live like that. And now, one little girl wouldn’t have to.

Blogger’s Note: I’ve cut my hair twice for Locks of Love (1998 and 2005) and once for Wigs for Kids (2002). If you have long hair, please consider donating your ponytail, rather than just having the stylist throw it away, to one of these amazing organizations.