"What's wrong with it?" Mom wanted to know as she pulled at the ends of my hair, searching for unevenness or missed split ends.
"Nothing." I sulked.
"Then why do you hate it?"
"I wanted bangs." My mother roared. I have been wanting bangs since preschool.
"Do you know how many people have bangs this season?" I defended myself. "I just went through the February issue of In Style at the salon, and there was a gorgeous picture of J-Lo with awesome bangs."
"But the stylist didn't give you any." There was a hint of curiosity in her voice, ever so slight under the suppressed mirth.
"No." I pouted. "She obviously saw my cowlick and immediately suggested layers. I kept saying bangs, but she would just rephrase and say, 'So you want more of angle here?'"
Shaking with laughter, my mother said, "Well, she was right."
Like I said, I have wanted bangs for a long time. My sister and I always had our hair cut the same way. She is blessed with thick (and until her second pregnancy) straight hair that falls absolutely perfectly over her forehead. Every picture of her as a child shows bright brown eyes sparkling mischievously beneath a perfect fringe of chocolate colored bangs. Beside her in the photo sits me, Chief Little Feather, with my sparrow-colored crest jutting up over my left temple and extending to the middle of my forehead.
I remember the jealousy as far back as preschool. Carrie Green, my first best friend, had the most beautiful blond bangs, and I was sure that this was part of the reason I was ostracized from the other like-banged girls at her fourth birthday party. Even then my hair wouldn't cooperate, and the other girls knew it.
Not that the cowlick is really that important. It merely reminds me every day that you can't win them all. I am resigned. Almost. Some morning, I would like to win just once. Even my sons have joined in the fight. Standing on the top of the toilet lid, my first-grader sometimes suggests. "Maybe if you pulled harder when you blew it down, Mommy.... Or maybe you could use glue."
My preschooler has other ideas. "You have to be a boy, Mommy. Boys' hair always goes down. It's the rule. Like robots." He obviously hasn't paid attention to his brother's hair in the morning, but that's beside the issue.
I'm surprised that he hasn't brought up his vampire mother, which he, perfectly capable of enunciating "v," pronounces as "dampire" as if it follows, "dam* cat, dam* dog, dam*pire."
In the alternate universe of AJ, he has a complete dampire family. They are mentioned whenever a member of his real family is lacking in some way.
When told to get off the computer: "My dampire daddy lets me play as many games as I want to."
When told to get dressed: "My dampire mother loves my pajamas."
The best was when he had the stomach flu. As he sat on the toilet with me rubbing his little belly, he looked at me with accusing eyes and said, "My dampire mommy knows how to make good food, and my belly never hurts."
My sister says I should encourage him to call his dampire family and have them pick him up.
I admit, though, that I am oddly jealous. Even though I know she is a figment of his imagination, I feel a stringent competition with Mama Dampire. Hopefully I will have more success with her than I've had with my bangs.