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EST. May 2000 (AD)




Six Inches

by Shannan Keenan

Six inches! Oh my God! I thought when I rounded up the courage to measure it. I mean I knew it was a good chunk, but somehow its limp form piled up on the floor made the actual length deceiving. If I had known it was six whole inches I would've stopped immediately. That's not something you can just spring on a girl.

But Cindy did when she flatly announced, "Well, it's too late now," as her wielding scissors continued to attack the only stability in my life: my hair. With six inches of my golden tresses stuffed inside a Zip lock bag as a souvenir to go, I had to wonder, had I truly lost everything?

The hair, as it was known, had an identity of its own. I was merely the girl that belonged to the hair. True, it was a love hate relationship, but I didn't mind sharing the limelight if it meant I could give an extra flip, knowing that sliver of superiority could make all the difference. Breakups, death, war, whatever, it didn't matter because I always knew I would at least have my hair and the daily admiration that went with it.

So imagine my initial shock when Cindy so brazenly offered her opinion on the fashion In's and Out's of hairstyles and not so subtly noted that the Crystal Gale look has come and gone. "You need a good healthy cut." In complete Marcia Brady mode, I was ready to slap my friend silly and exclaim, "Cut my hair!!!" Six inches later, I guess she did.

Even after assuring me that the tips of the golden locks still hit at the sexy below bra and nipples length, not even Cindy could have predicted the rippling wave she was about to set forth unto the world.

After a restless night pondering the question, will they still like me, I knew I would have to brave the treacherous waters and, indeed, see if they would still like me. I wasn't going to walk into that lion cage without a fighting chance though. I wore my brand new, sparkling Amethyst necklace for distraction -- which, seemed to work, but my temporary naïveté couldn't mask the reality of the power of the hair. While standing in the cafeteria line, slowly, the uprising of audible gasps and mutterings such as "but it was so pretty" sent my already fragile ego into overdrive. Okay, it was one gasp and one muttering, but it was all the confirmation I needed that my life was over.

Seeking comfort, I phoned my father, a man's man who surely would find my inner beauty stronger than the hair. But upon hearing of his darling daughter's hair being brutally attacked, he suddenly became in-tune with his feminine side and nearly broke into tears. He threatened to take a pair of his own scissors to the supposed friend who committed the crime, as if he knew he would never get his only daughter married off now. And after a male coworker disappointedly blurted out in the hallway "damn, your hair is short!", indirectly revealing that his toilet visits would be consumed with Victoria Secrets catalogs once again, I raced to the nearest mirror for an hour-long session.

Am I nothing more than a 5'4" hair follicle? And if hair was so important in determining a person's significance and a man's quality of fantasy, then why were my arm hairs not treated with the same respect? Sadly, after various hair flips and poses, the mirror did not provide any answers.

After receiving a much needed compliment from the third-floor receptionist and Cindy fending off my father's threat by reminding me that men truly do not understand measurements, particularly in inches, I started to accept my new fate. But this yo-yo lifestyle of "we like" vs. "we don't like" was going to have to stop.

When I returned home from the trenches, I decided to face my fears head on and get a grip, if not for me, for everyone else. I marched into the best-lit bathroom in the house and confronted the mirror for the last time. I stared that sucker down until all it had left to reveal was a pink stain on the shower curtain and an unsightly ring around the sink. Squinting menacingly, as an out of place tumbleweed blew behind me, I shouted at that mirror in my best Clint Eastwood voice, "I am more than my hair!" The mirror, completely dumbfounded, had no response. Or perhaps it just didn't care. Mirrors have that kind of indifference about them.

Admiring my renewed interpersonal strength, not to mention the added volume to my hair, I suddenly began to look at this shearing of my soul not as yet, one more tragedy to hit this nation, but rather a Phoenix rising: a symbolic gesture for releasing my demons and starting anew. A calming sense of freedom fell over me. Could it be possible that the weight of the world had resided in those last six inches? Did Cindy, in her attempt to make me the InStyle girl of the month, actually contribute much more to society than ridding us of unwanted split ends?

While I knew Janis told us after Bobby McGee left, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, I also knew I still had at least a foot and a half of something to lose, and perhaps here, at the crown, was where the focus really should be.

After one more confident flip for the road, I turned off the bathroom light and headed toward my bouncier and healthier future, leaving behind six inches, but taking a whole new perspective not to mention, the comfort of knowing that my hair grows back fast.


Shannan Keenan is a writer and filmmaker living in Southern California with her dog, three horses, and luscious long blonde hair. Through her production company Just Hank Productions, Shannan wrote, directed, and produced the critically acclaimed independent feature LOAVES. Shannan's current script RANDY, about a 40-year-old Kansas dishwasher searching for the meaning of his life, has placed in several screenwriting competitions, thus, once again proving that Shannan is the voice for loser men of all ages. www.justhank.com

Other work in HW by Shannan Keenan: Dear Brian a love letter to Denver Broncos Quarterback Brian Giese.

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