Hairy lies

A glance at the clock jarred me. I had to get changed and leave as soon as possible to make it back to the high school on time.

After donning a frumpy pink dress, I looked in the mirror. While not flattering, it didn’t reveal every roll of fat on my torso. A quick analysis of my cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose showed no new zits for once.

But then there was my hair. It hung limply around my face, still damaged from pointless junior high perms. It was oily, but there was no time to wash and dry it before the spring band concert.

I combed it, but that only accentuated the sheen. In the hopes of disguising it, I gathered my hair into a ponytail that I held together with a yellow rubber band. The band in no way matched my outfit, plus I could feel it tugging my hair and exacerbating my split end problem. But there was no time to worry about that. Besides, who would pay attention to me? Weren’t adults always assuring us teens that we are all too self-absorbed to worry about the appearance of others?

I breathed a sigh of relief when I took my seat in the trumpet section for the warm-up with minutes to spare. Our director led us through scales and then briefly reviewed trouble-spots in each tune. We were released from the stage while the other band took their places for the first half of the concert.

I probably should have supported the members of the other ensemble by finding a seat in the auditorium and listening to their performance, but I opted to follow the rest of the crowd and hang out in the band room.

I ended up in the band director’s office where some of the more popular students were gathered. I stood to the side hoping to appear nonchalant instead of desperate to be included. Band was a refuge for me. I felt like I belonged here, but that only worked sitting down and playing. Make me stand up and try to chat with the cool kids and I was the epitome of awkwardness.

From the other side of the office, one of the pretty flute players changed the topic.

“Did you see Cynthia’s hair?” she asked conspiratorially.

The group froze. Finally, one of the percussionists smirked and pointed at me. “Yeah, she’s standing right there.”

The flutist, blessed with thick, brown hair and flawless skin, had a flash of panic in her eyes.

“Oh, I’m so sorry Cynthia,” she said.

“That’s okay,” I mumbled before escaping the office.

I didn’t know where to hide. And, apparently, one does need to hide. Because the adults lied, and I should have known better. Of course, teens notice other teens, especially fat, ugly, unstylish girls like me.

Of course, I lied, too. I told that girl that I accepted her apology. The truth was I was too timid to stand up for myself.

And she lied as well. She wasn’t sorry she said it. She was only sorry that she got caught.


38 thoughts on “Hairy lies

  1. Gah. This put me right back in jr high, the worst place for teenage girls who don’t look perfect. 😦 My hair wasn’t so much a problem as my towering height, which there was nothing I could do about except slouch, and I still have back problems from too much slouching. I wish I could go back there and not care.
    Anyway, very well written!


  2. I was, and still am, utterly clueless about most comments made about me during junior high. But I was truly miserable and very shy, so it probably was sinking in on some level. Now, however, I’m clueless once again — most of the time. Sadly, I’m enough of a self-critic to make up for it!


  3. UGH I was SO so shy until about junior year in high school. I remember overhearing a conversation between my “best friend” and another friend about my mom having an affair with my brother’s hockey coach but that it was no excuse for me to suck at basketball. I actually tried to fake a broken arm after that, for real. I’d forgotten about it. High school girls SUCK.


  4. Teens can be so cruel and they make way to much difference when we are really all the same. Everyone has some quality they do not favor and in the scheme of things they really do not matter.


    1. I think picking on other people is like a drug-it’s a temporary high that makes us forget our own problems but doesn’t actually make our own issues any better. But we forget and try it over and over again hoping to numb our own pain. I’m not sure teens will ever stop being cruel.


  5. Man, people are jerks. I worry about this for my kiddo for so many reasons.

    For what it’s worth, even the “cool” kids in band were band geeks to everyone else. I know. I played tuba. 🙂


  6. I’m sorry to use this language, but what a bitch! But then again, it was high school. Our awkward, judgmental years. I mean come on, we all get oily hair. Once my friend asked me “is your hair wet?? it’s so shiny!” and I nonchalantly replied “no it’s oily. I haven’t washed it in two days.” And that was that. This was just last month- as we grow older we are much more understanding and we don’t put as much effort into making ourselves look good. Or is that just me?

    You speak the absolute truth when you say she is sorry she got caught. I hope she felt horrible.


  7. You captured the feeling of high school awkwardness perfectly. I had some good times in high school – most of them in band, but man, could it be tough too. The mean girls. Ack.


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