Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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The Haircut

By Deborah Barchi

What I want you to do is to cut my hair so that it makes me look thinner and prettier and somehow different; not that I am saying I’m not happy with myself, but everyone wants to improve something about themselves, don’t they, even if they don’t admit it the way you don’t admit that you really don’t like your sister, even though she is your sister, and blood is supposed to be thicker than water, although what water has to do with blood I don’t know; so many of those old sayings make no sense like “you can’t have your cake and eat it too, ” which is stupid because why have cake at all if you can’t eat it; I mean, are you just supposed to stare at it and salivate and suffer and offer it up to God, like we were told to do in Catholic school by the nuns when anything bad happened, offer it to God, or the Virgin, or the Pagan Babies; and, by the way, I always thought it was mean of God to make the Pagan Babies, who died without being baptized, stay in some sort of purgatory, like a non-ending-poor-quality day care center where no one ever touched them or played with them or made them feel like they were worthwhile, just because their parents were too stubborn or too stupid or too something to get them baptized, because the babies couldn’t help it, could they, so why should they be stuck there forever; I always felt disappointed in God about that, but that is something else you don’t want to admit, at least not to a nun, not if you value your knuckles or the palms of your hands which the nuns seemed to feel were fair ground for whacking with a ruler; you learn early to at least put on the appearance of believing what they tell you and to keep your doubts to yourself, but it wears you down, never being quite honest about things, and it spills over, doesn’t it, to other parts of your life, and you wonder, after a while, are you ever honest about anything, with anyone, ever, or have you learned to be good at being what others want you to be; and you wonder why it should matter to other people what you choose to do or believe or look like, and I suppose that’s why it’s wrong for me to ask you to make me look thinner or prettier, so maybe we should skip the haircut; but since I’m already here, do you think you could cover some of this grey and make me look younger, and, while you’re at it, maybe you could trim my bangs?

Deborah Barchi is almost as neurotic as the protagonist in The Haircut, although to most people she appears to be a calm and competent librarian. A native Rhode Islander, she has all the annoying characteristics of Rhode Islanders: Dropping her “r’s,” giving directions based on where something used to be, insisting that noodles be called pasta, but probably none of the endearing ones, whatever those might be.

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