It’s interesting how some things that people say just stick with you forever. Take, for instance, my Grandma. She was my dad’s mom and didn’t like being referred to as Grandma. So, the first grandkid she had called her G-mommy. She was far from gangsta, trust me.
Now, I’m sure G-mommy had a good heart. Well, I’m not really. You see, she was a persnickety old lady even when she was younger. My Grandpa, G-daddy (hilarious, right?) was a highfalutin oil exec with a corner office in downtown Houston. He kept G-momma well stocked with expensive shopping trips to New York City, diamonds and a new Cadillac every year. She was spoiled. Rotten.
When I was younger, my dad refused to have a real job. We hopped around from town to town, living in motels or cheap apartments. And quite often, we lived with the grandparents. I hated living with G-momma. It was a quiet house where kids weren’t welcome. There were a lot of expensive breakable things and nice furniture. I remember on more than one occasion where she demanded my brother and I get on the floor and pick the dirt and such out of the carpet because the vacuum made too much noise. Yes, that was the kind of lady she was.
After the end of my first marriage in 1994, the year after I graduated from high school, I had to live with G-mommy. My relationship with my dad was so strained that she was actually the lesser of the two evils. I was getting ready to enter the Air Force and only needed to stay with her for a couple of months. These months consisted of lectures, criticism and general disdain for my situation.
One day, as I was coming out of the bathroom from showering and getting dressed, she came at me with makeup. I hated wearing makeup and she was once a very attractive woman who lived in pancake and drawn-on eyebrows her entire life.
“Here,” she said as she shoved a bottle of concealer in my face. “You should use this to cover up those spots on your face.”
Those spots were freckles.
I took the bottle from her, walked back into the bathroom and promptly threw it in the trash.
A few days later, we were discussing basic training and what I needed to pack. We went through the list my recruiter provided and checked things off as we went. It was July in Texas and I knew it was going to be painfully hot. I had always worn my hair long, very long. Mostly because my dad refused to let me cut it. There was no way I could take this mop with me to basic training and manage to keep it up off my collar every day.
“I’d like to get my haircut before I go,” I told her.
“Really,” she said with a furrowed brow. “How short were you thinking?”
“Well, pretty short. I think it’s going to be too hot to manage all of this hair. I’d like to cut it at least to chin-length.”
“Hmmm…honey,” she said not so sweetly. “Your face isn’t pretty enough to pull off a short haircut.”
Wow. I had no words. I don’t even remember how I reacted, honestly. But what I do remember is that the week after I got to basic training, I cut it all off. I looked like Demi Moore from “Ghost”. Really, I looked like Demi’s little brother. It was an awful haircut and you know what the first thing my technical instructor, or TI (what we call a drill sergeant in the Air Force) said when she saw me?
“Airman! That is the stupidest fucking haircut I’ve ever seen! Get your ass up and go run a mile!”
But you know what? She didn’t say I was ugly. Even my TI had more compassion than my own family.
Wow. This is a powerful entry. And you know what? You’re awesome.
Thanks Heather! Means a lot to me.