Pixie in Pink
It was a beautiful three-piece outfit. The underlying top was sleeveless and cropped short. It was capped with a matching long-sleeved jacket and sprinkled with appliquéd flowers. The pleated skirt fell to just above my scabby knees and bruised legs, remnants of outdoor play where I typically wore cut-off jeans and hand-me-down shirts. The whole shebang was a shocking hot pink bright enough to compete with the most richly dyed egg in my basket. I felt like a princess as I flounced into church on Easter wearing my new ensemble.
I adored that outfit almost enough to forgive Mama for her unfortunate decision made days earlier. Winter was loosening its grip, and spring heat was rising. That was part of the reason why Mama took me to a stylist and had her whack off my long, unruly locks into a close-cropped pixie cut. The bribe of bangs brought me on board for the new style. Besides warming weather, Mama sold that pixie cut hard because she had grown weary of daily battles to comb hair that was so tangled my siblings nicknamed me “Mrs. Tumbleweed.” To this day, I remain the only grandchild among the seven of us that ever pushed our gentle, Atticus Finch-type grandfather into threatening a spanking. Granddaddy reached the end of his patience after I pitched a fit when my grandmother tried to detangle the nest that was my hair.
The pixie cut eliminated the snarling in my hair but it was still awful. While the short style looked good on some people, on me it accentuated my nose, which I perceived as a gigantic vast expanse that swamped the rest of my face. Even my wished-for bangs turned out to be a mistake, riding off my forehead in a perpetual flipped-out wave due to my hair’s natural curl. I cried for days after my clipping, feeling about as vulnerable as a newly shorn sheep. I stuck a red crochet hat on my head and wore it to school after my haircut despite the spring weather. When I boarded the bus to ride home, a curious high school jock noticed my wintry cap and yanked it off. “Aw, she’s been scalped!” he yelped. The bus roared with laughter.
Despite my hairstyle, I felt great in my beautiful new outfit. After Easter Sunday, Mama even allowed me to wear my dressy ensemble to school in the waning days before our summer break. I was strutting around in my pink frock like a peacock when disaster struck. Feeling the pull of spring, my best friend Mary Ann and I failed to curtail our energy once recess ended and classes resumed. Our bubbly spirits led to running in the classroom; our teacher was not amused.
“Which one of you wants to go first?” she asked. These were the days of corporal punishment. Later that day, I hung my pretty pink outfit in my closet and glared at it, unreasonably blaming it via association for the day’s downfall. Like a forgotten Easter egg, the suit’s hot pink magic had turned rotten. “Don’t you want to wear your Easter outfit?” Mama asked when my formerly favorite costume continued to gather dust. “Uh, not today,” I muttered.
Day after day that spring and summer, I pushed aside the pink get-up and looked bleakly at my closet, reverting to my cut-off jeans and hand-me-downs, and watching my hair slowly grow from its military-style crew cut. Come fall, though, Mama purchased just the thing for a back-to-school boost. Buttoned with oversize tortoise-shell buttons at each shoulder, my new jumper added pizazz to the flowered blouse I wore underneath. But what made the dress extra-special was what it was made from: genuine (well, close enough) brown leather.
Farewell, pink – that dress made me feel like a rock star.