When I was in kindergarten, the family moved from Detroit to Lancaster. From dirty city, with all walks of life, to suburban whitebread PA. One early memory is from my new class. I recall it happened during recess, as we are all playing with toys inside, in our classroom. Two kids near me are playing with a wooden truck. I am still on the newer side of things, not really settled in to the whole new-school thing, so I’m pretty hesitant in finding someone or something to occupy myself with. I’m standing there, just a bit lost by myself.

One of the kids, David Cooper, a bigger little kid than most of the rest of us, asks in a mocking tone: Who cut your hair, a monster?!

Damn! That hurt. As a little kid, new and everything, that hurt. A monster! I guess the proper reaction, at least in hindsight, would be to jump him and make him apologize. But I was a meek little one, timid and not prone to fighting, even in self-defence.

What really hurt was that my dad cut my hair back then. I’d stand in the bathtub, naked, and he’d trim and cut my curly mess of a head. So as this other kid (I want to write “this little pr!ck”) gives me this dumb little-kid-comment, I am mortified, thinking about how lame my dad and I are, doing this haircut thing in the bathroom at home.

To make matters worse, I have different hair from just about everyone else. It’s curly, like afro-curly, not just wavy. And it’s red! Come on! How different do I have to be, new school and funny hair and everything, and this punk needs to make fun of my difference. This regular kid, with his regular hair, straight and brown and thin. So f-ing regular, so normal and regular.

Well, karma comes around as it will. When the day came for all of us to get our immunization shots, we filed into the nurse’s office, and I am scared. Oh, it’s going to hurt…But it didn’t, amazingly enough. I found myself just fine, no pain no worries. But next to me, on the other chair, David Cooper was bawling like a baby. Monster haircut, indeed! Take that, crybaby! (aw, you know, as a kid it’s all about getting even, so it helped me to feel better seeing him like that. nowadays, I’d reach out to him to offer some comfort…oh well, we take comfort where we can…)

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