I Always Wanted Long Hair by
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Hair

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1974, just before cutting my hair

I guess girls are supposed to have hair. I was born bald so my brother, five years my elder, called me “Boop-dy Boy”. He was confused. Eventually I grew hair, nice, shiny, straight, almost black hair. I always wanted to grow it long. My mother, for some reason which she never shared with me, wouldn’t let me, so I had the classic “Dutch Boy” bob as a child, though I craved long, flowing locks.

I learned to wash it from my father, using Prell; lovely, green, drop-a-pearl-in-it-and-watch-it-float-gently-to-the-bottom Prell Shampoo. I can trace the trajectory of my hair to the change in my hormones. With puberty came body and a slight wave to what was once perfectly straight hair. As I wrested control from my mother, I began growing out my hair. It took several years of bad hair looks (as evidenced by class photos from the era), but by about 10th grade I finally had hair long enough to call “long”. My mother hated it, told me derisively that I looked like Joan Baez. I don’t know what was wrong with that.

Then came “care”. I washed it on Sundays and Thursdays and learned to wrap it around my head, clip it and sit under the bonnet blow dryer all evening to get it straight and dry, as all girls did in the day. This was before hand-held blow dryers. My ritual could not be altered. My high school senior photo shows long hair, parted in the middle: perfection.

It stayed that way all through college, though by this time I did have a hand-held dryer. I would hang my head upside down to dry my increasingly long hair. It took a long time to dry my thick, long, dark hair, but was worth it. Senior year, my boyfriend and I bought a black and white TV for my dorm room and I would have the old Jeopardy day-time TV program on with host Art Fleming and Don Pardo as I hung my head upside down blowing my hair dry. But I never got to watch Final Jeopardy, as I had to leave for class.

I married right after graduation. Dan and I each put in $50 to buy that TV, so we had joint property. It felt like a reason to continue. Three months later, having started my first job and tired of constantly being carded in bars and liquor stores, I chopped off my lovely hair.

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Tags: long hair, Prell shampoo, growing hair, hair care
Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, well written


  1. Susan says:

    Long hair, parted in the middle. Ah yes, the signature style for those with straight hair. Yours was particularly flattering. I think there’s another story within this story..you learned to wash your hair from your father? Loved the reminder about the Prell commercial.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I was a very little girl (not with long hair) when my father taught me how to shampoo. This was the era when women went to the salon once a week to have their hair done. My mother never shampooed herself and never showered in her 97 years on this earth.

  2. Live Aloha says:

    Very similar story to mine. I think everyone used Prell – what a great ad campaign. I remember my friend and I comparing notes to how many times we had “lathered, rinsed and repeated”.

  3. John Zussman says:

    I want to hear more! Specifically, how did you feel as those long tresses hit the floor? Relieved? Ecstatic? Or did you take your head in your hands and cry, “What have I done?”

    I’d give a lot to be carded these days—even when I claim a senior rate!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I felt relief…it took so long to dry! Now it was light as a feather! I’ve been through many styles since then, am even growing it a bit longer again. I guess what goes around comes around. Someone in my Pilates class recently asked if I was “Betsy from Brandeis”? I replied I was and inquired to whom was I speaking. Turns out we were classmates. I didn’t remember her, but she says I look just the same!

  4. Constance says:

    I think it’s awesome that you looked like Joan Baez.

  5. rosie says:

    This story was very interesting to me since I had a similar experience with my mother and hair. She let go of the control button about the time I was 13 or 14 and until recently, I have mostly had long hair also. Good story. I hope to read more of them.

  6. Suzy says:

    Enjoyed your story. Amazing that your mother thought it was an insult to say you looked like Joan Baez. I would take that as the greatest compliment! I did the wrap-hair-around-the-head routine when I washed it too — I always described it as using my head as a giant roller.

  7. Wonderful depiction of the glorious love affair that women often have with their hair! So many contributors have given such honor and romance to the complex but worthwhile efforts to create beauty. I thank you ;-)!

  8. Gary Faules says:

    Just loved the story. My mother used a phrase, “The grass is greener on the other side.” Having grown up on a large ranch that also had cattle, that phrase resonated every time I watched cattle sticking their heads through a fence while attempting to reach something not otherwise accessible to them.

    Growing up with thick, curly, blonde hair, I always wished I had straight, dark hair. For as long as I can recall, every time girls would see my hair, they would start running their fingers through it and saying things like, “Oh my, what beautiful curls!” It was as an early age that I learned the duck & weave while trying to avoid the attention especially while using the word, “Curly.”

    Now some 50 years later I find myself regretting having not collected all those golden curls and locks which I would gladly reattach with some Elmers glue.

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