Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Story About Hair

Now that everybody has met my new haircut, I will regale you with yet another story about hair. When my sister was 19, she met a thirty-one-year-old guy. Let's call him Carlos. My sister had been living with me since she was sixteen, so I understandably felt responsible for her.

One day she went on a date with Carlos. A short time into the date, she called me on the phone. She was crying so hard that she could hardly speak. 

"Carlos is soooooo mean," she sobbed. "I can't believe he did this to me."

When I heard that, I imagined every single horrible thing that a 31-year-old man can do to a 19-year-old girl. My heart plopped into my stomach and my hands started shaking. I tried to control my terror, however, in order to avoid traumatizing the child even further.

"What. . . did. . . he. . . do. . . to. . . you?" I managed to squeeze out of myself.

"It's horrible!" she wailed. "I don't even want to say!"

I saw images of hospitals, police stations and myself assaulting Carlos with a chainsaw flash before my eyes.

"He went to a salon and got this horrible haircut," my sister continued.

"And??" I asked, shaking in terror.

"You wouldn't just say 'And?' if you saw how ugly this haircut is!" she responded indignantly. "It's hideous! I can't believe he did this to me! Now I have to put up with it until his hair grows back."

My sister and Carlos have been together for almost 10 years. They are still looking for a salon that will do justice to his great hair.


Rimi said...

I'll wait to see if you get any comments on the age difference. I've been rather startled by the abusive assumptions people made about my relationship because my partner was two decades older than I am, and I want to see if that is a popular prejudice.

Spanish prof said...

My husband and I decided to get marry and did it three weeks later. We had only been dating 11 months. So my parents decided to come to the wedding to meet for the first time my future husband. They were scheduled to come the day before the wedding. A few days before, B. (my now husband) decides he needs to get a hair cut so that he looks "presentable" to his future in-laws. I looked at him and just said: "If you want to trim your hair, go ahead. But don't cut it too short. My parents hate it, it reminds them of the military and everything they went through during the dictatorship". Talk about a different culture! B. decided to leave his hair in peace.

Clarissa said...

I brought her, so I saw her as a little child for a very long time. :-) It's a motherly instinct, not prejudice. :-)

Normally, in relationships with a huge age difference I'm more likely to suspect the younger part of being abusive. Not in your case, of course.

Rimi said...

Oh, I don't mean you, Clarissa. The overwhelming number of young people being sexually abused by older partners makes one instinctively wary of such situations. I meant social taboos against such relationships. I've been called both a gold-digger (by people who knew my partner was impoverished) and citizenship-seeker several times for being in an 'age inappropriate' relationship. A man I'd just been introduced to asked me over dinner, "So you didn't know he was almost broke when you got into this, hmm?"

Most people either framed it as a joke ("Are you one of those gold-diggers we hear so much about?" nudge-nudge, wink-wink), or as their right as morally upstanding men and women to call out a sneaky transgressor and shame her publicly (or so it comes across, anyway). My friends roommates belonged to the latter category. They told her boyfriend that they thought his mother was a prostitute, because she had willingly accepted an arranged marriage with a man thirty years her senior, according to the custom of her tribe.

I was, frankly, *appalled* at the crass moral righteousness about age difference that led these little 'conservative' worms to call a man's mother a whore to his face for being married to his father. But I was informed my other mildly uncomfortable guests (the exchange took place at a party) that the roommates had "enough reason" to make that judgement.

The ways in which we police ourselves, dear lord.

Clarissa said...

How horrible. I know what you experienced because people keep wanting to see me as a mail order bride no matter what I do.

As for arranged marriages, what people don't realize about them is that in cultures where it is an accepted practice, marriage has a very different meaning and fulfills a very different set of goals. It makes no sense to judge the practice of a completely different culture unless you really understand what it is about.

Rimi said...

Quite. And frankly, I think sexual attraction is not as intrinsically related, if at all, to emotional connection. I've at least twice been incredibly -- and incredibly temporarily -- attracted to men I'd toss over the boundary-wall of my emotional life. So basing a legal relationship that dicates merging and sharing of assets and joining of families based on who I want in my bed (or on other pieces of furniture) is not, perhaps, the soundest decision.

Then again, most cultures no longer explicitly see marriage as a socioeconomic partnership, but as a culmination of love and sexual attraction (this view drops off by the time they reach the divorce courts, obviously).

The point is, these people "fell in love with" and married at incredible speed, a very well-off banker and a surgeon. Of course, because they didn't have such a huge age difference, no one questioned this marrying-money conduct.

P.S: when people think you're a mail-order bride, you might take it as a compliment. Clearly they see you as very sexually desirable, but quite unattainable by someone like them.

Clarissa said...

In my opinion, an overwhelming sexual passion is the only basis for marriage. As to joining assets and families, these things are not necessary any longer. :-)

Rimi said...

Good lord, Clarissa, NO! An overwhelming sexual passion is a basis for a great deal of hopefully fantastic sex :D

Marriage, I hope, will always be the result of overwhelming sexual passion plus [insert personal criteria of choice]. If I have to marry someone I'm incredibly attracted to to satisfy that attraction, I think part of that attraction will die right there :-( Good sex is a necessity, but comes at too high a price if I have to legally bind myself to someone to get it.

Clarissa said...

I'm not imposing my vision of this on anybody, God forbid. But I believe that the existence of passion makes all of the partner's qualities seem like this is exactly what you have always needed (even if that couldn't be further from the truth.)

Of course, I'm not suggesting that people get married in order to satisfy sexual passion. I think proceeding to sex as soon as possible is the way to go. :-)

Time will tell if I'm right in this theory. :-)

Rimi said...

"But I believe that the existence of passion makes all of the partner's qualities seem like this is exactly what you have always needed (even if that couldn't be further from the truth.) "

You know, looking back, I must concede you're right.

"I think proceeding to sex as soon as possible is the way to go. :-)"

That's my personal modus operandi and it has never let me down. I don't mean to dismiss people who put sexual compatibility last, but to invest emotionally in a possible partner and THEN find out you're sexuall incompatible must be terrible.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually surprised there wasn't a troupe of people crawling out of the woodwork to tell you how horrible are relationships in which there is any age difference. You seem to have driven away most of those types, fortunately.

My partner and I have only a seven year difference, and that has been questioned though it is quite a small difference.

I even met an 18-year-old woman recently and we both agreed that if not for me being with someone and various complications in her life*, we probably would have been a couple. That would have been a 16 year age difference.


*I am very happy with my life and my partner also reads this blog and she has no problem with two adults discussing whatever they'd like in case anyone was wondering.

Clarissa said...

My sister and "Carlos" have been together for almost 10 years and are blissfully happy. Their 12 year difference has not been a problem.

It's very weird, in my opinion, to predict a couple's unhappiness based on such a formality as age. Emotional age, intellectual age and chronological age are not very related, in my opinion.

But it seems like we only have people in healthy relationships hanging around this blog recently. And such people have no need to rely on such formal criteria for happiness.

Anonymous said...

We did finally find the perfect salon! They charge $75 for a man's haircut, however, which is ridiculous, but you cannot put a price on perfection. :) And my peace of mind!