He’d been growing it out since he was a boy.
Convinced by all manner of youthful observation he was sure that every superhero, every leader, looked different that other people. A cloak, underwear on the outside of the pants, a mask, these were all too different, too inaccessible and startling for people here to handle. At age eight he reached the uncomfortable dilemmic of both wanting to be different (hopefully, in a good way) and fit in. These thoughts worried him. Like the wool sweater his mother made him wear in winter, it worried, but deep under the skin prickling up to match their wool counterparts pressing in.
After much thought, he boiled it down to having one thing, a single physical characteristic, that would set him apart. Something that could be hidden if desired. Something that only hinted that he would be different than the other boys. A costume wouldn’t do. He only had two shirts; kept in a constant laundering cycle by his tsk-ing mother. A talisman was too unwieldy. Especially since he lost a pencil as often as he used one and forgot his wool sweater swinging on the back of his chair at school, and lent his books, but forgot to remember who he’d lent to. No, that would not do. Besides, it had to be him that was different. Therin lay the problem. He was an exceedingly normal looking eight year old boy in an exceptionally normal, if small town.
But one day, he knew that would all change.
He had feared the glint of his mother’s scissors since his first haircut. Now it was time for a “trim”, his mother said. She sat him down on the bathroom counter after school. She set out sheets of newspaper. Licking the tips of her fingers she separated the compressed pages, unfolding and then shaking them open with a quick flap of her arms before gently laying them across the bathroom floor as if making a bed for his hair.
Why not use sheets? he thought. But his mother, always fastidious, would have frowned at the idea of simply shaking the loose hair free and folding the sheet back up to be used later. She would have had to wash and dry the sheet, tsk-tsk-ing the whole time. And yet, looking around, he noticed how clean everything was, even in the bathroom. She was the one that kept everything so nice, he thought, kindly.
But as he sat thinking about his mother’s hard work, she had picked up the scissors and advanced on his lengthening bangs and for a moment it looked to him like a sword swung from out of the bathroom drawer. He balked, screaming.
Flinging his arms across his face and curling up in a ball on the counter as if in defense of his life he begged her not to cut him with the scissors. She looked down at him in surprise and dropped her scissors to the floor where they clunked softly on the layers of newspaper. His mother cooed at him, rubbing the sides of his arms that were still wrapped around his head. Slowly, she coaxed him to unwrap the turban of his arms from around the crown of his hair.
“There’s nothing to worry about.” she said. “It won’t hurt at all. Not even a little.”She knelt down to look him in the eye as she talked to him. pulling gently at his shielding arms until they dropped from his face. He gazed down at her with a look of outrage, but as he looked at his mother, squatting on the bathroom floor he couldn’t help feeling horrible. He could see the same look in her eyes, but misted over.
“Did you think I would hurt you, Samson?” she asked.
He could tell he had hurt her feelings so, reluctantly let her cut away at his hair, surprised to find that it didn’t hurt. Not the way he thought it would. It was the first time he had ever experienced regret. He couldn’t tell whether it was for making his mother feel badly or for the loss of his hair. It saddened him to look down at all the frayed bits scattered across the carefully laid out newspaper. But in the paper his mother had so carefully and neatly put down there were articles. Articles about the recent burning of the olive groves and the pictures of the flaming trees and burnt stumps became twisted around in the pieces of his fallen hair.
As his mother gathered up the news and the hair, wadding it up into a ball, she tossed it in the trash bin Samson felt wrong to so easily discard things that had been a part of us only a day ago.
That was the last time, he vowed silently to himself in the mirror. His pink cheeks, so recently covered in shameless childish tears stood out especially chubby, he thought, under the straight-edged snipped tips of his hair. All of a sudden, his teary eyes saw it. That was it! He just wouldn’t cut his hair anymore. He would grow it out long. From then on, his hair grew inch over inch, easy and comforting.