Da Long an’ Da Short


Story by Kathy Collins | Illustration by Matt Foster

Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:

cutting hair with tita

Hard fo’ balieve, I been doing dis back-page column fo’ one year awreddy. You like know my fav’rite part? Da illustration. Da firs’ time I seen myself as one comic book charactah, I was all t’rilled. I get my own personal portrait artis’ who make me look mo’ good dan how I look fo’ real. (T’anks, eh, Matt-chew!)

Go ‘head, check out da pick-tcha. . . . You notice anyt’ing diff’rent? Dass right, I wen’ cut my hair. Was hard, you know; evah since high school, I been keepin’ my hair Hawaiian style, long an’ loose. Excep’ fo’ one time, right befo’ I wen hanau (give birth to) my boy. I thought would be mo’ bettah fo’ da bebe if my hair no was hangin’ in his face ev’ry time I pick ‘em up.

Too bad I nevah listen to my Filipino friends. They said you not s’pose to cut yo’ hair when you hapai; bum-by yo’ bebe goin’ be born bolo-head — no mo’ hair. I only went cut mine halfway, from waist level to shouldah-lent’; dass why my boy wen’ come out only half bolo-head, wit’ one bebe Mohawk. Took almos’ one year fo’ da res’ of his hair grow out on da sides.

Hawaiians too, they no cut their hair when they hapai. Bad luck. I donno da whole story, but I know going be mo’ worse dan jus’ one bolo-head bebe. Not only dat, any time you cut yo’ hair, no mattah if you hapai or not, you gotta be careful how you t’row ‘em away. If da wrong kine guys get a hold a yo’ hair or yo’ fingahnail clippings, they can make you sick. ‘Or, mo’ worse, ma-ke die dead. Dass what da kahuna ‘ana‘ana, whatchoo call “sorcerer,” used to do in da olden days, pray people to deat’. They would use somebody’s fingahnails an’ hair like bait fo’ da evil spirits, an’ den when da spirits come, da kahuna ‘ana‘ana sic ʻem on da poor victim.

Even when you comb yo’ hair an’ get couple, t’ree loose ones come out, you gotta put ‘em in da rubbish can yo’self. No jus’ t’row ‘em to da wind; you donno who goin’ catch ‘em. Same t’ing wit’ da hair dat stay colleck’ on top yo’ hairbrush.

Us locals, we get plenny rules about cutting hair. Some Japanese say you bettah not cut yo’ hair inside da house, nighttime, ‘cause dat goin’ bring any kine ghosts inside. Odda guys say dass bull lie; da only t’ing goin’ happen is you goin’ get bad dreams. Whichevah one, no mattah to me; I no take no chances. I no even pluck my eyebrows nighttime.

Da Chinese get da mos’ rules. Like if you cut yo’ hair on your birthday, you goin’ cut off years from yo’ life. Grownups not s’pose to get bangs, ‘cause da hair hangin’ ovah yo’ forehead goin’ block yo’ brain from hittin’ full capacity. Bangs is okay for kids, but, ‘cause they no use their brains anyways.

An’ da mos’ important one: No can cut yo’ hair da whole first week of da New Year, ‘cause dat goin’ cut off yo’ good luck fo’ da whole year. I donno if dat count fo’ Janarary or jus’ fo’ Chinese New Year. But either way, I hope you reading dis in time, in case you was planning fo’ start da new year wit’ one new look like me. Make sure you wait ‘til New Year’s pau. I wen’ cut mine way befo’ Christmas, an’ not on my birt’day. In da daytime, of course.

Happy New Hair! I mean, New Year!


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