Day #12 Scroll down for the previous days
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The First Pull (c)
by Janet S. Tiger
© Feb. 24, 2014 all rights reserved
(A girl comes onstage. She is a teenager, but is wearing a scarf that covers her hair almost completely. Of what is showing, she takes one of the strands and wraps it around her finger.)
Pain. How can one strand of hair cause so much pain?
But it can. (Very sad) And it does.
I remember once when I was babysitting. I was about 11, it was my first job, with my Aunt Bonnie. Her little boy, Jeremy, he was a good baby, but just before they came home, he woke up and started crying. By the time they got back, he was screaming like mad!
(Remembering) It was sooooo scary! I knew he didn’t have a temperature, and he wasn’t like throwing up or having a bad diaper, but I was walking him and I couldn’t get him to stop screaming!
I was about to call my mother and ask what to do when Aunt Bonnie came home. She was a tiny bit upset when she heard him yelling so loud, but she picked him up and walked with him for a minute and then she told me, ‘come here’ you have to see this…..
And she took off all his clothing – everything. A doctor had shown her what to do....how to check to see if there were like, any insects biting, or a rash, and to check every single part of the body.
So I looked with her, and whaddaya know? Wrapped around one of his tiny pinky toes….was one strand of hair!
It had cut off all the circulation to his toe and the toe was purple. Which was probably the reason he was screaming, Aunt Bonnie said. And she was right,... when she got the hair off his toe, he stopped yowling right away.
I never forgot that. Most people would think it was good to learn, but for me, it just showed me what I already knew – hair is bad.
I have always hated my hair. People who love their hair cannot understand this.
(Points to her head)
You were thinking the scarf was because of chemotherapy, right? Wrong. By the time I was 11, I’d already been pulling for a year – I have some hair left, but that’s only because……(hard for her to say)…only because I don’t know what I would do if I had nothing left to pull…..
Some girls I’ve talked to online, they do their eyebrows, not me. Not fun like from your head, long hair, hair you can save.
Pain and hair – it all comes together in such a nice tidy package.
And now my mother tells me if I pull any more of my hair, I won’t get to go to camp this summer and see my cousins. So even more pain!
(She looks at the hair she is playing with – should she do it?)
To pull or not to pull….that is the question. Whether it’s nobler to not pull and keep all the agony inside and or pull and be bald and not go to camp?
I remember the first time I pulled. It was after a particularly bad day. School had been really bad. I did not get onto the cheerleading squad. That was not a surprise, because nothing I do ever turns out good. Because I'm not that good at anything.
And one of the teachers I really liked, in English, Ms. Dunston, she took the special time to talk to me to say that my essay needed work. My favorite class, the one I usually get As in, she tells me I'm going to get a B on the essay unless I work harder. But I did work hard!
And then when I got home, it turned out we had to move because my Dad got some big job, so we had to pack everything up again and go someplace else where no one would like me.
You know that expression 'so mad I could pull my hair out'? Well, this has been around for a long time. And it happens like, all of a sudden, you just get so mad, so upset, so sad, you just start pulling.
I remember thinking it would hurt, but it doesn't. Now if someone else pulls your hair, like Bobby did when I was in third grade, that hurts. But there is no pain, none at all if you pull your own hair. At least no physical pain, just something deep inside your soul.
Do I remember the first pull? Yeah, but it was soon joined by so many more.....My parents didn't even notice the first couple of years...I mean, they see my hair is weird and I wear scarves, but I actually heard my mom say to one of her stupid friends that she was just glad I didn't dye my hair some weird color. She was....(says it with disgust)...happy. Happy I was going through my 'teenage rebellion years' with only this as a problem.
She's not so happy now. (Annoyed) My mom is so clueless! I mean I love her and all, but she tells me all I have to do is stop...(imitates mother) 'one pull at a time.' And the therapist has all kinds of great ways to help me. And they work.....if you do them.
There is one comforting thing, I suppose. The knowledge that I am not alone. That over the centuries, women have pulled out their hair, and now, right now, as you hear this, you probably know someone who is pulling. And you probably don't even know. You probably don't care, either, otherwise you would see that their eyebrows are always with heavy pencil, and they wear hats and scarves, and you never see them brush their hair in public - or wear scrunchies!
(She laughs, then she starts to cry, but stops herself.)
So, what do I do now?
(She hangs her head, and we see her take her hand and, as she starts to walk offstage, we see her start to pull)
Out, out, damned hair……
(She pulls and looks at the hair for a moment.)
I never liked camp that much anyway…..
(She exits. End of scene 1)
(I've been working on this concept for some time, from a story I heard, but never had put it on paper until now. I hope this will be the first one of a series of monologues that will be a one-act titled Trich or Treat - from the medical name for hair-pulling - trichotillomania. If you know someone who is doing this - there is a great support system online at trich.org)
Janet S. Tiger 858-274-9678
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983
Swedenborg Hall 2006-8