Upsherin’ Some Secrets

After a pretty dismal morning and an afternoon in which I mostly sat in bed and felt sorry for myself, I went out to Chabad for a ceremony that does not occur very often: the upsherin. For those of you unfamiliar with what that is, it is a ritual that occurs on a boy’s third birthday. According to Jewish tradition, the age of three is the threshhold for the transition from babyhood into childhood, and in honor of that, the child receives a special prayer, reads the Hebrew alphabet while licking honey off of a sheet of paper (to show that learning should always be sweet), and most of all, gets his first haircut, at which point he will start wearing a yarmulke like all other Jewish boys. It’s rare because it only happens in the most religious of communities, and only for boys. For the record, I did not have one.

And then there’s the part where we throw candy at the kid. Yes, I kid you not, a Jewish tradition involving potentially mauling very young children. But mostly, today’s celebration was tons of sweets and candy, most imported from New York, and a ton of food. The weather was beautiful, and with most people finished for the semester, the atmosphere was relaxed. I had a little surprise of my own: seeing one of my cousins, his wife, and their baby girl, who came to town for the weekend from Evanston, Illinois.

I left before the hair-hacking began, but with hair on my mind (no pun intended?), I thought I would let you in on a few secrets about myself.

The Secret Code of What It Means When I Touch My Hair

I tend to touch my own hair a lot. I like it when other people touch it as well. I don’t know why, but it’s soft and shiny and fun to play with. I used to brush and comb it obsessively, even during class, to keep it extra soft, leading to earning “Feathers” as one of the few nicknames I’ve had in my life, thanks to a friend in Israel. Different situations, however, cause me to interact with my hair differently, so here’s how you can tell how I am feeling by touching my hair.

Curling a tendril in the front: I’m bored. If I’m in class, I’m imagining I’m elsewhere. If you’re talking to me, I’m not listening. Or, I’m frustrated.

Curling a tendril at the top of my head: I’m attracted to you, so I’m making myself seem dumber than I actually am. I am pretending to mask it as something nonchalant, but I’m just channeling my pent-up sexual energy so I don’t jump your bones. Or, I’m trying to be flirtatious with you. Aren’t I flirty?

Curling a tendril at the nape of my head: Gee, my hair is getting kinda long, as in Shelley. I better cut it soon, but before I do, I wonder what it would be like if I were a girl. Would I be straight, or a lesbian? Hmm.

Sweeping my hair behind one ear, no matter the length: I’m trying to be cool or sophisticated, or make you think that I know something you don’t know.

Sweeping my hair behind both ears, in quick succession: I’m doing something really difficult, and I want you to see how awesome I am. I’m in focus and in charge. Bitches get shit done.

Whole head sweep: I’m tired, and you’re bothering me, so go away.

Head pat: Don’t tawk to me, Linda, I’m having a bad hair day.

That’s all I can think of for now, but hair you are.

Pun intended.