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     Volume 4 Issue 9 | August 20, 2004 |

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Slice of Life

The New Look
The Hubby Speaks-

Richa Jha

About two months ago, The Wifey went out of the house looking like herself but came back looking like someone else.

"Excuse me, do I know you? If I do, what have you done to your hair?"
"Why, how is it looking?" she asked me with a strange expression that had both the smugness of a self-assured temptress, and the tentativeness of a novice.
"But there's hardly any left on your head to appreciate," I freaked.

"Do you like it or not? That's all I want to know from you." I hate her when she bullies me like this, but there's little a man can do but to grin and answer.

"Do you really want to hear the truth?"
"But of course, dear."
"I think it makes you look like a tom-boy, and a school girl, at that. You have to learn to look your age, and this is hardly the way to do so."

"Is it looking good or not? The other women sitting in the parlour gave me an instant thumbs-up after the hair cut." From the stiffening of her tone, I could sense her unease at my frank opinion.

"Maybe. By itself, it does. But not on you. I mean, it does, on you too, but not in the way you ought to look now. You have to learn to age with grace.
"What with what? Age? Who says I'm old?"
"Hey, calm down. Just look at your contemporaries. Do you see the way they conduct themselves…?"

"Enough! I've heard it enough from you. Everyone I've met till now has liked this new cut, and therefore I like it too, and that is the end of the discussion. Too bad if you don't like it. And anyways, you should be happy. Now, you have a valid reason to look at other women!" I marvel at the way she just manages to dismiss me with her brusque reasoning.

The public reactions to her hair-cut ranged from shocked to congratulatory. When she went home for vacations, she joined her parents in Kolkata, where they too had come to attend a wedding in a friend's family. Had I not been witness to the incident, I would not have believed it, but I actually saw The Wifey standing unrecognised before her mother for a good half a minute, when someone else pointed out to my mother-in-law that this familiar person looked like her daughter! My MIL hugged her with brimming eyes and said, "Oh dear, you look just like you did in your school days!" So you see, I hadn't been off the mark in my initial assessment. They wiped each other's tears, and were soon surrounded by several other 'aunties' who have known The Wifey from her diaper days. They ooohed and aaahed at her new (?!!, women never tire of contradicting themselves!) look, and I could see The Wifey gloating. None of them, not one of them told her that at this age, she should start thinking about, perhaps, growing her hair. Only my father-in-law hugged her and said that long hair suited her better. I'm sure The Wifey chose not to hear those remarks.

Ah! Women and their preoccupation with looking younger. I can understand the urge to feel younger, by anyone, but look younger than you are, appear what you are not? Look at me. I am a middle aged man with no pretensions to hiding my paunch or colouring my greying hair.

But, as I said, this happened quite some time back, and between then and now, the Wifey's micro-miniscule strands have grown, and become a little longer than four inches each (so you can imagine how short they were two months ago, and therefore, if my reaction wasn't justified).

This morning, she walked up to me and demanded undivided attention. "Listen, I have to get my hair chopped today."

"Again?!!" at that moment it was clear to me how completely she disregards my sentiments. How can women just go ahead and do what they feel is right? Don't I eat what she gives me to eat? I don't shave my moustache because she wants it to remain. I don't question her. But Wifey? No, she has to do the opposite of what I want her to. "Please don't get them cut so short again."

"But I need to get these trimmed in any case."
"I don't see why. They look just the right size to me. Much better now that they've grown a bit."
"They look unruly, that's why."
"Okay, so just ask your parlour woman to chisel them at the tips, that's it."
"Parlour man. And no, I think I'll go for the previous cut again. He does a great job of it."
"But that's what you think".
"No, that's what everyone thinks too."

"Your vanity and foolishness makes you keep yourself surrounded by people who will never tell you the truth. Trust me, they're just being polite with you. And since we are at it, do you want me to be blunt with you?"

"Yeah, sure, go ahead, but it'd better be pleasant!"-- that same smugness that had annoyed me earlier.
"Look, I know the only thing that matters to you women is how you look to others, rather than how you feel yourself. The day you'll learn to dress for yourself is the day you'll grow closer in evolution to men. And since this is the only language you understand, let me tell you, that with this hair-cut, you look like the girl-next-door. So, rest assured, no man is going to look at you a second time."

The Wifey stood there stumped for a little while. I was convinced this logic had clicked!

A moment later, with the familiar haughty nod of her head, she said, "Big deal. Who cares what men think of my hair? They will look at a woman, irrespective of whether her hair is there or not. What matters is that this hair-style makes women do a double-take on me, and then rave about how brilliantly it suits me. Take it from me, Hubby dear. I know how difficult it is for a woman to appreciate something nice in another woman, and even more difficult to walk up to her with lavish praises. I am more convinced than ever that I have to go ahead with the same style."

As you can see, friends, she is still not doing it for herself, because she likes it…Why is it that for women, it is always, always, about what others think of them?


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