Let your hair down and enjoy

Let your hair down and enjoy

During the heat wave, I’ve spent some time going through notebooks and looking for ideas about staying cool… er, I mean staying inside and writing.

I enjoyed finding a draft from Nov. 5, 2020, about the expression “let your hair down.” At that point in the pandemic, I had been growing my hair out since missing my “scheduled” haircut in mid-March,

(Scheduled for March 2020 — I didn’t know I could write comedy!)

I’ve never been a fan of haircuts. I remember my dad’s reaction to news that I’d had a haircut: “Which one?”

Back in high school, the last time my hair was as long as it was by the end of 2020, I learned the comfort of “letting my hair down” because I practically had to keep at least part of it pinned up.

One sloppy morning without a comb or barrette to hold up the hair over my left ear meant it would be dangling within range of my fingers during orchestra rehearsals (the first period of every day of high school for me). One time catching my hair under my fingers as they moved on the cello’s strings meant not only messing up the music and getting angry looks — it meant fighting a headache for at least part of the day.

So even in high school, I knew that the expression “let your hair down” was a synonym for “relax” and “take it easy.” (I admit that it did sometimes mean that while I took care of my other homework, I didn’t necessarily put my hair back up to practice my cello — but I did, sometimes.)

By the time in 2020 that masks were recommended for public outings (as my November 2020 notes put it), I could just barely comb my hair back to get it away from tangling in the ear loops of masks. “Letting my hair down” became a daily part of taking my mask off. (I noted that “take your mask off” would be the 2020 version of the expression — which now I recognize could be the 2020s version, as in the decade.)

By summer 2020, combing my ears was a way to cool off, I reminded myself that November, so I didn’t necessarily take it down and make my neck sweat. Now, with my hair landing somewhere between my collarbone and elbows, I definitely put it up more often.

But when I want to relax with my cello, or even play some exercises, the left side definitely gets put up. Even with more length to work with, getting my own fingers to pull my hair does not produce sweet music.

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Margaret H. Laing

I moved to Chicago from the south suburbs in 1986. I have diverse interests, but I love writing about what I’m interested in. Whether it’s a personal interest or part of my career, the correct words to get the idea across are important to me. I love words and languages — French and Scottish words enrich my American English. My career has included years as a journalist and years working in museums, and the two phases were united by telling stories. I’m serious about words and stories. So here I am, ready to tell stories about words and their languages.

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