The night of Sept. 11, my daughter approached me with a hairbrush attached to her head.
Topics: Life News
On the evening of Sept. 11, my 13-year-old daughter, Ariel, sought us out in our bedroom with a hairbrush attached to the side of her head. It was on her left side, up near the temple, and it held firmly, a horizontal jut of black plastic like the line of a fraction separating the top of her head from the vertical flow of hair falling to her shoulders below.
“I can’t get it out,” she said to my husband, Paul, and me. We were sitting sideways on the edge of our bed facing a bureau just a few feet away where our television replayed the day’s disaster in rectangular inserts beside the grim faces of news anchors. I shifted reluctantly toward Ariel.
“I just kept turning and turning it,” she said, as I beckoned her into the light.
It was a brush she’d dug up from a basket in the bathroom, no more than eight inches long, solid black with a handle that tapered off to a rounded point. Its head was one of those with plastic bristles 360 degrees around, and it was this that Ariel had rolled into her hair to the point where its surface was now barely visible under the tangled dark brown mass.
I moved around to face her, tugging her closer between my knees. Our heads were at equal heights, and I arranged hers to better evaluate the situation. A three-inch square of hair was being gripped by the brush, pulled toward it from all sides like a magnet, securing it so that when I tried to jostle it free, it barely moved. On the television the planes pierced the towers once more, and the three of us watched in silence as the buildings collapsed yet again.
My plan was to remove the hair little by little until the brush was finally free, but my first attempts to untwist even a few strands proved futile, given the number of times they were wrapped around the brush. An application of conditioner did little to improve things. My arms were working meticulously at ear level and before long, they started tiring. We instructed Ariel to lie beside us on the bed, brush side up, and I turned to Paul.
We call on Paul when the fine gold chain of a necklace is discovered with a knot, when the strings of a beloved marionette are tangled, when the silver loops of a Slinky begin to overlap. So on the evening of Sept. 11, Paul redirected his attention from the television we’d been watching all day to the puzzle of his daughter’s hair. She lay on her stomach, head facing the screen, eyes full of worry, face distorting with each new tug.
The operation that followed took nearly two hours. Paul carefully moved small clumps of hair away from individual brush bristles while I snipped off as much of the plastic as I could. Our theory was that if we could obliterate the bristles, the cylinder that held them would simply slide away. Paul parted, I cut, one by one, half-inch by half-inch, while the brush seemed to loosen only minutely. But a three-inch patch of chopped-off hair was out of the question, so we added another infusion of conditioner and continued our project.
At 10 o’clock, we decided we’d removed enough hair from the brush that cutting the rest became a feasible, concealable conclusion, and with a few simple yet somehow anticlimactic snips, we released Ariel to survey the damage and hope for the best.
Today, on an early October afternoon that has bloomed with the leftover warmth of summertime, I see sprouts of short curls on the side of Ariel’s head where the brush had been lodged. They mostly blend in with the rest of her hair, which waves in shining ringlets toward the middle of her back. She is chatting happily on the telephone. The television has resumed its normal programming, still snowy, however, on those channels that had broadcast from the Twin Towers.
More Related Stories
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- Horrifying new trend: Posting rapes to Facebook
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Childhood ADHD linked to obesity in adulthood
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- Chicago man breaks world record with 48-hour Ferris wheel ride
- I will never be able to afford Angelina Jolie's mastectomy
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- GOP actually bullies an anti-bullying bill
- Georgian police slow to react to mob violence at gay rights march
- 1 killed in Oklahoma tornado
- Thousands treated for sexual abuse-related injuries in military
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11