|Placeholder for The New Georgie Witherspoon|
Mother would not allow her children’s hair to be cut until they were thirteen years old. Up until then, they only got monthly trimmings to keep it neat. Except Georgie who banned people from touching her hair when she was seven.
But this hair wildness was getting out of hand. After a legitimate washing, Georgie would not brush out the tangles and her hair dried in the wildest knots that Mother and Moira would fix once Georgie was asleep. If she woke up, it was over. Mother put her foot down with what she thought was a reasonable compromise: Georgie was to have her hair brushed and pulled into a ponytail every morning; no ifs, ands, or buts. With the tangles out, it would make it easier to wash and maintain on her own.
Georgie balked at the idea of having her hair brushed for her when she didn’t like anyone touching her hair. She balked at the idea of having to get up earlier than she wanted when she wasn’t a morning person. She announced that if anyone came near her with a hairbrush, she would run and hide all day to avoid this hair invasion and the house was certainly big enough for her to hide without being found for a week if she wanted to.
Moira had an idea.
The morning following the lay down of the new law, she came into Georgie’s room with two pieces of buttered toast with cinnamon, a cup of ginger tea with lemon and honey, and a hairbrush on a tray. She gently tapped Georgie awake. She gave a grunt and a snort and sleepily and reluctantly sat up. She gave a groaning yawn and started to climb out of bed.
“Don’t get up,” Moira said. “You can stay in bed for a little while longer.”
Georgie looked surprised. “Really?”
“Really. I brought you toast and tea. The toast has cinnamon on it.” Georgie happily reached for the toast. Moira stopped her. She held up the hairbrush. “One condition. You have toast and tea while I do your hair with no fuss and fight out of you. If this hair brushing happens with any problems, there will be no toast and tea and I will wake you early every morning, lock you in this room, and watch you brush your hair until it’s right. And you can’t hide anywhere in this house a week. You tried it when you were two and you failed because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut. You still have this problem. Do we have a deal?”
Georgie took a moment to consider it. The sweet smell of the toast and tea won her over. She nodded, accepted her toast, and made room on the bed for Moira. Moira started at the very ends, gathering the hair in her fist and briskly brushed inch by inch all the way up to Georgie’s head. Georgie shuddered at first touch, but then relaxed at the first sip of tea.
“I can’t wait till I’m thirteen,” she grumbled. “I’m going to cut all of this hair off.”
“Oh yeah?” Moira asked, now gently brushing from the top of her head all the way to the ends. “How short are you going to go?”
Georgie shrugged. “Maybe like Elijah’s. I like that it’s short on the sides and in the back and a little long at the top. But I might even make mine shorter than his.”
“That’s pretty short.”
“Yeah. It’ll be easier to wash. And I won’t have to pull it back when I play basketball or lacrosse. Not that my hair gets in the way or anything, but it would be cool. And I’ll look more like one of the guys and they’ll stop treating me like a girl.”
“Nothing wrong with being treated like a girl,” Moira said, gathering up the hair and brushing underneath.
“There is when you’re playing sports,” Georgie complained. “Boys act like they are afraid to tackle you or come after you like you’re playing serious.”
Moira finished brushing as Georgie finished her tea. “Well that might be true, but I wouldn’t say that about you. I think the boys are afraid of you.”
Georgie’s eyes lit up as she finished the last of her toast. “Really?”
“Honey, I’ve seen you play. That time you tackled Joaquin when you all were playing touch football. I thought you broke something on him. And that dodgeball game, whew. The way you threw that ball, I was glad I wasn’t in it. And I knew how those people felt. I’ve had baby bottles thrown at me by you. You’ve got a left arm like a missile launcher.”
Georgie smiled sheepishly. “Sorry about that.”
“I’m over it,” Moira laughed. “I see the fear in those boys’ eyes when you show up to play. They look like they’re thinking “Oh my God, it’s her. I’m going to have to play like my life depended on it.”
Georgie laughed as Moira pulled her hair into a ponytail. “Well that’s it. Thank you for cooperating.”
“I guess it wasn’t so bad,” Georgie reluctantly admitted.
“Well just think, once you cut your hair, you won’t have to deal with this.”
Georgie looked disappointed. “You mean, you won’t do this anymore? No toast or tea? Or...or talking?”
“What for?” Moira asked, cleaning up. “Once you have hair as short as Elijah’s, you can sleep in then get up and run your fingers through it and you’ll be ready for the day.”
“But if I don’t cut my hair?”
“Then we can do this every morning,” Moira smiled.
Georgie has yet to cut her hair.