It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was – almost entirely – not my fault. If Diana Ross hadn’t been such a damn diva, none of this would have happened. I’m – almost entirely – sure of it.

Oh, Diana Ross isn’t her real name. Keep up, folks.

I think it was Whitney Houston’s birthday party – one of those whole-nine-yards, ordering Pizza Hut and sleeping over kind of deals. I. Was. Stoked. Had I even been to a real sleepover before? I’m not sure. I think this was about fifth grade, which sounds sort of late to be attending one’s first sleepover. But this is also the girl who didn’t watch MTV until she was probably 19.

Where was I? Right. Sleepover.

After we’d eaten our pizza and chased Whitney Houston’s little brother around the upstairs of their house for awhile, we settled down in the family room to decide sleeping arrangements. Whitney’s house was sick. She had one of those big-ass L-shaped sectionals, and we promptly began squabbling over who got to sleep on the sofa and who was stuck with the floor. We oh-so-generously allowed the birthday girl to sleep on the couch, leaving one coveted spot remaining. And I was this close to finagling my sleeping bag on the L…

Enter Diana.

“I have allergies,” she says dramatically. “I need to sleep above the floor.”

“Bullshit!” I cried. Well, I would have cried that if I’d cried such things as a ten year old. But I was thinking it, and instead probably responded with a “Uh, really?” I may not have swore back then, but I was still a smug little smart ass.

This is where Diana went into some detailed explanation about her being unable to breathe below sea level or some shit, getting every single other girl on her side in the process. I tried countering her arguments; at this point, I didn’t even care about sleeping on the couch – I just needed everyone else to know how full of shit she was.

I still lost.

The next morning, my parents and Brother arrived to pick me up. Overall, I did have a good time, and was all gush-y about ohmygosh how much fun I had. But I hadn’t really slept. And I was so fucking tired and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep in my own bed, curled up amongst my Garfield sheets.

But we weren’t going straight home. We were stopping at Sam’s Club first. Sigh.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I laid down across the rear bench seat of Juanita’s Bronco. Maybe I could just sleep for three or four seconds? Or wait in the truck while they picked up a pallet of coffee filters or whatever-the-hell was so urgent?

An impatient Get up, Julie answered my question.

So I lifted my head to get up.


What the fuck?

Why couldn’t I move my head?

Why was my head stuck?

Frantically feeling around, I discover that a chunk of my long, long hair is stuck.

In the clicky-end of the seat belt.

I gently tug my head to free myself. Nothing.

This is when I started panicking.

“No no no! It’s okay!” my parents are telling me, trying to get me to calm down. Why I freaked the fuck out, I’m not sure. “We’ll go inside and get some scissors!”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I howled (again: why? Did I imagine that my father would run into the Sam’s Club, bellowing for a pair of scissors? MY DAUGHTER IS A DUMB ASS WHO GOT HER HAIR CAUGHT IN A SEATBELT! SOMEONE BRING ME SCISSORS SO I CAN SET MY DAUGHTER’S DUMB ASS FREEEEEE! To this day, I have no idea).

I think my Dad was actually on his way into the Sam’s Club when I decided, screw it, and yanked my head up as hard as I could.

Juanita gasped.

Okay, so when I say “a chunk of hair” was stuck, I mean about a 1/2″ piece of hair. Like, many many strands.

WHAT DID YOU DO? cried Juanita, but I was suddenly calm. There, problem solved! It surprisingly hurt like hell, but I was free. Come back, Dad! No scissors needed! Let’s buy these damn coffee filters and go home, please!

YOUR SCALP IS BLEEDING! cried Juanita, and I touched a small, now-bare, spot on the top of my head.

Whoops. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that.

The entire time we were in Sam’s, Juanita kept inspecting my head, blotting it with tissues (yes, we still finished our errands. One minor head wound wasn’t going to come between our family and a 5-pack of Tombstone Frozen Pizzas). I can’t believe you did that! she said over and over.

“Yeah, me neither,” I said. “Is it obvious?”

“Well, your head is bleeding.” 

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I guess.


After we got home, Dad gave the seat belt a proper haircut. I can’t remember what it looked like with the entire chunk of my hair sticking out of it like some sort of mutant rattail, but I still remember how it looked for the next few years we had the Bronco: a little tuft of red hair, trapped forever in the corner of the seat belt.

“I used to rub it like a rabbit’s foot,” Brother told me a few days ago.

“That is so weird,” I said.

But, then again, so am I.








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