Bowl Cut

I always love hearing the stories from my parent’s childhood. You know those stories they share around the Thanksgiving table or their relatives share for them (when that happens it’s like looking at your parents for the first time…who is this person that has been raising me!!???).  Those stories are the kind that never get old, no matter how many times they are shared. They become an important part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, and if they weren’t told it would be like having Thanksgiving meal without having any turkey.

This is a funny story I just love that my Mom tells every year.

Growing up my Mom lived in a run-down neighborhood in the mid-west which, when I was little, sounded like it was filled with endless adventure. Now that I am older, and have been given the “grand tour” it actually was a scary place to live. Random mobile homes are burned throughout the neighborhood and for the longest time there was no police force whatsoever. Any way, back to my story. My Mom came from a huge family (she had 9 brothers and sisters!). My Mom was second to youngest with the sister she was closest to, Candy, coming in last just a year younger than my Mom.

“Pat!!!!” Patricia jerked her head up at the sound of her Mother’s stratchy voice coming from somewhere inside their small house. The house was painted the exact same color of her Grandmother’s coffee after she had added what her Grandpa referred to as “an ungodly” amount of cream. There were tall green weeds surrounding the edges of the house, and paint the was peeling off the sides. Patricia froze, her fingers still deep in the mudd she had been using to mold into a cake. She was a good 200 feet away from the house, the wind was blowing, the neighbor was mowing the lawn and yet her Mothers voice managed to carry out practically drowning out all the other noises. “Pat!!!Get inside now!” She bellowed.

Pat, they all called her Pat for some reason. It was a family thing, no one was called by their actual name. Barbara was Barb. Jonathan was Johnny. Patricia was Pat. She hated being called Pat. Wasn’t it a boy’s name? Her Mother called again, but Pat remained still. She couldn’t make her feet go to the house, not yet. She knew what was coming and if she could hold off the inevitable for at least a few more minutes, she would. She wiped the mud off of on of her hands onto her jeans and then touched her dark brown hair.

“PPPPAAATTTTRRIIIICCCCIIIIAAAAA! Patricia Denise Borets, you get in here NOW!”

Pat felt her hair once again and there it was! The bubblegum. Who knew that gum could become a permanent fixture in your hair? She and her sister, Candy (sort for Cassandra) had just been having fun trying to blow the biggest bubbles in the world. Pat wasn’t even sure how the gum ended up in her hair and in her sister’s hair…but there it was, creating a giant tangle.

Pat turned away from the house, devoting her full attention back to her mud pie. A few minutes passed of silence. Maybe her Mom gave up after all. Pat knew that wasn’t true. She would be sending out a “messenger” (aka one of the other kids) to go and retrieve Pat at any moment.

“Pat,” came a quiet, almost feeble voice. The voice of someone who had just endured something awful. It was the messenger.

Pat turned around and stared at Candy. Her nine year old sister’s once long, golden locks were no where to be found. Pat gasped. Her hair was cut like a gross boy’s hair.

“Mama says you better come inside, it’s your turn,” Candy said quietly. Her eyes were puffy and swollen from crying.


When Pat got inside her Mother had her sit in a chair by the kitchen sink. She was muttering how she didn’t want to do this, but she had- had it! The girls were too rambunctious and their hair was constantly tangled and the gum was too high up to do anything other than cut it very short. She grabbed a bowl that was normally used to eat corn flakes out of and shoved it onto Pat’s head. She took her scissors and, using the bowl as a stencil, cut Pat’s hair off.


A few days later, Pat and Candy sat in the front row at the little Baptist Church down the road. Their Mother and Dad sat several rows behind them, melting into the congregation. For little kids something about being “in the front” that makes you feel utterly important. Like you are number one. It doesn’t matter if it is the front pew of church, the front of a line, the front of a roller coaster seat, the front of the car-sitting in the front is a symbol that you have arrived.

The pastor was known for his abilities to put even the most hyper and caffeine filled people to sleep. His voice was like the ocean, rolling back and forth, slowly creating a melody. For Pat and Candy, a single sermon felt like a life time. Since they were in the front row, away from their parents, they decided to occupy themselves with poking each other and giggling at the people falling asleep in the choir chairs.

Their giggles became louder and louder with each poke and point. Suddenly, Mr. Strombly, a member in the choir started to head nod. His eyes looked like they had weights on them, pulling them down and down. Then Miss Tilda’s head went backwards and her mouth hung open. Pat and Candy laughed and then Candy imitated Miss Tilda dramatically, making Pat laugh so loudly several people around them woke up. The room began to stir.

The pastor paused and stared stone faced at the girls.

Suddenly, he seemed like a different person, with emotions and feelings.  He said angrily, “If those two BOYS in the front row don’t stop goofing off I will have a word with your parents, young men.”

Pat and Candy looked around for the boys he was speaking of. There was no one else sitting in either front row. Suddenly they realized the pastor’s blazing eyes were fixed on THEM.

BOYS???!!!! And what was this nonsense about having a word with their parents? Their parents were in the room already!!??

“Candy, he thinks we are boys!” Pat whispered with a horrified gasp. She said the word, “boy” like it was the most disgusting thing in the entire world.  She looked at Candy with her bowl-cut hair, pants and stripped shirt. She did kind of look like a boy…

Candy’s eyes grew wide and filled with a sheen a tears.

Pat grabbed Candy’s hand and using all of her courage approached the podium where the pastor had once again continued his oceanic melody. They walked up the couple steps and then were right next to the pastor on the stage.

“Excuse me, ex-cuse me!” Pat said tugging on his suit coat.

The pastor looked down, startled.

“Wh-at are you boys doing now? You are being very disruptive,” he said flustered but managed a small, fake smile. His eye twitched beneath his thick glasses.

“We, we just wanted to tell you that- ” Pat paused suddenly feeling nervous. There were a lot of people in here and all of them were awake and attentive. She had to make sure the pastor knew though. She had to tell him, at least for Candy’s sake. She swallowed and then said,”We wanted to tell you that WE ARE GIRLS…..NOT BOYS.” 

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I have!!!!!!!

What is your worst child-hood hair cut? Any family stories you’d like to share?


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