Every day my heart weeps for Orphan Annie. I watch her out the window each day and feel a little twinge of sympathy.
She’s not the Orphan Annie, rather a uni student with similar hairstyle for whom I lack the imagination to coin a more original alias. The first time I saw her sprinting out of the university residence with scarf, trendy satchel and precision-faded jeans, I thought she had on a little woolly red hat. But I soon realised that it was actually her hair.
When I was young, my mother had my red locks butchered into an angry red helmet. She thought it looked cute. But all the other girls in my kindergarten had long ponytails and pretty ribbons! All I had was a rotten little ball of red. My chronic lack of self-esteem was cemented at this tender age. I would growl contemptuously at my reflection in the bathroom mirror each morning. I’d mash my hair down flat to try and make it look longer. I’d kick and scream before every trip to the hairdressers. I became convinced my hair deficiency was the reason why a particularly lovely boy would never catch and kiss me when we played Catch And Kiss in the playground.
Being a redhead can be traumatic: people expect you to be feisty, you look crap in pink, you continually have to scream “CARROT TOPS ARE ACTUALLY GREEN!” in feeble defence, it’s hard to find a lipstick that doesn’t make you look like a hooker, you can’t blend in with a crowd, people expect you to go off like a firecracker between the sheets, if you raise your voice there’s a chorus of “Ooh! Angry redhead!”, and complete strangers ask you if you are red “down there”.
(Incidentally, I know when people are going to ask That Question before they even say it. One lunchtime in about Year 9 I was minding my own business when I was accosted by a number of guys, slyly scuffing their sneakers on the pavement and wearing the smuggest of grins.
“Hey Shauna, we were just wondering…”
“IT’S RED GODDAMMIT!” I yelled. “Shall I pluck out a sample for you? Or should I just drop my dacks in the middle of the basketball court SO YOU CAN ALL HAVE A GAWK!?!”)
“Well, that could work.”
“Ooh! Angry redhead!”)
Orphan Annie has it worse, in my opinion, coz not only does she have the red hair, she’s got that impossibly wiry steel-wool hair that can only be tamed by cropping it as close to the skull as possible.
(we had a term for people with such hair my high school, and that was of course, “Pube Head”. I could have given OA this nickname but I like to think my nicknames have matured a little since my high school days.)