As it turns out, they weren’t really playing with the Barbie Head. They were in training. Training to be full fledged, self-grooming women. And, through this training, they became not only self-grooming. They are able to groom others, as well. I’ve further come to learn that most women have this amazing, community grooming ability. Ex-Mrs. Rub can do it, too. I, on the other hand, having spent my youth dreaming of jackhammer demolitions, do not have that ability. Or, I didn’t used to. That Barbie Head training would have come in handy nowadays, now that I’m a father of a daughter.
Recently, my daughter has adopted a rad new hairstyle called, “Knot-Ridden Get Dad In Trouble Mess”. She never used to have problems with knots. Or maybe she had, but I never paid attention. In the past, if she had a knot here and there, I would brush her hair in a way so that the outside strands covered the knots, and it looked smooth until she actually moved. Hence, the iron lung I bought and made her go to school in on the problem days. This strategy worked fine until, I guess, it got out of hand, as determined by ex-Mrs. Rub.
This is actually fun for them, until they expect a guy to do it.
Somehow, it became my fault that my daughter’s hair had become a knot farm. Although I swear she’s come to my house after a few days at ex-Mrs. Rub’s home with a rat’s nest on her head. After I took the rat’s nest off her head, I noticed thousands of knots in her hair. Not being able to prove it (and I didn’t even question why my daughter was wearing a rat’s nest), I chose not to even bring up the argument with ex-Mrs. Rub.
She had the gall to question my daughter-grooming ability. My retort was clear. I never had a Barbie Head, nor have I ever had long hair (relatively), nor have I ever, personally, had a knot in my hair. I did get gum stuck in my hair in seventh grade during a pep rally, once. I couldn’t get it out with my comb, so I chose to rip out the entire clump from my skull. The bleeding stopped by seventh period. I brought that up to confuse ex-Mrs. Rub, but it didn’t work. My diversionary tactics haven’t worked since the day after our honeymoon. Still, they make arguing more fun (for me, at least). My point was, how the hell would I know how to get a knot out of my hair, let alone, my daughter’s hair? She’s seen my daughter’s Barbie Head. It’s bald. It’s bald because one day my daughter was crying because she had trouble brushing the ratty fake hair on the Barbie Head, so I shaved it. That probably wasn’t the optimal solution to the problem, and it didn’t stop my daughter from crying, but it was a solution. That Barbie Head hasn’t had a knot since. It all worked out. She and I make fun of the bald Barbie Head sometimes, and it’s a wonderful father/daughter bonding experience.
My defense was stricken from the record and overruled by the emotional agony ex-Mrs. Rub endured while extricating the knots from my daughter’s head. She claimed that she was brought to tears with the sight of bales of my daughter’s hair being meshed in the comb, as if she was being plucked to death. I did some research on this. You can’t kill somebody by plucking them unless you do it all at once and pull at least 39.4 percent of the skin with it. Ex-Mrs. Rub did not use the global pluck technique, so I considered her testimony immaterial. That made no difference to ex-Mrs Rub.
I was losing the argument. It’s hard to beat an emotional opponent when all I have are bullets made out of logic and responsibility avoidance. I had one more bomb in my arsenal. I proposed that maybe, just maybe, our daughter was not mature enough to take care of such long hair by herself. Ex-Mrs. Rub agreed, and before she could get her “but” out there, I suggested we cut my daughter’s hair short until she learns to knot-proof it herself. Or, at least until the Barbie Head grows her fake hair back so my daughter can practice. Then, the “but” came out. Ex-Mrs. Rub said something about me being lazy and not willing to sacrifice some effort to keep my daughter’s hair the way she likes it. I’m not sure of her exact words. There was a game on. Then, I may have accused her of not being a good enough mom to teach our daughter how to self-groom. OK, I’m not an idiot, I didn’t actually say that, but the thought did cross my mind. Not the part of her being a bad mom - she’s a wonderful mom. It was just the part about her not having taught our daughter the self-grooming. It’s only fair since I have taught our son everything he has to know about being a guy, which is nothing since he’s a guy. I was going to say it, but I couldn’t think of a way to phrase it without getting a brush jammed in a part of my body that brushes usually don’t go.
Finally, I succumbed to the pressure and agreed to make more of an effort to the follicle fostering of our daughter. After giving my daughter a bath, (a bath that rendered her hair knotless, I’ll have you know) I asked her to get her pajamas on and report to me for some beauty parlor time. Somewhere between her bedroom and the family room and during the three minutes, twenty-six seconds it took her to don her pj’s, no less than forty-five hundred knots infiltrated her hair.
Immediately, I wondered how my daughter would look with a Dorothy Hamill haircut. No, not too good. Not even back in the seventies. So I armed myself with a brush, a fine-toothed comb and a fifty-five gallon drum of that Knot-Be-Gone fluid, which should be called, Knot-Be-Wet-But-Still-In-Your-Daughter’s-Hair. The stuff doesn’t work. I attacked the knots with the brush. The brush was able to smooth out the top layer of her hair, which almost tricked me, but I was now too wise in the ways of tuft teasing. I looked underneath the calm sea of hair to find the looming tumbleweed graveyard. So, I pumped some more knot-buster sauce and went after it with the comb. After I traumatized my daughter with whiplash from the massive comb stroke being thwarted by the knots, I considered that maybe going after all of the knots at once was not the best approach.
I began carefully taking each knot at a time. Some of them consisted of only two or three strands of hair. Before I knew it, I was half finished. Thinking that was better than I usually did, I almost sent her to bed to let her mother figure out the rest in a couple of days. But, I carried on, and finished the job. Sure, I ripped a few strands out of my daughter’s head, eliciting shrieks of pain. But, I didn’t let that bother me. I don’t know what ex-Mrs. Rub’s issue was with seeing the amputated hair in the comb. Those are tokens of learning. Me learning how to de-knot, and my daughter learning that she needs to figure this task out herself so that I don’t resort back to my clump yanking gum extracting technique of my youth on her.
I now consider myself pretty good at grooming my daughter’s hair. Pretty good in relation to other non-gay fathers, that is. I have long ago conquered the ponytail, braid, bun and beehive. I still can’t compete with the Barbie Head trained women of the world. That doesn’t bother me, since I have other mountains to eventually climb being the father of a daughter. Mountains such as puberty and the “monthly visitor” I can see coming over the horizon toward our house. I wonder if Mattel has a Barbie part to help me out with that.