You know how you run into an acquaintance at Target and they ask how you are, and “fine” is your automatic response? Honestly, things would have to be pretty bad– or pretty great– to elicit a more lengthy reply. Of course, when I was wearing a scarf on my bald head, these interactions could be a little awkward. Most people handled it well, though. My favorite comment was from the mom of one of my daughter’s friends, while smiling and staring at my bald head: “We-elllllllll, I haven’t seen you in a while. What’s new?” Obviously, to ignore the bald head and the cancer would have been ridiculous, so we had a nice chat and I filled her in.
But now, I’m not bald anymore. In the past few months, I have run into a couple of people who worked with Clay years ago. I always had long hair, and that’s how they remembered me. They both commented immediately on my short hair– they were clearly surprised at the drastic change. So how to address that comment? It’s more of a “fine” kind of encounter. This isn’t really the setting to go into a long health saga with someone who I don’t know well enough to have spoken with in the past five years. Yet it seems a little disingenuous to act like I cut it short because I wanted it that way, to ignore the fact that I’ve had cancer. After stumbling through the awkward encounter a few times, I’ve finally found some words. “Thanks, it is a big change. I actually really like it short, but I’ve decided to try to grow it back out.”