My husband and I are both neurotically tidy. We're not exactly germaphobes, but our house is usually organized and reasonably clean, even the areas nobody ever sees. It's great because our place always looks presentable, but a well-kept home also creates a set of unique problems.
Matt, the husband in question, is constantly re-arranging the dishwasher. I'm always shoving his abandoned items in places he'll never find them again. We walk a weird line between gratitude and resentment toward one another, but at the end of the day we happily eat, sleep and fart in a clean, comfortable space. There is one issue, however, with which he just can't reconcile. There's virtually nothing I can do to fix it, and it's become a major point of stress in the delicate balance our functionally neurotic home.
I have long, dark hair. Nearly butt-length at its longest layer, it's usually a mess of curls, hairspray and pins. It's a shit ton of maintenance and I'm perpetually preening.
After my son was born in September of 2013, my hair started falling out. All the lustre and volume I'd relished during pregnancy was replaced with limp, straggly strands that split off in clumps when I showered (thanks, nature). Because I flat-out refused to get the requisite short haircut that moms often give into, my kid yanked it out in handfuls whenever it wasn't tied back in a pony.
Because I've always worn my hair long, a few loose strands around the house are just a part of reality. While Matt occasionally grumbled about hair in the sink or on the furniture, it didn't seem to bother him too much. But when the great shed began, he became a man unhinged.
I admit, it was pretty bad. My locks carpeted our pillowcases and sheets, regularly clogged our drains and constantly surfaced in our food. Matt regularly sent texts from work threatening divorce as he plucked my hair from his clothes, laptop and lunch. He cursed and complained louder with every strand, which ended up virtually everywhere – crusted in the toothpaste ring, floating inside our kid's bottles, amid the condiments in the fridge.
There wasn't much I could do to stop it. I tried to confine my grooming to the bathroom and gave our furniture an extra weekly once-over with the Dyson, but it didn't make much difference. I live and work in our house, so it was inevitable that pieces of my DNA would be all over the place. I promised Matt it would get better as my hormones balanced back out, and P.S. fuck you, because I just manufactured an entire person.
Spring rolled around, and with it, came the miraculous re-growth of my shiny, albeit out-of-control mane. It was stronger, longer and finger-combing didn't tangle my hands in a spidery web. Huzzah! Matt all but stopped whining about it and balance was restored to the universe.
Enter this winter. As soon as the mercury dropped and all the moisture was sucked from the air, guess what? My hair started to fall out, possibly worse than it had before. I gobbled handfuls of Vitamin E, started using a boar bristle brush oh-so-gently, switched to all-natural products, cut down on washes and eliminated most of the heat treatments. Nothing worked. In desperation, I explained the phenomenon to my doctor. With a grim matter-of-factness, she revealed that thanks to the magic of childbirth, my body would likely respond in the same way every winter for the rest of my life. Hello, divorce.
This past winter in Atlantic Canada has been mercilessly cold and windy, punctuated by regular blizzards (seriously, the snow was piled so high it's covered up some of our windows), so a slouchy toque over a messy braid or pigtails has been my go-to since about Christmas. The Hoth weather aside, my bangs are in the infinitely frustrating in-between stage, so it's just easier to cover it all up. This vain move looks like an attempt to keep my strands contained. It doesn't seem to help.
Matt's come to a place where he feels I'm somehow intentionally leaving my hair in and on things just to irritate him. When he finds one, he'll deliver it to me and flick it in my direction, and usually throw in some hilarious announcement, like, "I think this belongs to you." It's actually been the catalyst of a few near-screaming fights. The arguments are obviously ridiculous. Intellectually, he knows there's nothing I can do—outside of shaving my head—to prevent my hairs from ending up in his mouth and buttcrack, but he's past the point of irritation. He needs to assign blame. Logically this is all directed at me.
Although my husband claims to love long hair, mine is the reason he hates me.
Victoria Dekker is an Atlantic Canadian freelance journalist.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.