I like ponytails. I think they are cute. On toddlers. On teens. On me. (Not so much on grown men or tiny dogs. Sorry.) Last night, Husband and I went on a date. It was a well-planned Upper West Side adventure. Dinner outside at a bustling, but casual restaurant (The West Branch). Silly and mindless movie (The Ugly Truth). Cupcakes (Magnolia, bien sur). Husband and I both craved a relaxing, uncomplicated evening. Over delectable Steak Tartare, we talked about decidedly unimportant things. Like Steak Tartare. I told Husband that I was thinking of getting a haircut. That it might be time for a change. That there is nothing like chopping locks to bring coveted evolution to existence. He humored me. Asked a simple two-word question: How short? Then he ate more raw and creamy steak. Frankly, he was very evasive and non-committal on the whole haircut proposition. But it was not time to debate such serious matters. We had a movie to make.
Little did I know that this movie would bring me some unanticipated clarity on the haircut dilemma AND lead me to question my deep reverence for The Ponytail. I will be careful here because I do not want to ruin for you a movie that is truly profound and not at all formulaic. Abby (Katherine Heigl), the movie's lead character, is a beautiful, but tightly-wound news producer who is not so lucky in love. The movie opens and she has this gorgeous shoulder length blonde hair. I turned to Husband and said, That's the length I would get! He nodded and continued to sip his Godzilla-sized Coke Zero. So Abby needs some help in finding Mr. Right. Enter Mike (Gerard Butler), the irreverent and raunchy purveyor of the "ugly truth" that men are not after poetic love, but are simple creatures who want skinny women who (1) don't criticize; (2) laugh at all jokes; and (3) (gasp) have long hair. The one scene that mildly traumatized me: In an effort to help Abby find love, Mike grabs Abby's cute little blonde ponytail and says, "Ponytails imply that you are operating heavy machinery or changing the litter box." Oh my. Then he takes this clueless creature for emergency hair extensions because "men need something to grab on to." Oh goodness.
So I sat there watching this, nodding, thankful that I was wearing my hair down. Suddenly, it was crystal clear why Husband was so dodgy on the whole haircut topic. And as the movie came to an end, I had it all figured out. Yes, it is nice to be educated and smart and witty and analytical, but it is also critically important to be sexy. With freely flowing, long hair. Just as I was coming to terms with the fact that the truth is indeed ugly (just like hideous Heigl in her "before" shots with no makeup, short hair, and -yuck- ponytails), we were all hit with the entirely unpredictable ultimate message of the movie. And it's not Be Hot. It's Be Yourself. Ooooh, let's take it a step further: Being Yourself Is Hot. Yes, that was the message! I think.
As we stood on line at Magnolia, right before I picked the most perfect lavender frosted cupcake, I said to Husband, "I am confused." He looked at me and his blue eyes said it all, We just saw the chick flick you picked and now we are buying pastel baked goods. What can be so confusing? "Should I get my hair cut or not?" I asked. "And what about ponytails? Are they okay or not?" He smiled at me lovingly, the insecure creature to whom he is tethered for all of eternity, a creature whose favorite hobby is to complicate simple things. Then he paid for our cupcakes and we headed home.
I woke up this morning. Felt around my pillow for my tangled long hair. It was still there. Maybe I had dreams about bobs. Who knows. And as our babies called for us, I thought of that silly movie that continues to perplex me. And, defiantly, unapologetically, I threw my hair up into a ponytail. Not because there was heavy machinery that needed operating. Not because there was litter that needed changing. (There was, but Husband does that.) Just to be me!