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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

(10) I ITCHED TO GRAB HER BY THE SCRUFF OF HER NECK.

March 17, 1962
Cohasset
     Vonnie asked me if she could have her hair done at Mona Friel’s.  I shelled out five dollars, and Mr. Franz cut and styled her hair.  She came storming into the house, shrieking that she hated her hair, it looked terrible.  It did make her look sort of like a mushroom, especially since she used a rinse last night and bleached her blonde locks almost white.  The top layer looked as if it had been cut with a bowl (“That’s a bubble, Mummy, I like that part”) and the lower layer was straight and flat against her head.  I didn’t blame her for re-setting her hair.  She looked like herself again when she departed for the Thayer basketball game.
     This afternoon she looked like nothing you’d expect to see in a lifetime, unless you went a few million miles out of your way.  With the help of some vegetable coloring, she dyed her hair a spring-like shade of green.  She had previously dyed one strand blue, which was silly enough,  but to be such an exhibitionist as to dye the whole works green—I was so upset I was going around the house talking to myself.  I itched to grab her by the scruff of the neck and hold her under the shower, but I didn’t think I should take any action until I calmed down.
     “Did your friend Gail dye her hair green, too?” I finally asked.
     “No,” Vonnie said.  “She isn’t Irish.”
     Irish!  Green!  St. Patrick’s day!  Sure and begorrah, ‘twas a great relief to know there’s a method in the lassie’s madness, and I won’t be livin’ with that crazy green hairdo more than a day or so.  I called Ed to tell him of his younger daughter’s patriotic high jinks—sure and he had a great laugh over it.
March 29, 1962
      I spent most of Tuesday evening typing entries from my journals that concerned Vonnie’s behavior during the past year. I was trying to organize in my mind all the things we'd want to tell Dr. Carr, a psychologist recommended by her school's guidance counselor. 
     The next morning. I ended up with a sheaf of twenty-five pages that I reread with morbid fascination while Ed mixed us a drink and talked airplane talk with Timmy. My God, had we really lived through all that? And Vonnie wasn’t pregnant or married or living in sin with a dope peddler? It didn’t seem possible that she had only flunked out of Thayer Academy, damaged the car, and been suspended from Cohasset High School. It could have been worse.
     Her father read the letters after dinner and he, too, marveled at all we had survived.
     Before we retired Ed said something about “when I soloed today,” and I cried, “You soloed? Why didn’t you tell me!”
      “I did tell you. You were sitting right there while I described the whole thing. Ask Timmy.”
      “Tell me again. I was so absorbed I didn’t hear you.”     
       “I guess you didn’t,” he said, sounding miffed. “There’s nothing to tell, I just soloed, that's all."
      “You went up all by yourself and came down all by yourself? Why, that’s marvelous! Come on,
tell me all about it—please?”
      No matter how I tried to atone for my neglect, I couldn’t wheedle another word out of that stubborn, miffed man.

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