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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Friday, March 24, 2006


Why my nickname in fourth grade was bald eagle

Friends, I finished the newsletter and got it to the printer in time to enjoy Bad Mamas Coffee with Squid and the gang. In my absence, did you take the quick survey that I politely asked you to take? I hope so. If not, won't you reconsider? Please? In exchange for your participation, I will offer you a story. The story of how I once had the nickname bald eagle.

I remember class picture day in third grade well. Here is my third grade class portrait:

I am in the first row, third from left. Do you see my knee high green socks and my long brown hair? I remember waiting in line to get that picture taken. While waiting in line, I borrowed somebody's comb. I think I remember whose comb it was but I will not point her out. This girl's comb had friends on it; little bitty friends. Those friends grew and multiplied and laid eggs and hatched and caused my head to itch very badly.

And I told no one.

Until one night we were at a Geological Society slide show of some kind. (My mom couldn't afford babysitters.) That night my head felt like it was ON FIRE. I could not stop itching. I do not remember how much time had passed since that fateful picture day, but it was long enough for horrible things to happen on my head, for entire colonies of lice to infest my tender scalp.

Does your head itch yet?

It was at that meeting that I borrowed my mom's comb and proceeded to spend the entire night frantically combing my hair in a vain attempt to relieve the itching. That night my mom figured out what was going on. And freaked out.

Because of my long hair, the fact we lived in humid Houston, and because I had hid my itchy head for so long, the head lice were out of control. We tried the horrible shampoos and the combing, but it was hopeless. There was nothing my mom could do except chop of all my hair.

And that is how I ended up looking like this:

Going back to school with no hair was difficult. I wore a kerchief, but there was no mistaking the fact that something horrible had happened to me. The kids were cruel. Kids are cruel anyway, but when you have no hair they are particularly cruel. The kid sitting behind me ripped off my kerchief and I started crying. It was the last day of school and my mom had given me a note for the teacher advising her that I had head lice and that she should inform the class so that they could be alerted to the possibility that they, too, might have head lice.

The nicest thing my teacher in that photo ever did for me was decide not to share the note with the class.

The rest of the day I sat on the chair by her desk. I cried and hung my head; it was the worst day of my grade school life and I think she sensed that. She let me leave early so I could get a head start walking home so the kids wouldn't follow me and pick on me. I don't know if I've ever said thank you, Mrs. Gaston. So. Thank you.

That's probably all you need to know at this time about my tortured childhood, but I will add that fourth grade was a tough year. My hair was still short and the kids on the bus called me bald eagle. Hey, I just chuckled! After 27 years I'm finally able to laugh about it! See, this story is funny after all!

Anyway, if you don't mind taking this survey, I'd appreciate it.

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