Mom was as passionate about the upkeep of her daughters' hair as she was about her backyard. Whenever she ran out of weeds to whack, out came the shears. She would cut our hair pixie-style like Twiggy's. Never mind that it was 1975, and Twiggy had gone the way of the psychedelic '60s. Long, straight hair, parted in the middle like Susan Dey's in The Partridge Family, was now the popular look in the Philippines.
"You better sit still if you don't want the tips of your ears clipped off," Mom warned. She had just finished trimming my bangs and was about to continue with the rest of my hair, which by now had sneaked two inches below my ears.
"Mom, please don't cut anymore," I pleaded. "All my friends have long hair. I'm the only one who still looks like a boy."
How can I attract a boy when I look like one? I wanted to add.
"Just this morning, the rice cake vendor mistook me for a boy again."
We were out on the terrace, where I wriggled on a bar stool with a towel draped across my shoulders. From our usual spot facing the backyard, I could see the coconut trees, interspersed with other fruit and flowering trees surrounding the freshly-whacked lawn. The coconut trees taunted me with their long, swaying fronds. As if in unity, the maya birds chirped, "Clip! Clip! Clip!" as they flitted about the champaca trees.
Mom wielded her shears just above my ear.