My Baby-Boomer Mom Flips Out About Carol’s Hair

[WARNING: WALKING DEAD SPOILERS!]

I was never much of a zombie fan until I fell in love with The Walking Dead after my husband finally talked me into watching it.

My cousin was also reluctant, but I talked her into trying it and before long, we were furiously texting back and forth about how Rick should fortify the prison and whether fire should be involved in the scheme. Clearly, the show appeals to a wider audience than you’d expect.

So I wondered if my mom might like it too, but at first, she wasn’t on board.

“I don’t like zombies,” she kept telling me. “Zombies will give me nightmares.”

I persisted: “Mom, it’s the number one show watched by women right now and women don’t usually like zombie stuff. It’s violent but the storyline is great. Just give it a few episodes and if you hate it, I’ll never bring it up again.”

grumpy-old-men
Old farts trying everyone’s patience

Eventually my folks were worn down enough to try it out. Maybe it would shut me up, if nothing else.

But as we settled down on the couch, I started getting a little nervous about just how graphic it gets and whether or not my mom could handle it.

Mom hasn’t historically done well with violent scenes. After all, this is the women who once panicked while watching Grumpy Old Men since the men were, in fact, somewhat grumpy.

She reserved her judgment, however, only wincing a little through the buckets of gore. Then Carol walked onscreen…

Mom sucked in her breath. “Why is that woman’s hair so short?”

“That’s Carol. She just has short hair.”

“But why is it so short?” She waited to hear a reasonable explanation. Maybe chemo.

“I don’t know mom, but she’s an awesome character. You’ll end up really liking her.”

Mom looked skeptical that any woman with such short hair could end up being awesome, but tried to keep an open mind as she continued to watch.

By this point, my parents were hooked enough to keep watching the show over the next several weeks. Once Rick’s gang made it to Herschel’s farm, I was curious about how my parents felt about the characters so far, so I asked them.

“Hmm,” Mom replied. “Glenn seems nice and Maggie’s alright. As for who I don’t like, hmm…”

I awaited her judgment, expecting to hear about Shane’s ruthlessness or Lori’s betrayal. Maybe even about how Dale is impractical and out-of-touch…

“I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I just don’t like that Carol. It may be her hair.”

“She’s fairly nondescript right now,” I admitted. “But watching it again, I’m noticing how much her character changes over the series. Give her a chance. She ends up being one of your favorites.”

Mom took my point under advisement as we continued plowing through the series. We finally hit the prison section when Carol is missing, presumed dead. Even after T-Dog heroically sacrifices himself to the walkers to give her a fighting chance, the gang finds her bloody headscarf and realizes she never made it out.

They arrange a makeshift grave marker for Carol, where Daryl touchingly leaves white Cherokee roses in tribute. He later finds her knife in a prison hallway and in a moment of pained emotional fury, tears open the jammed door supposedly trapping the walkers that probably killed her.

But instead of zombies, he finds an emaciated Carol, who has survived after all. He picks up the weakened Carol, wedding-threshhold style, and carries her out of the prison in a tearjerking scene.

darylcarriescarol
Carol is safe, though her hair remains exasperatingly short

Mom furrows her brow, squints at the television, and frowns.

“How has her hair not grown any longer yet?”

I couldn’t keep my cool any longer. “That’s IT,” I announce. “I’M SO GOING TO WRITE A BLOG POST ABOUT YOUR OBSESSION WITH CAROL’S HAIRCUT!”

“What? Why?” Mom asked.

“You’re fixated on Carol’s hair to a baffling degree. Why does it matter to you so much?”

“It’s just… SO SHORT.”

“SO!?”

“I just don’t understand why it doesn’t get any longer. Maggie’s hair is getting longer, so why isn’t Carol’s? Does she keep cutting it? Is she cutting it that short on purpose?”

“I don’t know! Who cares? Maybe she doesn’t want it in her way when she’s fleeing all the zombies trying to disembowel her! ”

“Don’t you think it’s weird?”

“Well, I wouldn’t keep MY hair that short but I don’t care what Carol does. Is this a generational thing?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I can’t grasp your inability to get past Carol’s hairstyle. Weren’t you guys from the 60’s hippy generation that challenged all the uptight haircut standards?”

“Yes we were,” Mom said proudly, “But we kept our hair LONG, not short. There was a 60’s musical called Hair that was all about challenging the Old Guard by growing our hair out.”

Dad starts singing the “long, beautiful hair” line from the title song of Hair in the background as I continue.

“Okay, but wasn’t the whole point about NOT judging someone’s worth or character by their hairstyle? About keeping your hair however you want it instead of conforming to the rigid lengths of the status quo?”

carol
Carol Peletier: zombie survivor and potential Nazi sympathizer of questionable tastes

“Now that you mention it,” Mom started,”You may be onto something about this being a generational perspective. Why, back in France during World War II, French women who prostituted themselves to the Nazis had their hair shorn off as a mark of shame. Maybe when I see Carol, her hair makes her look shameful to me.”

“So… you don’t like Carol because her hairstyle indicates she’s been cavorting with Germans?

“Now Erin, that’s enough!”

And that was that. So bizarre.

I have to wonder whether this attitude represents a personal quirk or part of a larger generational divide. Are any of you Baby Boomers also fans of The Walking Dead, and if so, do you find yourselves struggling to get past the inexplicable shortness of Carol’s hair?

Do you suspect she’s been cavorting with Germans? (This seems like it should be more of a Greatest Generation thing.)

And as long as I’m asking, do any other Gen X/Millennials find themselves at odds with their parents about Carol’s hairstyling choices?

There’s got to be some explanation.

 

 

 

 

27 Comments

  1. I plead guilty to a fixation on Carol’s militant, sexually-ambiguous, but-maybe-she-had-cancer hair, but I did not say, “Erin, that’s enough.”

    I’ve never censured you since you could talk for two hours straight with me only nodding my head and murmuring “uh-huh” when you were in elementary school.

    I’ve always been very supportive of your self expression.

    But Carol’s hair is weird.

    Like

    1. I apologize for getting that line wrong. Going from memory while trying to be entertaining is bound to result in a few mistakes.

      And I commend you for your great patience with having to hear your child talk for so long.

      I’ll remove the offending line and hope you prefer the alternative version.

      Like

  2. No apology necessary and no need to revise anything.

    I’ve always been proud of your ability to express yourself. Your early ability to talk non-stop without external input remains a point of amazement, not impatience, to me.

    When I listen to Brontë talk so eloquently, it reminds me of you, and I get a secret little warm feeling that I’m seeing this passed on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh good… I read the tone as much more offended, and couldn’t remember how the conversation ended exactly apart from it turning into dinner arrangements that wouldn’t be entertaining to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re mom, ha! Totally something my mom would say too. Of course, she is always pretending not to know anything about baseball and basketball by saying stuff like throw a home run or kick a baseball, cause she thinks its funny that we like sports.

    Liked by 2 people

            1. Thank you! Well, I was an English major and liked the Brontë sisters, plus I saw Green Card as a kid and the main character was named Brontë.

              It’s an unusual name, but it exists. Weirdly enough, we took Brontë to the pediatrician one day and met another Brontë there. Maybe it’s on trend, haha

              Like

  4. Carol’s hair is totally a great topic of conversation. My wife and I met Melissa McBride when she came to a local science fiction convention in Maryland. This was before the “look at the flowers” storyline, so Carol was awesome, but still had more awesome story ahead of her.

    My wife was undergoing chemo at the time, and it might come as no surprise that Carol’s short hair was a topic of conversation with my wife and the actress, who was super nice and talked with my wife for a long time.

    Carol’s a wonderful character (but someone it’s not safe to get on the bad side of), and her “I like my hair short, deal with it” aspect is part of her appeal.

    Hey, it’s cool that your mom reads your blog and comments. (My dad reads my Game of Thrones posts… I threw him under a metaphorical bus once in a post, talking about how he mispronounces Arya’s name – he read the books first and how he says the names are amazing.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patrick, consider yourself hugged.

      Part of Erin’s upbringing consisted of encouraging her to examine her own attitudes and speak her own mind while remaining open to opposing viewpoints.

      I view her tendency to challenge my viewpoints as a wonderful outcome of her early childhood.

      Meanwhile, next to me, on my birthday, no less, my husband and Erin’s father is shaking the sofa with laughter.

      “Erin could talk non-stop for hours and Brontë shows similar promise? You’ve never written anything short in your life!”

      Hmmm…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. That’s so neat that you got to meet Melissa McBride! She seems nice, so I’m glad to hear she’s great in person. It’s cool to find celebrities who are good people, not divas. 🙂

      I’m sorry your wife had to go through chemo–I’ve heard it’s really rough. I hope everything turned out well.

      Carol definitely ends up being one of my favorites, though my folks haven’t gotten far enough in the series to see her take off yet. And yes… you do NOT want to be on her bad side.

      I’m a little surprised to see her comment, actually, but I guess I did write a whole post about her, lol. I’m hoping she takes all this as good-natured ribbing. It’s mostly a humor blog. 🙂

      Still haven’t gotten into GOT, though some of my friends are outraged by this. I’ll be giving it a shot in time though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your hopes in regards to my wife and her past chemo. She’s been totally clear of cancer for the past few years, and everything seems fine. She was a trouper during the process, but she had a less aggressive course of treatment than other people we know, since her cancer was found pretty early.

        I’m smiling at your friends’ outrage. I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, but I understand that not everyone has to be. We live in a time of too much TV, and since you have young children, it’s extra hard to make time. And it’s only TV. (But it’s a great show, as are the books. I’ll stop pressuring you now.)

        best regards!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m so glad, congratulations! Good thing they found it early.

          We will probably get to it, we just have limited time after the kids go to bed and made our way through shows like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and Walking Dead in the evenings. There are so many GOT fans that I’m sure we will try it out

          Liked by 1 person

          1. All those are pretty epic dramas. We wanted to watch Breaking Bad when it was still on, but we had yet started when Lisa was diagnosed with cancer, so we waited (because I would have been a wreck.)

            Once she was clear, we binged Breaking Bad. We’re loving Better Call Saul…

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh geez, I hadn’t considered watching BB while fighting cancer! It’s a great series but that’s not the time.

              We are loving Better Call Saul too. Mike and Saul were my favorite BB characters 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

    1. True, I’m sure you’re not alone in your perspective, but I do wonder if it’s a Baby Boomer tendency. I think Gen X and Gen Y grew up with so many tattoos, piercings and ear gages that having short hair is less shocking to us. I noticed the thread mostly focused on how she was keeping it short, rather than why she would.

      I think sexual identity is also less binary than it used to be (or used to be expressed). I’m guessing fewer people are startled now than in previous generations.

      Like

  5. Oh, I take this as good-natured ribbing, to be sure. I’m glad you feel comfortable enough with me to let it fly because I can’t remotely imagine taking on my own mother without incident!

    Liked by 1 person

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