Katie McDowell, Life & Leisure

Oh, the horror … of this hair

Katie McDowell
Katie Long McDowell

Because I write and I love horror movies, people often ask if I’ve ever considered penning a screenplay.

My friend Matt — who has worked on a few scary films himself in the past — pokes me about it incessantly, in fact.

But although I’m a fan, it’s never really occurred to me to dip my toe into those particular waters.

I just didn’t know what the heck I would write about.

Until now.

Because lately I have been rolling an idea around in my head, thanks to, well, my head.

Titled “The Phantom Follicle,” it is the story of a normal, everyday, middle-aged woman who descends slowly into madness as she attempts to find a piece of hair on her face.

She can see it out of the corner of her eye.

She can feel it, tickling her nose.

It dances at the edge of her mouth and brushes wickedly upon her cheek.

But. She. Cannot. Get. It. Off.

The hair avoids any and all attempts to locate it by hand.

Evil to its very core, it deftly dodges her fingers, over and over and over.

Tickle, tickle, tickle.

Blurry strand, blurry strand, blurry strand.

It cleaves to her Chapsticked lips and hovers in her peripheral vision.

And it knows her movements — every time she has a leash in one hand and two bags of doggie poo in the other, it draws strength from her helplessness and multiplies malevolently.

In these crucial moments, its devilment increases.

Across the forehead now.

Jabbing toward her pupils.

Inside her mouth, stuck sickeningly to her tongue.

Its hellish presence is everywhere.

Except in her grasping hand.

She paws at her face, clawing at her temples, tucking tufts into a hat, under a collar, doing and redoing her ponytail holder.

But it won’t be tamed.

“I’ll look in the mirror and find it when I get home,” she thinks, holding tight to her sanity, as she tries to maintain her jogging speed/leash control/exercise form.

However, later, in the bright light of the bathroom looking glass — as surely as Keyser Söze — poof. It’s gone.

Disappeared. Hiding.

Biding its time.

The hair is out to kill her, slowly, by degrees.

Death by a thousand tiny, wayward tresses.

Tickle, tickle, tickle.

Blurry strand by blurry strand.

For years, I had a super-short pixie. My coif was practically nonexistent — a couple inches long, at most. I didn’t know this struggle — or had blocked it out as a defense mechanism.

Who knows, maybe subconsciously, it’s why I cut all my hair off in the first place.

And here I always thought it was because of Demi Moore in “Ghost.”

It was from this place of blissful ignorance that I imagine Matt, with his tightly trimmed man-cut, replied:

“I don’t get it.”

“Trust me,” I told him.

“This is horror gold.”

It’s so relatably awful, I said, that I’ve already started on the sequel.

A tale perhaps even more terrifying than the first.

“That Elusive Eyelash.”


Katie Long McDowell is the managing editor and lifestyles columnist for The Dominioin Post. Email kmcdowell@dominionpost.com