People say that it's important to pick your battles, and I believe that's true. There are a lot of little things that bother me--heck, there are a lot of major things that bother me--but I am one of the least confrontational people in the world. It's not that I have difficulty with confrontation, though that is true, because I think many people have that problem. It's just that, for the most part, I'm a pretty patient and forgiving person, a combination that makes me very difficult to piss off.
I do have one pet peeve, however, something about which I am quick to anger: my hair. My hair is off limits to all but a very select few. The only time I have ever hit anyone in anger, in my entire life, was when someone messed with my hair.
I was probably 12 or 13 years old, and I was at summer camp with kids from my grandma's church. It was the second or third year I'd gone, and I was the oldest kid in our cabin, so our cabin leader put a little more trust in me. Now, every year the best part of camp was the nighttime pranks. No one in my family did pranks, so this was the most anticipated part of my year.
When we got to camp, however, the cabin leader told us that we weren't going to be allowed to do any pranks until after family day, which was halfway through the week, because last year the cabin ended up too messy, and she wanted everything clean and nice for when our parents came to visit. To make it up to us, she said we'd have a huge shaving cream fight as soon as our parents were gone, and everyone was pretty satisfied with the arrangement.
Everything went fine until Tuesday. We were on our way to go swimming when one of the youngest girls, maybe seven or eight years old, said she'd left her swimsuit at the cabin. Since I was the oldest, and I've generally been very mature for my age, our leader asked me to walk the girl back to the cabin to get her suit, and meet them at the pool. When we got to the cabin, the girl asked me if she could play a prank-she wanted to put rice in someone's sleeping bag. Always a classic.
I reminded her that we weren't supposed to pull any pranks till Wednesday, but said that if she wanted to, it was up to her; I wasn't going to help, but I wouldn't tell on her either. So she went ahead and did it, and we headed to the pool.
Now, there was a girl on the camping trip who was just about my age, named Wendy, who I'd known a long time. We met on my first day in the church daycare, and though we didn't go to my grandma's church anymore, I still saw her every now and then when we went to visit, and at camp. So I guess you could say we were friends, and usually the two of us banded together at camp, as the two oldest kids by a pretty big margin.
During the summer in question, however, she'd brought her cousin along, so I was a little out of the loop. Which was fine--I understood. Her cousin had never met any of us before, so Wendy was the only person she knew, and it's hard for kids, I think, to work the whole third wheel thing. But we were still on good terms, until we all returned to the cabin after swimming, and Wendy's cousin discovered rice in her sleeping bag.
If you didn't already know, eight year old's are terrible liars. So when they asked who had pulled the prank, she got scared, and fessed up. And when asked why, she said I'd told her to do it. Though that wasn't the case, it didn't matter. For some reason, Wendy was seriously pissed off about it, and neither she or her cousin would talk to me for the rest of the week.
The next day was Family Day, and it went well. So that night, as promised, our cabin leader brought out the shaving cream, and told us to be nice and have fun. Before the melee began, I got the group's attention. I told them that I was totally fine with being smeared with shaving cream, but I would really appreciate if they'd all stay away from my hair, because it really bothered me. They all agreed to stay away from my hair, and we had a great time.
When it was over, though, and I was at the sink rinsing the cream off my arms, Wendy walked in with a huge handful of shaving cream and, without a word, smeared it in my hair. I didn't immediately freak out; I reminded her that I'd asked everyone to stay away from my hair, and asked that she please not do it again while I began to wash it out.
In rebuttal, she brought forth her other hand, also full of shaving cream, and smeared it in again. In that moment, all self-control left me--I'd slapped her right across the face before I'd even consciously made the decision to do so.
Needless to say, she left me alone for the rest of the week. But it was a hollow victory. I didn't like that it had had to come to violence, even as minor as a slap in the face, before she left me alone. I'd lost the one almost-friend I had at my grandma's church for good, and I never went back to camp.
Like I said, I've never been a confrontational person, but that situation made me even less so. Since then, I've learned to deal with people touching my hair, and it turned out to be a good thing--because hair is Olivia's favorite new toy.