Toast, Don’t Bite That

There are days I feel like my head is full of fluff and bother. This is one of those days. For one thing, I slept in. Even now, sitting upright at my desk, I would like to go back to bed. However. I have this post to write, conflicting times on an obligation midday today, and a kitten who wants to eat my hair.

No, I don’t know why the kitten thinks my hair is cronchy and will go to town on it if I allow her. Honestly, there are moments I think about cutting the hair all off and…

Then I’d have to go see the stylist regularly instead of every year or so. I do wonder about hair, though. We don’t see a lot of references to it in fiction, unless there’s a reason for a reference like someone having to shave for military training, or depilate for space travel. What, you don’t think that will be a requirement in some forms of that? I can tell you that as a female of lengthy scalp decoration, when I shed a strand it’s visible and obvious. For that matter, when Toast sheds on the teal couch it’s visible. I can also tell you that cleaning sink and shower drains is a commitment. For something I ostensibly do because I’m lazy, the hair is a pain in the tuchis.

So, in a space environment where there’s a need to keep the air clean, recirculating, and ditto for the water, long hair is just not on. Even shoulder length is going to be iffy. Also, restraining that hair to keep it under a helmet? I’ve had to keep waist-length hair under military cover (Civil Air Patrol, I never served, but did have to adhere to dress regulations) and it’s not easy. My usual method was two braids, wrapped around the head and pinned in place, with a cover much larger than I’d wear with my hair down. And my hair isn’t particularly bulky, it’s fine and only curls if cut short. Some women have hair that isn’t so tame. It’s not just women, either. I knew a young man while I was a librarian, he was an avid reader so I saw him often, and at the age of 13 he’d never had a hair cut. The boy had glorious hair, when he wore it loose (usually it was in a single neat braid), and it was uncut for religious reasons (I didn’t ask but his mother and I chatted from time to time and she mentioned it). Do you think about this sort of thing when you’re designing that colony ship?

I’ve been reading Andre Norton again, the Solar Queen trilogy. This isn’t really a non-sequitur, it’s to do with cats. She really loved cats, and that comes through in the books. I had read Plague Ship before, but had managed to miss the first and third books, so I got those and had a lovely read-through around the homework reading. Sargasso of Space (which seems not to be in public domain or at least not on Amazon) and Voodoo Planet are the ones that were new reads for me. Sinbad, the cat of the Solar Queen, is very much a character, and in Plague Ship, vital to detection of clues. Which the humans ignore.

I think we’ll take cats to space with us, when we go for longer expeditions or to live. Dogs I don’t know about, hence my writing a dog in as a legendary species in Tanager’s Fledglings. Cats shed. People shed. What do we do about all of that?

I don’t think going bald permanently is the option, there. However, if it will get Toast to stop chewing on my hair while I’m trying to sleep…

22 thoughts on “Toast, Don’t Bite That

  1. What pets we take into space might depend on the level of tech we’ve got at that point. I mean, how will cats do in micro gravity? And litter boxes are right out!

    Dogs, as a whole, are better travelers, but not being climbers like cats might find zero G difficult to adapt to.

    Now once you’ve got your dog or cat up to a proper space station with spin “gravity” that will help with the toileting issues for all species. And I suppose we’ll eventually find out if the subtle differences involving movement in a spinning space station are bothersome to pets who don’t understand the reason it feels a bit odd, when turning or jumping.

  2. It does, of course, take art to work it in.

    I talk about Fliss’s hair in A Diabolical Bargain but then she had a fever.

  3. “I was thinking,” Raina said, “Of cutting my hair.”

    Chief blinked, and paused in eating, leaving his forkful of scrambled stuff hanging in midair. In a less stoic man, that same reaction would have been measured in a dropped bulb of coffee, and startled profanities. After a moment, he put his fork down, and said, “Care to explain why?”

    She gestured around the ship’s mess with her own fork, in a tight, controlled movement designed to keep the conversation private while indicating the entire crew. “Everyone else here, male and female, has very short hair.” Or, like Chief, none at all. “If I’m to fit in…”

    “Ah.” A faint smile started at his eyes, though it didn’t touch his mouth. “But they’re all active duty, and bound by regulations. Whereas you, ma’am, are most definitely not. Your hair is an excellent way of reminding the sticklers for the rulebook of that.”

    She hadn’t expected resistance. “But the plumbing…”

    “Is more than adequate to handling hair. It sees worse things, trust me.” He put a palm down and away, indicating that topic was not for breakfast. She thought about septic disasters, and agreed with him.

    There were other practicalities. “If I understand correctly, Akrep wants me to learn suit drills, and how to work in EVA? The helmets aren’t designed for this much hair, either.”

    Chief eyed the red mass of locks that was currently confined to a thick, messy tail over one shoulder and spilling onto her lap. “That’s easy. You braid it around your head, and we get you a helmet one size up. Been doing that since before we went to space, for women wearing helmets of all sorts.”

    She put her fork down, and cocked her head to the side, considering him for a moment. “You don’t want me to cut it.”

    He met her eyes with a direct honesty. “Absolutely not.”

    She would not let her voice rise into a whine. Raina managed to choke out a tight, low, controlled word. “Why?”

    Chief’s eyebrows rose in a subtle signal of surprise, that she would even ask. “Because it’s beautiful. You know how few lovely things are on this ship? It’s just you and the shipcat. Give us half a chance, and we’d keep you in dresses just for looking at.”

    1. Oh, oh, the male gaze! Oh, the humanity! *snicker, snicker* Skirt. G-loss drills. Much disappointment as leggings are observed. *snicker snicker*

      And yes, a braid works very well. Do the Slavic “over the top” crown and you’re good to go.

      1. It’s part of an unconnected set of scenes around Shattered Under Midnight. Not a sequel or a WIP, because that would require a new problem or plot to solve, but not fitting in the bounds of the actual published story. So they just stay in my brain, like quartz crystals clinging to the nooks and crannies after the plot has cooled, and the muse moved on.

      1. It needs to be done up, then. Yes, it can serve as padding, but only in a location where that would be useful.

  4. The tabby in the first image looks as if he’s up to no good as soon as he gets out of camera range.

    Athena T. Cat never bothered my hair. GatoLoco, the Manx, thought it was a wonderful swinging cat toy, especially if I was sitting in my then reading chair and the braid hung over the back of the chair. Bat, bat, pat, pat, grab grab, leap.


    1. My father once said “God only made a few perfect heads, the rest He gave Hair”. 😀

      On the other hand, I still have more hair than he did. 😀

      1. I once had my hair cut down to one inch long, for reasons. At that point, I discovered just how many scars I had on my head. Time has only added more; I know that bald, for me, would not be beautiful.

      2. I have several times informed my husband it’s a good thing he has gone silver, not bald.

        Definitely not one of those perfect skulls.

  5. I mention hair, depending on which part of Mars I’m at.

    If a man knows the length of a woman’s hair, it’s a sign of intimacy because only your lover should know the length of your hair. The men grow every bit of hair out, never cutting it and they show it off.

    Outside that subculture, most people think that attitude is nuts.

  6. Note for characters in action genres: crewcut is a fine length for a haircut. So is long-enough-to-tie-back.

    “Long enough to get in your eyes but too short to tie back” is a DISASTER waiting to happen. I was wincing at some of the Winter Soldier stills: very photogenic, idiotic in a fight.

    Yes, hair can work its way out of being tied back. (Though generally by strands.) However, hair that long will stay that long. Short hair is fine as long as the character can be CERTAIN that it can be cut before it gets too long. Otherwise, when you get back to civilization, you cut it off just long enough to be tied back.

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