Richard Wagamese is Ojibway from Wabasemong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. His new book, Indian Horse is available in stores now. Trade Paperback $21.95 ISBN 978-1-55365-402-5

By Richard Wagamese

I cut my hair a few years back. It used to hang to my waist and my wife said that it was hard to live with a man who had better hair. I don’t know about that, but I do know that there came a time when it just didn’t fit who I was trying to become.

Nowadays my hair is short like the brushcut I used to wear and hate when I was a teenager. It feels good. I feel grown up and mature and there isn’t all that fuss and bother getting out of the shower with four feet of hair to dry and brush out.

When I go to new barbers the first thing they see are the scars on my noggin. There’s a few of them and there’s a particularly nasty one on the back. It was never stitched and they always say, “Wow. Must have been a whack.”

In the old days I was known to have said, “Yeah but chicks dig it.” The truth is,  they don’t. That scar came from falling in a drunken haze and splitting my head open on a rock. Nothing romantic or tough about that and a chick would definitely not dig it.

But back then I really needed a way to cover up the shame I felt about that. Humour is always a good device and I used it well through the years. But jokes never really help you see things any differently.

There are a lot of scars on my body. They all have a story and for the most part, those tales are sad and hard to tell. Some came from bats and pipes and knives. Others came from fists or foolish blunders with tools.

There are a lot of tears to go along with those scars because when they happened my skin became broken territory and my heart went along for the ride. It takes a man to tell real stories and it took me a long time to become one.

Even if I don’t exactly cherish my scars, they teach me something every time I see them. They teach me that we wound ourselves the most when we don’t share the real stories of our time here. When we don’t own our hard times and share them.

It takes a man to get honest and do that – and you know what? Chicks dig it.