I thought I had a normals problem. My hair particles were reversed, and changing the normals didn't do anything. AND I noticed when I moved the emitter around, the particles always pointed to coordinate (0,0,0). Weird.
The solution was in the timing panel. The model was part of an animation that sometimes had hair and sometimes didn't. They way to do this is to adjust the timing panel (ending is 1.0 when you have hair, and 0.0 when you don't). With both set to 0.0, and the main mesh not displayed, it looked like my emitter was reversed.
Anyway, I hope this helps some people. Along with ALL the other things to look for if your emitter is giving you issues. Check the Timing panel.