Mom and I were at the mall earlier today so I could spend some Christmas money. We stopped at Subway for lunch.
“Excuse me, is your hair naturally curly or is it a perm?”
I almost never get asked this since straight hair took over the world somewhere around 1990. The only people who seem to like my hair on a regular basis are Jonathon and my mom. And they *have* to, since one lives with me and the other is related to me.
“Uh,” I stumbled a bit, put off by the question. “It’s natural.” In the back of my mind played the scene with my ex-boyfriend and I walking the campus at Bethany and him asking if I did something different with my hair that day. No, I said. It’s just different every day because naturally curly hair does whatever the heck it wants. End of story. At the time, I remember thinking, Why do you care? I suppose I should’ve been flattered he even noticed.
“Oh, it’s beautiful! It looks really good,” the older lady with completely white hair said. I thanked her. You never know from day-to-day. It’s a crapshoot, based on humidity, diet, mood, pixie dust, the planets aligning…
“My hair used to be curly, too”, she confided. “All of a sudden, it’s straight. I don’t know what to do with it!” she lamented.
I felt her pain. I told her my hair did that, too, when I cut all the fat out of my diet back in my 20s. It laid on my head like a dead thing. I went to one of those fast hair places to get something done to it. Somehow, the English-challenged hairstylist left me with with an asymmetrical shag. The subsequent uber short hairdo was only after I went to a beauty college, in tears, asking them to “fix it!” The only hairstyle option left to me was the lackluster bowl, my hair had been so gnawed off. Not my finest hour.
The lady and I chatted for a few more minutes while I purchased my lunch. I was struck anew with just how darn friendly people are out here. Everyone’s so…nice. Even after 6 years, it still throws me.
The woman decided she wanted to get a perm. She missed her waves and ringlets.
My mom and I talk about her hair pretty much every time she visits. I talk about my hair a bit, too; it’s part of our unstated “subjects we must cover”, like a State of the Union address. Women are so connected to their hair. Maybe it sounds shallow, but it’s true. If you’re having a good hair day, everything is is just a *teensy* bit easier to bear. Kids complaining, no parking places at the store, jeans a little too tight today? No worries: you’ve got Amazing Hair! It’s like a superpower. Can I explain it to my men friends? Nooo. Just take my word for it. The day I got laid off from Harmony Hill was a good hair day. It made it that much easier to stomach the end of my job.
I know of people whose hair changed texture after childbirth or chemotherapy. So far, mine has been stubbornly consistent. I don’t know what I would do if my hair suddenly became straight. I think I would miss the unpredictability of this capricious, permanently attached accessory. Your hair becomes a part of you, for better or worse. There’s a certain beauty to wild things. Wild hair can’t be broken.