Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Failure of the Day: Hair

Have I mentioned my hair? It's usually something of a conversation piece; I can't recall the last time I left my house and NOT had someone say something about it. This was perhaps understandable when it was green or pink. But it's usually just brown and it's been brown for some time now. And still, still, old women on the bus, homeless men, punk rock chicks, and 6 year old girls alike are fascinated by my hair. All of this sounds horrifically vain, I know, but it's not that I think my hair is fascinating, it's that...well, the thing is, my hair is curly. That's not really such a big deal, I know. But my hair is really, really curly. It makes these Shirley Temple riglets all over my head and down to my back. Fine. That's what it does. I can't help it, and god knows I've tried. I've been trying to straighten my hair for as long as my arms were long enough to reach the top of my head. It's no-go. My hair insists, so to speak. It refuses to not curl. So it goes.

If you tallied up all the sentences I've said in my life, the sentence I have said more than any other would have to be : "It's not a perm." This is usually met with shock and sometimes outright disbelief. (Like the woman who insisted that she was a hairdresser and she knows that hair does not naturally do what my hair is doing. I had to admit the possibility of someone sneaking into my house every few months and perming me without my knowledge or consent to get this loon to shut up.) These are complete strangers, keep in mind. I am not inviting these conversations.

None of this is to say that I hate my hair or that I spend any vast amount of time lamenting it. Generally I think my hair is OK. The way I see it, my hair and I had a war, and my hair won. I accepted defeat and moved on. It's just that all these people, these elevator co-passengers and corner market clerks and what have you, they need to talk about it. They need to voice it. They need conversation about my hair. And I am generally a courteous person, and I can't very well tell everyone to fuck off a couple of times a day, so I let them touch it when they ask (and they do, they do), I tell them the brands of mousse I favor when they ask, I nod sympathetically when they complain that their hair loses a perm after one day. When they look at my pale skin and ask me what I am mixed with to get this hair, I explain that I am just Jewish and then wait for them to stop looking confused.

Ah, well. Today I have to wash my hair.


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