pfftWhat an amazement, my hair. It even fascinates me. When I get up in the morning, I often wonder what to do with it. Should I pin it back so it remains stiff and tame throughout the day? Or just let it fly, like rockets on an unyielding rope? When I choose the latter, it causes quite a stir.

When I was much younger, it was a problem and an enemy. While there are plenty of ethnicities in Bridgeport, there aren’t many ethnic haircare stores. There was Sally’s, which was a small haircare shop right across the street from American Steakhouse. They catered to the kinks and coarseness in a mane not often seen in whites (whatever that means). Most of the products were home treatments for perms and relaxers. I wasn’t introduced to this form of hair torture for another couple of years. Talk about self-penance! Until then, I was reduced to haircuts that simply did not flatter my ever-growing fro. The hairstylists from Supercuts hardly styled ethnic hair. Well, maybe not the Supercuts in New York, but, definitely in Fairfield. Their solution to my naps? Cut high in the back, keep long in the front… and let the kids have at me for looking like a clown. It was then that I knew urban survival was key, especially if I wanted to avoid the endless spitballs and kamikaze staples that I would find in my hair.

Hello, Weave! Getting hip to the trends of my pre-teen years, I took what I saw from the natural beauties of Jamaica and decided to keep to my hair braided. By junior high, I had the most bangin’ braids ever. Perfectly cropping my cheeky, fat face at a time when my body was a welcomed interruption in young men’s lives. I kept the weight on, consumed cinnamon buns, and my braids in perfect shape… well, sort of. No one schooled me on the maintenance of fake hair, and soon my inner roots hiding behind my perfectly bound tendrils started to breaks free. It was like a black smog surrounding an once unnoticeable and, thus, ordinary hairdo. Finally, I had to spend those excruciating hours by pulling and yanking the dark mess out of my defiant curls. Well, I wouldn’t let them win that easily.

I barely went through my high school without a single strand of my once frizzy inconvenience flat-ironed and, thus, perfect. I enjoyed hearing the ends burn with a gratifying sizzle, seeing the once natural kinks now unnaturally conformed. This did come with certain nuisances… like spending hours in the stylist’s chair. And.. my almighty rivals… rain and humidity (We’ve made amends; I enjoy walks on a stormy day). Once my roots were exposed to even an ounce of exposure, my sleek blades of awesomeness would cringe and curl into a full blown rebellion. I was fully stocked with umbrellas and hats.

Then, the college bells chimed. I was in a new state, with new (or old) problems. What would happen to my hair? What would happen to me? I continued to spend my Sundays indoors, saving my graces with a secondhand straightener and too much time wasted on my nearly destroyed curls. So, I took the scissors to them one more time, and promised not to care so much.


My hair is much bigger than years before. If I keep it going for decades to come, maybe I’ll disappear and my hair will be the only reminder of me left.

In Connecticut, I was a freak. Here in NYC, I’m sort of a trend. Between Friday and today, I’ve recorded the following numbers:

7 The # of people who asked me if they can touch my hair.
3 The # of people who’ve felt the need to bury their face inside of my hair.
30 The # of people who’ve commented on my hair.

Most of these people are passers-by and strangers who spotted my ‘fro from afar. One of them was a random waiter in a restaurant I’ve never been to!

Most times, I don’t mind. I’ll laugh along and smile real nice because for a long time I didn’t appreciate what I had. But, there are moments…

-Like today. An assistant to a high-profile designer came in today for a few trims. He saw the abundance of curls on top of my head, and proceeds to make a big fuss about it. Laughing and running his fingers through my locks, he says to me, “I wish I could take you home with me. We could curl up together and I could use you for a pillow.” He’s gay, most male designers are. And, sure, he could have meant it in a very harmless way. But, underneath all of this softness is a person… or did he forget?
-And the guy selling his CDs on the street. A black dude hiding behind his growing dreadlocks and stubby facial hair. Holding his music proudly like a street preacher with Christ pamphlets, I knew as I walked by that he would spot me, like I was on fire with sin. And he did. C’mon sista, help another brotha out. I ignored him (like everyone else did) and kept on walking. Suddenly, he yells after me, Yo, don’t just wear the fro, be the fro. I knew exactly what he meant. It’s the same type of “black solidarity” I’m expected to submit to when brothas on the street shout at me like I’m nothing, and can’t understand why a sista with an Angela Davis hairdo won’t give them the time of day. I am strong and all about ethnic power. But, I don’t stop for assholes.

My hair is strange. When I die, I want it to be removed from my head and made into a wig. Let someone else wear it for a lifetime :)

    • Kai
    • February 9th, 2010

    Yes! Your hair is amazing ^^

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