they’re real and…

last night,
a fairly regular occurrence, well, occurred.

i was walking down the street, minding my own business.
neither looking left or right in particular, but making eye contact with people as i am wont to do because i am admittedly a teeny-tiny bit of a townie (no shade) and i feel like it is good for neighborhood morale if everyone smiles like the non-manhattan-ites we actually are.
(regardless of how many of us would rather be manhattan-ites, but thats another story)

99% of the time – people smile back, and if i we know each other they say hello.

80% of the time they say hello even if we are total strangers and they get the “good neighbor” award for the day.

mr. rodgers

hello, neighbor.

ok,

less frequently they will think i am my sister. or think they know me from some event that happened in the early 90s by in which case again they think i am my sister. i looked like THIS in the early 90s.  it wasn’t me.  i promise.
i’m sorry anyway.

and oftentimes, more often than even i suspect it would happen… i get this.

friendly neighbor:  miss! miss! hello, miss!

me: hello there.

friendly neighbor: can i… can i ask you something?

me: uhm… ok

(this is usually the part where i look for the clipboard where the friendly neighbor would like me to sign something for the Human Rights Campaign)

(it’s not the Human Rights Campaign)

friendly neighbor: is that your real hair?

seriously?

SERIOUSLY?

is this my real hair? is that your real question? you stopped me from a half a block away to come charging at me out of breath to ask me if THE HAIR SITTING  ON THE TOP OF MY HEAD WAS GROWING FROM MY SCALP???

i’ve encountered many, many version of interaction that run from semi-harmless and inquisitive:

“is that your real hair?” “how do you get your hair to do that?” “wow!”

(no, i don’t really think my hair is worth a full-on “WOW” but it happens, and honestly its flattering, i admit it. i do this shit myself. i’ll take an accolade or two.)

but on the flip side, it can also be a beacon for crazy/rudeness:

“what IS that?”
(it’s hair, you idiot. the great tell to figure it out is the fact that its growing out of my head.)

“can you wash your hair like that?”
(why don’t you try to smell me and then find out what happens.)

“is that fabric?”
(you’re an idiot. go swallow something sharp.)

sometimes, this type of exchange is fun and i have a mini lesson on race relations with a stranger, to boot! sometimes i hear about someones jewish or puerto rican friend who also has “super curly” hair but how their hair doesn’t do “THAT” (hardy-har-har). sometimes i have to swat a reaching hand (only once). sometimes i smile awkwardly and move away slowly.

and sometimes, like last night. it annoys me.

i mean, i get it. i truly, truly do. i’ve walked around with some version of  THAT on my head since the dawn of my creation – except for some ill-conceived idea to try to make THAT aka my hair do the opposite, which did not end well.

wild wild hair book

i love this bookcover. not the idea. just the bookcover

very ill-conceived.

anyway, i know that sometimes if i’m in certain places or if  my hair is dyed certain colors certain people will consider THAT aka my hair a spectacle. this one time…
(wait for it) at art camp… in ROME.
i was followed around a department store by two clerks and four shopping women… no, not to see if i was stealing, but because they were taking turns reaching out to try to touch my hair and chickening out and trying again.

kids, the way to say “NO” in italian is “NO”.

anyway, i get it. people are going to stop, stare, look, point, ask, touch (get swatted), take photos unasked (seriously this happend) and generally be inquisitive. i also have a piece of metal thru the center of my face. not unlike this:

janet jackson septum

sorry, mom.

and sometimes…. sometimes my hair is the same color as the above, too.

trust me. i GET it.

but sometimes… sometimes the exchange goes like this:

friendly neighbor: is that you’re real hair?

me: (blank face) …yes. it’s mine.

friendly neighbor: …oh… well it’s GORGEOUS!

THAT
THAT is what makes me sick!

does it matter? really? really? does it matter if its mine by virtue of purchase or by genetics? does it make it any less “gorgeous”?

what if i had said “no, its someone else’s?”

well, if i had said that they probably wouldn’t have understood the joke ’til i was well on my way -if ever -as they are the type of person who chases  a stranger down on the street to ask if they are wearing a hairpiece. it is always as if they are tempering their compliment  on the basis of it being ‘real’ or ‘fake’. and usually they chide me if my  response is incredulous because they are trying to “give me a compliment”

should i ask – “is it real what? obviously its real you can see that it exists.”

i’ve tried asking if it matters if it is real or fake if it is visibly “gorgeous”, and usually it devolves into a “conversation” about how:

“black-women-don’t-ever-have-nice-REAL-hair”

or “black-women-always-got-weaves” or

“black-women-always-be-so-uptight-about-random-strangers-asking-them-personal-questions-about-their-bodies-in-the-street”

or somesuch.

and most times, sadly, i dont give this asshole a dressing down. i just say “yes” and then grit my teeth and move on to write a blog post.

but always, always, i want to say this:

and then i wonder if they are smart enough to get the humor on seinfield.
was that rude?
they started it.

kinky and curly?…well, knot today.

woman with natural hair making a face

hmph.

From Dr.Shonuffs feel it to believe it formula to Grandma Fanny’s KitchenAid to Mystical Magical Exotic Amazon Oil to regular old Dep and do it there’s a shit-ton of natural hair products, supplies remedies, regimens, routines and hairules for keeping hair that is in its natural condition in nice condition.

Shit tons of it. Most of it well documented. Video logged, scientifually broken down by kitchen-titians and aesticitians and supermarket-scalp-scientists.  But the plethora of this information doesn’t make it any easier to get thru than a thin toothed comb through 4B hair.

wild, wild hair book cover

(btw, don't ever do that)

my hair is HOUNGRAY.

me, as a person- i am alway hungry. ALWAYS.

and the only living thing i have ever come across that is hungrier than me – is my hair. i look at the dainty little jars of product that the natural hair care blogs are touting as the next best sliced bread and no split ends type thing and i can literally hear my hair laughing at that bottle. cackling wicked witch of the west style.

feed me, seymour

"i SAID... FEEEED ME"

“don’t make me laugh. that’s an appetizer” my hair says to me.  for $68 bucks a pop? i most certainly will not. (yes. i talk to my hair)

thimble

Now in FAMILY SIZE!

maybe if i melt down the plastic jar, too there will be enough to go around. but i doubt it.

so then what?

i have a bathroom cabinet purged of all sulfates and mineral oils and more hair ‘products’ from the WholeFoods than from SallyBeauty, and it just.. keeps… going…  both the food/hair products in my bathroom and increasing volume-to- hunger ratio of my hair.

i know. i know. i’m lucky.

on the millions of hairblogs that i have in my bookmarks folder one of the most asked and debated questions is how to achieve exactly that. How to Retain Length? (and then alternately: Why Do We WANT to Retain Length?) most of the time i want to pass out half way through trying a new style (or rebraiding, or washing, or the ever infrequent detangling).  and because of it i’m prone to just doing the most simple thing as possible  to it and keep it moving.

woman with paper bag on her head

"ready!"

 

between the mixing of my own home brew and the braiding/twisting/washing/detangling of the back of my own head i imagine its about the same work out that i would get carrying home enough of the popular store brand products to actually cover my head.

 

i still don’t really know what is the next step for my hair is. but at least i’ll never have to buy a shakeweight

shakeweight