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.

i want lisa bonet to be my life coach

lisa bonet

professor bonet/moon

I want to take a self-improvement course with Lisa Bonet as life coach.  Anybody who has been wedded to or life-partnered by both Lenny Kravitz AND Jason Momoa needs to teach a  class.

Anybody who has been wedded to or life-partnered by both Lenny AND Jason and can have them both whipped   hypnotized   blasted on peyote or some other natural yet eclectic hallucinogenic  on good terms off the strength of her abilty to make any scenario in which she is involved infintely cooler needs to teach a class, write two books  with diagrams and quizzes and  have a motivational speaking tour.

She makes things like this happen.

She makes things like this happen.

She’s bohemian, creative, mysterious, independent and gorgeous — all the top things that I had on my ‘when i grow up list’. Controversally (at the time) nude in a film as opposed to the more popular and timely naked on the internets via cameraphone, she’s famous for the body of work that she’s done and not for getting out of limos with no panties on unlike  so many other actresses who grew up on camera. Not that I am assuming that shes never participated in ‘crazy hollywood’ behavior. She’s just better at keeping it underwraps. Managing how to do that could be a class on its own.

lisa bonet yoge

obviously she is skillful at amazing feats of balance

When she randomly pops up in some big buget movie or prime time TV show its like a blip. Its like peripherally seeing a ghost. You say- “hey wasn’t that-?” but then she’s gone before you can finish the sentence.

She was  everyone’s favorite Huxtable  kid. And A Different World lost more than a little when she left. Whitley Gilbert was not an acceptable stand in, IMO.

Nice Try.

(sidenote: You can just tell Whitley Gilbert was like a third generation Jack &Jill kid. Does that make me jealous? A little bit.)

(sidenote: I’m wearing the  skirt she has on right now.)

Anyway, this How To Win At Life class would probably be taught somewhere kind of like the  Learning Annex,  keeping it accessable because Professor Bonet/Moon (in my head) seems like the kind of person that would want to empower the masses.  There would be field trips to visit practicing shamans and to planetariums  and to local artisans who would give a lesson on how to make our own hand tooled (vegan) leather knapsacks and jewellry.

Vanessa Paredis would be a guest lecturer. Angelina Jolie would  come too, but she’s in a helicopter working on the syllabus for her own class next semester.

When I was just a lower case k, we used to play the Lets Pretend to be Characters from that Popular TV Show game.  When we played Brady Bunch I had to be Jan. If we were playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I had to be  Irma.  And that tells you everything you need to know about me as a kid.  I understood my role in society and in the afterschool game hierarchy.I accepted it. But if it was The Cosby Show day it was game ON. I didn’t care who I was in life currently I was practicing for who I was going to be.

And technically, I was more a ‘Rudy’ (precocious, borderline annoying, youngest sibling that the older kids alternately ingored, treated like a pet, or tried to force feed non-food objects)  than a ‘Denise’ (bohemian helion whose parents knew  was smoking weed upstairs but were too tired from life to ask about it). And as  I grew, I became more of a ‘Vanessa’ type teen (awkwardly trying to emmulate what they saw the older kids doing before they all took off for places unknown like ‘college’ or ‘overseas’ or ‘band roadie’ but was about seven-to-ten years too late. Like a Deadhead anytime after… well, ever.)

Happily, I’ve gotten my life more evened out now. I think I’ve come into my own a little bit more from thinking asymmetrical haircuts were cool, (technically seven years too early).  I’m doing my own thing. But I truly think my life would  benefit- the world would benefit from a signed copy of the take home manual and audio lecture  on CD.