all of the selves we Have ever been
You might say we’re hair-brained.
I blame it on Ali McGraw. During our teen years my friend Kay and I wanted to look like Ali. Mostly, we wanted her long, thick, straight hair. It was difficult to tame our fine, wavy locks. The hairy romance turned into a horror story starring Dippity-Do and sleepless nights with our heads covered in hard plastic curlers the size of orange juice cans. As the years went by, we continued to be out of step with the latest hair styles, but that didn’t stop us from trying. We slowly shifted from Love Story to the Hair Wars Trilogy: stress, menopause, and aging. Dippity-Do didn’t do it for us, and our hair disappeared faster than Jedi morals. At last I could claim thinness, but it was the wrong part of me.
With the invention of the internet, Kay and I trolled like a couple of conspiracy theorists looking for ways to overturn natural selection. We both consulted dermatologists. We spent small fortunes on shampoos, chemical potions, powdery fibers, and essential oils. Nothing worked. At some point, we began to weigh the hope of voluminous heads of hair against the health risks of so many potions. We moved on to the more benign products: concealing haircuts, hairpieces, wigs, and a variety of caps.
We made frequent vows to “not worry about it,” to live in a Zen-like state of mind, to be brave and magnificent in our self-acceptance. That usually lasted until one of us heard about a new product or strategy. With the internet offering a cure a minute, our bravery and magnificence became as straggly as our graying locks.
Most recently, Kay called me with a new discovery: “apply raw eggs to your hair—it’s some kind of high protein diet for your head.” My friend continued with the internet advice: “Don’t get the shower water too hot or it will cook the egg making it difficult to remove from the hair.”
We discussed our reservations. Kay shared her fear that she would not be able to get the egg out of her hair and would awaken one morning to find mice nibbling on her head. Kay has a mouse phobia. In addition to growing more hair, her life’s work includes a daily inspection of her property for signs of mouse activity. The quality Kay desires most in a man is an exterminator’s license. And yet, she remained invested in this strategy. Ever-supportive, I said: “You go first.”
I checked in with Kay a week later. It was a hot summer day. “How’d it go with the eggs?”
“Well, it was hard to get them out. I went for a walk, and my hair puffed up like a soufflé. When a car door slammed, I ended up with egg all over my face. I am trying to salvage my sunglasses.”
There should have been a lesson in that, but I left the conversation with the idea that maybe I could tweak the recipe and achieve a better outcome. No longer one to say dye, I cannot seem to put the idea to rest. If you hear that I am being pursued by a fox, assume it’s not an extremely handsome young man.