Sunday, August 19, 2007

"Bad Hair and Other Excuses for Being Single"

Dear husband,

Once upon a time I wrote an essay for a publication I shall not name -- under a name I also will not name (this was during the time I was involved with, and often writing about, the Man Who Shall Remain Nameless) -- sorry! -- where was I? -- ah yes, so: I wrote this little ditty about going on a blind date, when of course all I wanted to do was be with the Man, and rather than write a flavorful dissertation about the fear and loathing that is dating itself, I endend up writing about my own loathsome hair. It's a cliché of the worst order:

Can't control life (love) = can't control hair (hate)

Anyway, I digress. Here's a portion of the essay which, I am the first one to admit, is lousy! But seeing how being single used to be the singularly most important part of my identity for so, so long, I guess that's to be expected, right? Did I mention how much I love you?

I'll shut up now. Here it is:

The subway is delayed. The subway is always delayed when you’re going a blind date. It’s nature’s way—and by that I mean New York, naturally—of telling you that you need to slow down, take stock of your surroundings, count your loose change, and ask yourself: Why am I going out tonight with my cousin’s girlfriend’s nephew’s best friend? What in my life has led me to this one moment of equal parts dread and expectation? And most important: How do I look?

I look awful, of course. That’s because it’s a hot summer night, I’m standing in an airless tunnel, and I was in a mad rush to get here. I had all day to get ready for tonight’s date. Still, I left my apartment in a rush. Rushing is, as a rule, exhausting and self-defeating. For me, given a recent and nearly inexplicable bout of allergies, and allergy medication, any rapid change in movement not only brings my body temperature to a boil, causing me to soak through whatever wardrobe item I’ve already taken ten minutes to choose, but also triggers my rosacea, leaving my cheeks, upper lip, and neck with bright red stains that take up to an hour to fan out. Which is to say nothing about my hair. It requires time, and when I don’t have time, my long hair falls short of my wearing-my-hair-down requirements.

I have thick, curly, some would argue “beautiful” hair. In a perfect, ph-balanced, low-humidity, environment my hair, worn loose, looks fine. Good, even. The S-shaped curls stay in shape, the top of my head spreads out into smooth ripples, and I feel good. Pretty, even. During these rare moments I might receive a compliment about how, wow, my hair looks so nice when I wear it down, why don’t I wear it down more often? Why the buns and the french twists (with pencil, sharpened) and the head scarves? Most women would die to have my hair. It is beautiful. I am beautiful. And lucky.

What these kind-hearted individuals who offer unasked-for beauty advice do not and never will know is that when I don’t have the three hours it takes to do my hair—one: washing it, towel-drying it, putting on leave-in the conditioner; two: letting the conditioner take hold, beneath a (new, dry) towel; three: blow-drying the molded links to hang in line—it is impossible to control and must be contained in a series of knots, barrettes, or elastic bands. Putting these emergency contraptions to use, however, does not guarantee that my hair will stay in place. Kneading my hair into a tight bun, for example, causes tension on the crown of my head which, in rebellion, ignites into a field of frizz. An extra-hold gel is an effective taming method but for the residue that builds up and falls onto my shoulders. Add my common clothing color-choice of black to the equation and x = I might as well stay home.

Blind dating is based entirely on appearances. In this paradoxical formula chemistry is the missing link (+/- dandruff) and, as any of my high-school laboratory partners can avow, it takes a lot of broken test tubes to produce the right reaction. A scientist, and no doubt my therapist, might argue that the work is its own reward, that experimentation is the celebration of the mystery and magnificence of life. But I’m thirty-two years old, I haven’t had a boyfriend to call my own since I fell in love with my now-married sometimes-lover, and for fuck's sake I’m TIRED of seeking magnificence in everything I do (hairdos included) when all it is that I do is sit around my apartment and curse myself for not doing more with the time I spend sitting around my apartment wondering why I don’t have a boyfriend.

This kind of thinking tends to lead me in one direction: toward the mirror. If I’m feeling inspired, or guilty (though the latter is wont to encourage the former), I might use this opportunity to determine whether I am attractive enough to go outdoors—to meet the friend who I’m supposed to meet in ten minutes ago or, if I don’t have formal plans, take myself and the book I’m reading to a local cafĂ©—or, as is more often the case, stay the hell home. Especially when time

...I think that's enough writing/ranting (wranting?) for one day, no?


Queen Elizafrizz said...

Husband: You are right: Blind-dating is NOT based entirely on appearances. But you can't really ignore the implied oxymoronic properties of the activity either, right?


Wynona said...

Good words.