Before this whole mono thing, after making a haircut appointment, I showed F. some pictures of myself with haircuts I have liked in the past so he could choose his favorite. “This is nice,” he said of one.
“You think my hair looks good like that?”
“Oh, sorry, I was looking at the San Francisco skyline behind you.”
Of a selfie taken in my bathroom, he said, “Wow, this one is great—look how clean your shower curtain is!”
I ended up just having it trimmed, partly because F. really likes long hair. I also suspect that my hairdresser had been pushing for me to grow it out because she’s perplexed about how to cut such thick, bushy, wavy, coarse hair. It had gotten long enough that it could be put into a ponytail, and she averred that it was going to look very beautiful by the time it was down to my shoulders, but it was a good deal of work, all the various things that had to be done to it after I washed it, and after I started feeling lousy because of the mono, one day before stepping into the shower, I thought, “I just can’t do it” and picked up the nearest scissors and cut it off instead.
Every time I warned F. that I was thinking of having it cut short, which is how I personally prefer it, he lamented, “Don’t mutilate your hair!” Then I would explain that hair is dead. It has no capacity for physical suffering or aggrieved feelings. Henceforth, I refuse to serve as the life support system for a big wad of scraggly hair, and it’s OK if no one ever again thinks it looks pretty, though, oddly, the next time I was at the soup kitchen after that, I received a big surge of attention from our African American gentleman guests in particular, one of whom said he was feeling “miraculous” that day. He said, “If you keep working like that, I’m going to fall in love with you!” Then, leaning across the table toward me, he asked, “Are you married?” I told him I have a boyfriend, but said I’d warn him that a fellow who feels miraculous is in line right behind him.
Another man, older and white, noticed my haircut and recalled a conversation where I had said that people always want whatever kind of hair they don’t have. He said thoughtfully, “If I had hair like yours, I would probably wish it was straight.”