Just about the same time as I converted to Judaism, my hair went curly. My sister said it was a freak hormonal thing that can happen to women in their early twenties, but as we now know, she cannot be trusted with the truth. I’m fairly certain it was the mikvah, the ritual bath in which a woman must immerse herself in order to become a Jew. Just prior to my arrival, the water had dropped below Kosher level and, in compliance with Jewish law, it had to be filled with water from the sky. You might, as I did, wonder where one gets water from the sky mid-February in Canada. Apparently, from the roof in the form of chunks of ice and, no, my immersion could not be resheduled.
I call it my convert-fro and it ate my summer vacation.
Even 410° of heat was no match for the coming-at-me-from-every-freaking-direction, salt-sprayed winds of Provincetown. I straightened my hair at every opportunity, but the moment I stepped outside, my hair exploded. A few days in, I started trapping it in a rubber band, only to be followed around by what looked like the tail of a slutty poodle.
To make things worse, I was traveling with a herd of fabulous men, all of whom were managing to look extra GQish and were racking up quite the collection of sideways glances from the local boys. I, on the other hand, was invisible. I looked like someone who’d been checked out of the asylum for the afternoon and was due back by pill time.
Eventually, I noticed a pattern emerging among my group. When the guys walked together, without me, they got more looks. Whoever got stuck with me became invisible as well and, although they hotly denied it, they took turns walking with me out of mercy.
At the end of the trip, we finally had a dry, relatively wind-free day. I bolted for the straightening iron. We all went for a nice dinner and drinks; I was back to my old self. We strolled along Commercial Street, slipped in and out of galleries and stopped for ice cream. My hair wasn’t exactly flat, but it was well within the range of a normal head of human hair. Or so I thought.
Every night, Commercial Street is dotted with gorgeous drag queens, dressed to kill, kibitzing with the crowds, trying to entice tourists into their shows. Miss Richmond, resplendent in her lime green mini, white platform shoes and matching white glasses, with a cardboard TV on her head, had attracted a small swarm of admirers and my kids begged to meet her. We slipped through the crowd and stood watching as she doled out various novelty items and used Kleenexes from her purse. For no apparent reason, she dropped her bag, looked up and stared straight at me. Then, as cool as someone who didn’t have a TV on her head, she sashayed across the pavement.
How cool am I? I asked myself as she approached. I glanced back at my husband and friends, barely able to suppress my giddiness. I had attracted the attention of this most famous person on the sidewalk. She could have noticed anyone, but she didn’t. She noticed me.
We’d just see who refused to walk with me after this.
Miss Richmond stopped and smiled a sad Diva smile. She tilted her cubed head and said to me, “Don’t worry about the hair, honey. We all know you’re on vacation.”