I have good hair. I know this because this was the mantra I grew up with. “This is my granddaughter, Evie,” my grandmother said to everyone she met. “She has good hair.” I felt really proud of that. Had no idea what it meant – perhaps it was my hair that was responsible for my straight A’s and excellent classroom behavior throughout elementary school. By that token, it probably was my older brother’s lack of good hair that was holding him back. And perhaps it was my hair – fueled by adolescent angst and boundary testing – that caused me to misbehave once I got to middle school. Could be. After all, it was in middle school that my mother permed it into an afro (a legitimate ‘fro: I could – and did – stash an afro pick in it) and to this day I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Did I – or my mother or anyone for that matter – think I needed MORE curl? BIGGER hair?
Things settled down somewhat in high school. That was a time – fueled by drugs and rock concerts – when it was fashionable (at least in my grungy crowd) for all the girls with lovely, well-behaving straight locks to perm their hair into a mop of ringlets and wear it wild. Suddenly, I was in.
When worn long – and heavy – my hair does run the risk of posing a threat to civilization as we know it. And as a kindness to all of humanity, I try to keep it short. It cooperates by being wash-and-wear which is a damn good thing because I don’t own a brush and only recently purchased a hair blower so I could look respectable for my author photo. A hairdresser once told me, “Stevie Wonder could cut your hair.” Unfortunately, Stevie Wonder didn’t come with us to Uganda, so I had to let St. John do it. He was convinced that he was practically an expert since he had thoroughly studied a slim volume entitled, “How to cut your own hair” before we left Brooklyn. And he did have a scissor, which gave him a big leg up on the local competition. Besides, I was delirious with malaria at the time.
Well, St. John cut my hair and seemed pretty darn proud of his handiwork. And from what I could see in the tiny mirror we had and the back of the spoon I had to use to see the back of my head, it looked good enough to me, too (let’s remember the aforementioned malaria here). That is, until we got down to the capital city and an ex-pat friend of mine took one look at me and said, “Oh dear, I know someone who can fix that!”