I had not forgotten, but maybe neglected to recall my trials and tribulations with hair before reading the Henry Louis Gates essay “In the Kitchen.”
After I stopped crying during the cutting I’d be in the moment enough to notice when the barbour mentioned how wavy my hair was. At the time I hadn’t evolved to caring about that part of my appearance yet, I had bigger things to worry about, my teeth, my scrawniness was the problem at school aside from how shitty the haircuts themselves were back when my grandfather did it himself, oh those bowl cuts. At some point though I discovered that girls liked waves. Not that peezy shit I’d wake up with, all the knots and spaces in between looked rather homely even to me but I hadn’t considered why.
I was quick to get a wave cap and some Murray’s. That real thick shit my grandfather would put on the radiator in order to soften up. He’d taken things to their utmost conclusion from the gate though, always had some manner of perm/box cut combo which, as he called me a faggot every single day, made me question his presumed manliness. If my grandmother or whoever wasn’t blowing him consistently, mostly in a fit of tears at his raw domineering power, maybe I’d have had a case to call him out on, not that I ever would. Anyway, there was no way in hell I would get a fucking perm. If niggas thought I was gay just for being alive I’d have hell to pay if I came in there looking any softer than I already did on any part of my body, so Murray’s it was.
I’d grease up my dome every morning and night. Took longer in the winter though with the aforementioned thickness of the grease. It was hard to sleep with the stocking cap on for some reason though and my head would itch something fierce, but instead of scratching it I would brush it relentlessly. Funny how when I see niggas walking around with brushes in their pockets constantly tending to their hair, looking in every mirror they go by I laugh without considering that I was pretty close to being there myself. While I was using the grease I would get these lumps in my head that I thought were pimples at first but they proved to be too dense and wide and not typically poppable. The skin would be really tight around them and make me uncomfortable so I’d stand in the mirror squeezing the life out of one just to get a little blood and relieve a smidge of the pressure. Most of the time they were in the back of my head, but sometimes on the top where the skin was already super tight.
I couldn’t wash my hair much either while I was keeping them waves up. Since I wash my hair every day now after running or whatever it’s hard to imagine. I would wear my du-rag or stocking cap in the shower too and make sure no water touched it. It would always itch more while I was washing up and couldn’t scratch it of course. I remember some days I would be on the bus to school and forget to take the du-rag or cap off. I mean around that time du-rags became part of the style but I still hadn’t planned on wearing one outside of the house. I’d stroll into class trying to massage the wrinkle out of my forehead like an idiot, which is even funnier now when I see a picture of myself with the line riding across my forehead and the hair doesn’t even look that fucking spectacular. I felt I would look too hood wearing a du-rag outside but I ended up doing it for a while anyway, especially when playing ball.
Still, while I was a kid I never considered why I even cared (aside from the perceived ass I might get from girls in high school who might want to touch my hair). Why the hell I should want it to be wavy or more straight either way. Though it seems so obvious and really stupid now, I sometimes look at Jojo’s hair when he wakes up and I think damn that’s peezy, with a hint of disgust and want to tell him to go and brush his hair immediately. It’s hard to turn off the switch and just go heat up some water for the oatmeal instead.