Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baaad Hair Day

Baaad Hair Day
by Thomas Joseph
This picture perfectly illustrates the challenge my hair presents. Our family has some strange time-release curl thing going on. The older I get the more unpleasantly unstraight my hair gets. I have noticed the same phenomenon with my two older sons. Karsten's once slightly wavy hair would now be an Afro if he let it grow out more than his one inch limit. Kellen's used to be ram rod straight but now has more twists and turns than the plot of a good whodunit. Clearly their only future hope lies in baldness.

Being the owner of a head of bush curls I have grown used to the worn out comments I get from every hair dresser I have ever gone to. They are always obvious statements of fact spoken as if they are letting me in on a secret. "Your hair is so thick!" And its sister comment, also meant to be a revelation to me, the owner of the hair. "You have so much hair!" Some day I hope to get up enough nerve to have a pretend breakdown in the chair after hearing this distressing news delivered. The only unique comment I have ever been on the receiving end of was at my last visit when the hair dresser said, "You have such lovely salt and pepper hair." Note: this was not an improvement.

My worst ever hair experience occurred two years ago in China. Karsten, Diana and I had taken the train from Jinan to Tai'an, the city at the foot of Tai Shan, one of the Five Sacred Mountains in China. Due to time constraints we took the gondola up the mountain rather than spend several hours climbing up one of the two routes that lead to the summit.

The view looking down from the summit was incredible.

The summit itself was filled with colourful temples and unique food stalls.

After spending several hours exploring we hurried down the mountain to catch the train back to Jinan where we were expected for a special meal Diana's mom and yi mas (aunts) were preparing. We sat next to this sign while waiting for the train.

Karsten and I were the only non-Chinese in the station. In fact, I don't recall seeing another Westerner that whole day. This was towards the end of our trip and I had grown quite accustomed to being the object of attention. But what happened next stretched even my rather elastic ability to be a good sport.

I was sitting there totally zoned out when suddenly I felt my head move. The thing was I hadn't moved it, someone else had. If this has never happened to you, trust me when I say it is rather disconcerting. As I turned my head to see what was going on I heard Diana let loose with a stream of vociferous Chinese.

An older man, one who was clearly a stranger to soap and water, was reaching out to grab my hair. Diana continued to yell at him in Chinese. I don't know exactly what she was saying as I hadn't started learning Chinese at that point, but I think it is safe to say they don't teach any of those words in my Rosetta Stone Chinese language program.

He kept grabbing my hair. Diana kept up her rather impressive stream of Chinese. Rinse. Repeat. Apparently this poor man had never seen anything quite like what sat on top of my head and just couldn't resist the urge to keep touching something so unique. I am not sure why I didn't jump up and get out of his way. It all happened so fast, and I think a part of me was mesmerized by my daughter-in-law's performance. It was epic. Eventually he wandered away, leaving Diana sputtering and me desperately wanting to shampoo my hair.

It's a heavy burden being the owner of hair that has been responsible for a public incident.

For a hilarious story about a haircut in Slovenia check out this post at My Kafkaesque life. I promise you won't be disappointed.


  1. What? No pictures to go along with that story? Too bad! Hilarious!

  2. Haha... this is really funny, but I can relate to it. I haven't had people grab my hair, but that's because I always cut them short. Usually people here are more fascinated with my blonde eye brows. Luckily nobody dared to touch or grab, but your post will serve me as a warning :)

    And thanks for linking to my old post :)

  3. How odd! I can't believe people sometimes, and the ridiculous things they do.

  4. @Aneta - The Handicappend was the only picture I had from the train station. Somehow it seemed fitting!

    @MKL - Yes, blonde would certainly be another oddity in Asia. I am sure you get lots of stares and comments. Maybe people are more reluctant to reach and and touch a guy.

    @Jesse - I wasn't really that upset with the poor guy. I don't think he had encountered very many Caucasians and just couldn't resist touching what he considered an oddity. :-)

  5. Oh my, what an experience. I've never been the center of such attention. Even after reading the story I picture you with sort of a Julie Andrews hairstyle.

    I'm a fan of Diana's reaction and the way she had your back.

  6. Did that artist also create "Udderly Moooody"? =)