Not too long ago Mopsy and I were shopping and, as we headed for the store’s exit, someone called me. I turned around and saw an older black woman sitting on a bench in the shoe section. She waved me over.
“I just wanted to ask you — ” she looked around. There were people near enough to hear, but no one seemed to be paying attention. She seemed concerned about them, however, waved me a little closer.
“I just wanted to ask you — ” another quick glance around, “I don’t want to say it too loud, just in case. Is that a piece?”
“A piece? Oh, you mean my hair? No, it’s all mine.” I was wearing my ‘Everybody Loves a Black Girl’ hair that day (just as I am today … alas, still no twists … ).
A piece? Really now, I ask you: does anyone seriously wear a fake afro? Yes, there are the stupid afros people put on at Halloween and all, but my hair isn’t rainbow-colored or made of yarn like the fake locks that come attached to Rasta tams. Who wears fake natural hair not as a joke?
And how cute was she to want to be all confidential with her question? Not asking loud … you know, just in case. In case of what? Meddlesome kids being inspired to run past and rip off said ‘piece’? The cashier pointing out my fake hair to a room full of women half of whom were sporting some fake hair of their own?
No, no ‘piece’ here. Just me in my happy nappiness out and about. She just kept staring at my hair. “How do you comb it?” she asked.
Yes, this is the standard next question. How can I possibly comb this mass of kinks? Because that’s supposed to be the reason women ‘need’ to straighten their hair, hair as unabashedly kinky as mine is ‘impossible’ to comb.
[sigh] There is so much to say about kinky hair and black people and, and, and … and it’s much too much, like trying to cram a whole pie into this one little Slice Of Life story.
How do I comb it? “Slowly,” I said, as Mopsy and I continued on our way.
Check out the other slices at Two Writing Teachers