The Case of the Hair Piece

There were actually two hairpieces. She purchased them from a Korean lady at a hair stand in the Washington Square mall. It was her first time in the mall and she had just enough extra money for the month to buy about 100 dollars worth of random things. This month she wanted a vanilla-based perfume, and then whatever else. Since she was getting the perfume at Sephora everything else to round out the hundred would probably be from Sephora too because all of the attractive sales ladies would impressively make her believe that purchasing extra little wrinkle creams and a volumizing mascara would make her look like Twiggy.
But she didn’t want to look like Twiggy as far as her hair was concerned, because everyone in Portland, all of the hip young ladies, were cutting their hair like that, and half of them were experimenting with being lesbians. And she neither wanted to look like a butch wannabe-lesbian, nor look like every other girl her age.
Unfortunately her hair was naturally thin, and she had it trimmed often at the salon that gave out free beer at each hair session, so she never could grow her hair out very long. And if she could it probably wouldn’t look very good anyway, and the neutral dirty blonde, light brown tone of it was irritatingly dull, so, she stopped at the hair stand. Just to look. And having taught in Korea she caught the eye of the sales lady, who loved her coat. And the coat was from Korea, and it sparked up whole branches of conversation from which the girl couldn’t weasel away.
Half an hour later she was walking out of the Washington Square mall with two hair pieces, many shades darker than her natural hair color, because the Korean lady and her assistant from Mexico liked her in chocolate brown hair.
At the Target next door she purchased chocolate Loreal hair color and at home she dyed her hair chocolate, and placed the two hairpieces on her head, and there they were, wavy chocolate brown locks cascading down somewhat frivolously just below her shoulders. She bobbed her head in the mirror, and the locks bobbed up and down, joyful.
The next day she wore her hair to the local Starbucks, except on her way to Starbucks she bumped into a boy from high school. This was a little eye-popping because she lived three states away from where she went to high school, purposefully trying to get away from both the middle of nowhere and the highschoolers she had been stuck with for five years after moving from a southern hick town to a northern hick town. Now she was in a west coast city, and again, here she was stuck. He hesitated as he walked past. She hesitated. Maybe his hesitation was to determine if it really was her or not. Hers was at first to determine if it was him as she wasn’t wearing her glasses and was near-sighted. And then her longer hesitation was do I really want to stop and what was his name again?
They were in cross-country together. He was probably just an inch or two shorter than her, but it always felt like a foot. Otherwise he was handsome, but far too short to be thought of too much. He was best friends with her best friend’s crush though. Her best friend, at least back in high school, thought his best friend was a Greek god. She would never understand this, as this Greek god had mousy blonde hair, and a cherry red face, and didn’t ever seem very bright, but everyone has their preferences.
She was a boring cliché for crushes, having crushed on the prom king/merit scholarship finalist/class president Mike who resembled Leo DiCaprio with blonde hair. Kind of, or maybe that was the star-struck love gaze of rose glasses talking. It was embarrassingly cliché.
She stopped and addressed herself. Hi, I know you.
Yes. I could never forget a Jackson face.
How’ve you been?
The typical talk. Except she lived in the same city, and he had taught English in the same city abroad. Everyone teaches in Korea. It’s not that big of a coincidence.
Too bad he was short.
I would love to talk more but I have to go.
Yeah, good to see you. I almost didn’t recognize you with your hair.
Oh yeah.
It’s long and brown.
Yeah. It’s not real.
It’s not?
No. It’s hairpieces.
This is where the gossip ensues. This is where I have evolved into more of a freak than I am already remembered for being, she thinks. Not that she would be remembered a wholelot, except she was always a little off. A little lisp. And she was in sports, and those make you memorable, for some reason.
And she had big eyes, big blue eyes, and even if the hair was dark and fake, it made her eyes pop like a movie stars. He was staring, she could tell he was mixed with a state of revelry and revulsion. She was staring at him.
Yeah, I ran into a Korean woman who insisted I buy it from her and I felt bad because she was lonely in America, and I remembered how lonely I was in Korea, and so I bought it, and I figured, hey, I should wear it, I paid enough for it. So there you go. But it is this color now, my real hair, I mean.
Oh. It looks good.
Huh. Thanks. I’m sorry, it is so good to see you, but I have to go. I live around here though, maybe I’ll see you around.
Running into old high school friends could be like running into old college friends she decided. Because these were the acquaintance friends, the facebook friends. And she quit facebook so it was the group of would-be facebook friends if she was still on facebook, but instead of, Hey are you on facebook? She no longer was embarrassed to try to provoke some intimacy that had never and would never really exist. Instead a simple, God it is raining so much! And Yes, this is fake hair, but it was for a good cause, it made the saleslady happy!, It makes me happy! A simple, yes I am a freak still, and more so and I never knew you but I can’t remember your name. I’m a freak but you remember my name. A simple, take care, maybe running into you again won’t be as anxiety-driven.
She went to class the next day, and it was hard to wear the hair because she felt embarrassed. Because everyone knew her with short hair. But it was a city and a college, and a theater class. So if she was going to wear fake hair in a class this was the class to do it. So she wore it to the seventh floor of the building, and sat at the drafting table where she sketched and designed costumes for The Infernal Machine and The Tempest. And her hair bobbed as she sketched. The teacher looked at her suspiciously. You changed your hair. Did you dye it?
Yeah. It is darker.
In fact, it loked like her hair.
It kind of looks like my hair.
You see, it was going to look like someone’s hair that she knew. Someone inevitably was going to think that she did it for them. Of all of the people in her classes and work and in the grocery stores where she shopped and on the street where she lived, there would be a hundred- plus different hair styles, from Twiggy blonde and short, to young Mia Farrow even shorter like an adolescent choir boy, to luscious and long, and curly, or straight, dark, and red, and light, and fake. All of the hair and fashion obsessed ladies and lesbians, and confused experimentalists, and hipsters that she knew mostly just in passing. One would inevitably have this hair that she had chosen. And they would think,
Ah, she wants to look like me. And she is wearing fake hair. How sad/funny/embarrassing/impressive.
She would think something. And it would be all a lie because she would also think it was because of her. And it wasn’t.
I’m working on a film project.
Not a bad excuse, she thought, as she sketched in a miniature head on the top of Caliban’s bauble, for a carnivalesque, Shakespearean fool prop.
I’m making a film for class in a David Lynchian style because this girl finds out she is dead, and Lynch has a surrealist dreamy quality to his work that I think it stylistically perfect for my short film. SO many of his women play with the concept of dark and light, symbolized among other things in their hair, that I considered a wig, but I got hairpieces and dye instead, and I’m wearing it around to get into the part of my character more. I’m filming it but I’m also in it too, with my ex.
This was getting to be a hefty explanation for not being entirely true. She looked around. The class was almost over and it was a work day so it was sparse in numbers, but the surviving class was all looking at her, or rather, at her hair.
She held up Caliban with the bauble.
Is this good?
Yes, the teacher said, lips impressively thinned.
She smiled.
Good. As long as I’m on the right track.
I’d have to see the rest of your work, but that appears to be a good start.
It’ll be good.
The movie sounds exciting, is it for class?
Yes, she lied, looking down at her pencil. And it’s due next week, so I have a lot of work to do.
As if to make it clear that talking couldn’t coincide with work, she looked meaningfully up at the teacher, and her thick chocolate locks, and then with a final pressing of her lips to symbolize, and there it is, that’s all I have to say, she lifted her pen, gazed down at her paper with intensity, and began finalizing each pencil line with swift, deep strokes. This would be the final version of the monster. The ultimate Shakespearean fool in green rags, and long, sweeping rust-colored locks. Caliban, followed by Ariel the sprite, and Anubis and the Sphinx form Cocteau’s The Infernal Machine.
All half human, half otherworldly and animal creatures. She felt like them: to some a fool, and to others, larger than life, like gods.
She also felt thrilled to be wearing hairpieces in public, among judging acquaintances, and looking good.
Life is too short, not to wear these hairpieces, she decided.
She would grow her hair like this, and once everyone knew her hair was fake, it would be real.
Like the Velveteen rabbit of hair.
She would stun them with her realness.


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