While my hair situation made for an interesting smell, I was able to keep it a secret for several months. There were a couple of close calls though.

Case in point.

I had never had a pedicure before. I wished I could have had one earlier in my life when I would have cared, but I knew it was important to my mom to do this for me, so when my dad came to get me to go, I went. We waited in the front end of the salon for a few minutes til we were called back. She didn't ask why a 20-year-old woman would need her father to accompany her to the salon. But I was glad he was there. She led me to a chair. "So what are we going to do with your hair today?"

Oh no.

"Not a haircut, she's here for a pedicure." Without even knowing it, my dad had saved the day. He was very good at that.

She laughed at herself. "Oh, okay. Let's go pick some polish then."


I knew time was up when Mom said, "I haven't seen your hair down for so long. Let me comb it."


The reason she hadn't seen my hair down for so long was because every time I got out of the shower, I immediately wrapped it in an elastic on top of my head. My long, thick, naturally curly hair had once been one of my favorite features, but those days were long gone.

I had followed this routine for several months now which meant while washed, my hair had not been combed since I felt well. Come to think of it, the cleanliness part could be argued as well. I wasn't too concerned with doing a thorough job of washing or making sure all the shampoo and conditioner rinsed out either. 

She sat behind me and started pulling out the elastic. This was going to be a moment.

She was unable to mask her horror as my hair fell to my shoulders in five matted clumps. I don't know much about dreadlocks, but I believe these were a pathetic equivalent.

I knew a predicament of this magnitude would have caused the who-I-once-was-me to melt into tears of shock and embarrassment, but apathy was my mode of survival these days. My mom worked at it with a pick for several minutes. "This is just one big mass," she said. "I don't think I can fix it. I think we're going to have to cut it."

Apathy flew out the window. The thought of butchering my hair would finish me. It would be like surrendering the last recognizable part of me I had left. My mom and sisters were surprised at this passionate display of emotion.

My mom went to the bathroom and returned with a bottle of conditioner.  She dumped it heavily on each clump and worked with a renewed determination. I don't remember what was on tv that night, but I remember sitting in front of it for hours as my momma combed and untangled and extricated my hair from the clumps of knots that held it captive. I remember feeling like nothing short of a miracle had occurred once it was all free.

 After a thorough shampoo, I sat in front of my momma for another half hour while she blow-dried and straightened my hair. 

I looked in the mirror. I looked like me. I felt more like me than I had in a long time. And that interesting smell that had followed me for several months was gone.

Going to school the next day, I felt attractive for the first time in a long time. Too bad the outside isn't a true reflection of the inside, I thought. 

But I'll take it. 

Next Chapter: No Good Deed