I know I shouldn’t go to bed with damp hair, but honestly, at that time of night who wants to faff around with a hairdryer? I had been determined to get a shower after work, one way or the other, dreaming of luxuriant, scented steam. As usual, though, it turned out to be ‘the other’ as I stomped into the bathroom late at night, while the computer rebooted itself for the n’th time and set the water running. A quick scrub and with hair still dripping, I was back at my desk before the PC had chance to cough and splutter again.
I rolled into bed an hour or so later, barely even acknowledging the damp locks I had simply brushed back and left to dry. The regrets manifested this morning as I looked in the mirror at the small haystack of curls that has been christened the ‘thirty bullock bush’ in deference to its capacity for sheltering a small bovine herd beneath its madness.
I have been growing my hair for a while. I liked it short; practical, but quite limiting, but I sort of like it long too. Once upon a time it was very long, until one of my sons’ girlfriends offered to trim it, failing to take into account the nature of curls. Especially wet ones. She herself had lovely straight hair… but curls have a mind of their own and i ended up very short. Then there was the time I was simply so down I couldn’t be bothered and cut the lot with the meat shears. Surprisingly, it turned out rather well and I kept it short after that for years.
That morning, however, I looked in the mirror with narrowed eyes. No time to do anything with it. I scraped it back, wondering if there was enough for a pony tail yet? Well, maybe a very small pony, sort of Shetland sized… Okay, more your eohippus really. Nevertheless, an elastic band being found in the bottom of the junk drawer produced a tidy result with a respectably flared ponytail.
By the time I’d made it to my son’s, the ponytail was more of a short ringlet, progressing rapidly through varying degrees of tightness to pig tail. Not a glossy bunch of shiny locks swinging in the sunshine, more your single tight curl… as in an actual pig’s tail. By the time I got home, it resembled nothing so much as a walnut stuck on the back of my head. I dragged the elastic off and let it go… you wouldn’t believe how wild it can look with no encouragement at all.
I remember reading that ‘disorder is the child of authority and compulsion’ and I had, with some authority, compelled my hair to behave before going out that morning. The result was practical but not pretty and said hair had curled itself into a tightly wound ball that resembled neither its natural state nor the shape I had hoped for.
The pony tail had served a purpose, enforcing sobriety on the unruly locks, which, the moment they were released from bondage, simply went completely wild as if to protest their elasticated incarceration. And yet, this wildness is not how it should be either… left to its own devices without the intervention of hot air, tongs or the premature application of pillows, my hair dries itself neatly into something I would have paid good money for in the seventies. Its natural state is both more restrained and softer than anything I try and enforce, even though it may not conform to prevailing fashions.
Not unlike most people really.