My second grade teacher Ms. Ayoob was funny, fair and almost seven feet tall. At Barnett Shoals Elementary School this made her a god among women—her clapping routines were mesmerizing and her kind giant-ness was an effective teaching tool, inspiring awe bordering on fear and a feeling of protection and nourishment at the same time. No one didn’t like her. Because I’m a “Z,” I’ve had to caboose every line I’ve ever been made to stand in. But that year this meant that I got some one on one moments with Ms. Ayoob, who told me more than a couple times how crazy it was that I had such baby hair. She wanted to know how I got it that way, but I was demolished that she noticed or would ask. I used PertPlus shampoo/conditioner all in one, couldn’t say why I was born with such flimsy, sag-straight locks.
My mother and brothers have moppy hair wild with charming, thick licks that stick together and flail apart. But since I’ve known him, my dad has had very little hair apart from his mustache, which is where my silk-thin, super-straight lengths must come from. I prefer my upkeep be radically low-maintenance, but my drab lengths have been my most nagging beauty problem. In middle school I blew our my hair with a round bristle brush for volume, but it always melted flat against the weight of Georgia’s humidity and pollen. Without an everyday wash, my mane looks flopped by the weight of the world, not spry in spite of it. In high school I superstitiously believed the best way to avoid that tender sag was to braid my hair in a low-side pony, get drunk and sweaty and sleep on it. When I unbraided in the morning, I’d achieved temporary texture that felt loose, dirty and easy.
It’s hard to work that kind of frumpy, contented glamor into city life. After each shower, I hope it will appear fresh and neat till the next, but know better than to expect it will. Sachajuan Ocean Mist, which they stock at Woodley and Bunny, a nice but not offputting salon near my house, is my compromise. Using it daily is a no nonsense routine that makes me feel like did my best to look kept and ready, no matter what happens. It doesn’t sit heavy and smells like cold algae air. I spray it on when my hairs damp, run a comb through once, tug a little at the ends then promise myself to let it be. It helps holds the little tuck-waves that bloom up in the shower, and maintain the tidying work of the comb.