Thursday, July 20, 2006
Today was a day for reblonding. It was my second to last trip...as a blonde, that is. After swearing up and down that it couldn't be done, that it wouldn't be done, that my color could not go a shade lighter...Jason brought me up yet another notch. I'm now a certifiable 11 on the blondie scale. Who knows if you can tell, but here's a picture.
I had lots of thoughts on my impending brunette-ness during this visit, much witty banter with stylist Jason, and of course, loads to report on the entire process of banishing the brown from my roots. Yet all of that is trumped for the moment by what happened to me once I left the salon:
They don't let you use credit card payments to tip the stylists at Liquid (to anyone who wants to make a pilgrimage to see Jason the great, please note), so I had to make a quick run to the ATM at Kosmos before getting on with my day. Standing in the crosswalk, I step gingerly out into oncoming traffic, prepared to wait, as there appears no end to the traffic in sight. But the cars on both sides of me screech to a halt, ceasing their good clip to let me pass by. Perhaps they were blinded by the sun as it glinted off my hair--in any case, crossing the street is never easier than when I leave Liquid. I see several heads turn out of the corner of my eyes as I walk, but pretend not to notice, as if it's always this way, as if I was born looking this polished and trimmed and "gorgeous" and blonde.
You see, that's how I feel today. "Gorgeous" in quotes, as though allegedly pretty, as though theoretically so. Like a different person on the inside than the one you see on the outside.
Two teenage boys are walk out of Kosmos as I walk in. Young, black, hip-hop gear, from the neighborhood. "Oh, you look so cute today," one of them says, and I'm taken off guard and I blush. "How are you today?" says the other as he holds the door open for me. I smile politely but don't say a word, and think about how unusual it is for boys this young to be so forward with me. Guys talk to me on the street all the time, especially in this neighborhood, but rarely boys as young as these two: tall, lanky, baggy clothes, cool as hell, and goofy. They can't be more than 17 or 18. The big tongues of their Nikes poke out from under the hems of their jeans.
"Oh miss, excuse me miss," the Kosmos guy says, as I try unsuccessfully to shove my debit card in the machine. "That machine is out. It's broken today." I turn my head to look at him: "Oh, thank you," I say, laughing at my efforts to suck water from a bone dry well. His tone softens, brightens, and his face breaks out into an interested smile, "I'm very sorry, miss. Closest machine is across the street," he says, with meaning and feeling, as though we're having a real conversation. He crosses the room to wear I stand, and makes a big show of showing me the Aguadilla Market, pointing earnestly at the bodega across the street. My hero. "You are looking very nice today, miss," he says. "You have a very nice day."
I shake my head to myself as I cross the threshold of the door into the fading afternoon sunlight. It's one of those days--I feel bewildered by all the comments, and though I'm mentally chalking it up to research, I can't quite get my head around it. All of this fuss...for what? Some blonde hair? And suddenly it occurs to me: this is my life.
The two teenage boys are still there as I walk out of Kosmos. I am hectic, shuffling around in my purse, trying to get my debit card back into my wallet and my wallet back into my bag, then remembering that I'm going to need both in just a moment, and make a desperate attempt to fish it back out...I'm barely paying attention, but out of the corner of my eye I see the boys looking at me and, somewhere under the sound of keys and change jangling in my purse and the litany of my own thoughts I hear them half-heartedly try to get my attention. Then, somewhere between all of these sounds slips:"Yeah, that's right, that bitch can suck on my dick any time..."
Suddenly, I don't want to be blonde any more. But I don't want to be anything else, besides blonde either. I shuffle my wallet into my purse, drop my enormous sunglasses onto my nose, and look half-heartedly to my left then to my right before stepping out into the street. I do not mind the oncoming traffic--the law of blondeness dictates that it always stops. I try my hardest to pretend I've heard nothing. I don't want to be blonde, and I don't want to be anything. I want to to bury that comment, that moment, that series of events in the rustle of receipts in my bag, in the jostle of keys and pens and iPod and notes scribbled on sticky yellow paper and lipstick and lip gloss and lip balm and while I fish out my phone, glance sightlessly at the face, and drop it right back where I found it, in the black hole of my bag.