Everybody has a talent. Mine is growing hair.
I come by this naturally. Sorta like how a hound picks up a scent and takes off.
All babies come with hair, but mine was in overdrive before birth. Mama claimed that right after I hit air, someone in the room said, “Look at those bushy brows!” There’s a photograph that confirms this.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for a full head of hair. Some say that it’s a gift from God. Mine, I think, was from a gorilla.
I’m with Mae West. “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” she said. Sometimes though, it can also be pretty embarrassing.
A few years later, things got serious. By high school, I had a pretty good mustache going. Damned if I didn’t spot the beginning of a goatee too.
The summer after fifth grade, I went to camp and two weeks later came home with a small wooden plaque buried in my suitcase. I’d won first place in a contest called “Girl with the Hairiest Legs,” the counselor announced. Had there been one for hairiest arms, I’d have brought home two plaques.
A few years later, things got serious. By high school, I had a pretty good mustache going. Damned if I didn’t spot the beginning of a goatee too. I was horrified. Both grew like an ant bed. Make that Rangoon Creeper vine.
Luckily, in those days there was this hair removal cream called Nudit. Mama showed me the white tube, where on the front it read, “unwanted facial hair.” Unwanted wasn’t the word for mine. Undeterred with an exclamation point was more descriptive. Twenty minutes after applying the Nudit, my moustache disappeared, only to grow back two days later like I’d just applied fertilizer.
Call it a combination of genes and puberty, but one thing was sure. When it came to producing protein, I had an engine that wouldn’t quit.
Fast forward to when I was 25 years old and about to get married. A week before the wedding, Mama and I went to see the lady who did her hair. We were supposed to talk about how to fix mine, but the woman got distracted. She honed in on my facial hair like a dentist examines your teeth. When I told her about the Nudit, she threw both hands up and laughed, saying that the stuff was old school.
“A wax job is all you need, sweetie,” she said. “You’ll be amazed.”
Minutes later, I was more than amazed. I was ablaze. My whole head felt on fire! The skin from my nose down was flaming red. Later, it looked like oatmeal. Flaming red.
For days after, I walked around with Vitamin E swabbed on my face and smelling like fish. Thankfully, by the time I walked down the aisle, the flaming red color died to pink and most of the bumps had disappeared. Instead of looking burned, now I just looked like a bride having one continuous hot flash.
Eventually, I learned, growing hair has benefits that go beyond us. Sorta like harvesting a crop.
Eventually, I learned, growing hair has benefits that go beyond us. Sorta like harvesting a crop. After the BP oil spill, I cut off 14 inches to go toward making hair booms. Booms are used to contain and absorb oil on the water surface. You could see miles of it in Louisiana but I’d never heard of booms made with hair. I don’t know if mine actually landed in one, but I like to think that it served the great Gulf of Mexico in some small way.
The most satisfying send was to Locks of Love in Florida. Wigs made from natural hair as opposed to synthetic can make a difference to anyone, but, especially, to a child who has lost her or his hair.
As I was putting the ponytail in the box, my husband looked down at what he affectionately calls “horsehair” and got a little teary eyed. It was a sweet moment for both of us.
“Don’t worry,” I told him. “In six months you’ll never know the difference.”