Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Faux Hawk

        Hair is one of the most prominent aspects of African-American culture. On the one hand, Black hair is incredibly distinct and often considered "difficult to manage". On the other hand, it truly is one of the most unique and versatile textures of hair that a person can possibly have. I, in my bi-racial Canadian life, have experienced aspects of both. I have seen processed hair, braids, waves, curls, weaves, sew-ins, and the occasional Black-girl bun. However, I personally have not experienced the kind of variety in the Chia pet that has been growing on the top of my head like many of my Black or partially Black counterparts. For the past 24 years I have simply watched my hair grow for a period of a few months and then I would simply go get the head bush trimmed to a more manageable size; rinse and repeat for decades on end.

            Recently, I have been doing my own hair. I've realized that it's more than slightly ridiculous to pay someone to simply run an electric razor a few times over my scalp for a period of 15 minutes and then charge me 20 dollars plus tip for their time. I find it more economically productive to invest in some Bic disposable razors and do it myself every 10 days. Today just happened to be day 10. So this morning I planned to grab my electric razor to trim the head bush then I attack the leftover debree with the Bic razor to leave a flawless Mr. Clean look as always. As I began my first stroke with my electric razor, it dawned on me that I have been cutting my hair the exact same way for over 5 years. In fact, I have had the exact same hairstyle for my entire life! Who does that? That's no fun! I have been blessed with a kind of hair which yes in the beginning freaked me out but I live in America now, a land where I can actually learn how to deal with my hair. No more excuses! It was time for a change!

            I always start shaving the sides of my head first and work my way to the crown of my head. I had made it approximately three strokes up before the epiphany had dawned on me that I was in desperate need of a change. I paused for a moment, stared in the mirror, and saw the possibility. It was clearly time for me to take my hair choice into my own hands and embrace a very popular Black hairstyle that has come and gone throughout the decades; THE FAUX HAWK! Yes, you know it well. This is when, for no particular reason, a person of color (or otherwise) has his head shaven with a random strip of hair that starts from the top of the forehead that goes all the way to the back of the neck. Naturally, most of us are familiar with the Caucasian version of this style entitled the mowhawk. But that would be far too much work for me to pull out the White half of my genetics, so I decided to stick with the faux-hawk. I had never tried or even considered doing this to my own head but I figured it couldn't be particularly complicated. I did one side of my head at a time just shaving toward what seemed like the center of my head until it was even on both sides. It's amazing how if you stare at something long enough, your perception of balance and symmetry can completely shift. I would shave off a little of the left to balance it out and then realize that there was now too much bush left on the right. I went back and forth for several minutes and then finally forcing myself to stop fussing and just settle with the imperfection lest I end up with only a dental floss width of hair left in the center of my egg shaped head. As I finally was feeling accepting of my hair cutting performance I realized that I was perhaps celebrating too soon. There was a challenge that I had completely forgotten about: the back of my head!

            Even when I am doing my regular bald coif it is always a bit of a production to make sure that I get every last strand on the back of my head. In the beginning, I mastered the two-mirror technique using a hand held mirror in addition to a large mirror on my vanity to double check that I got every nook and cranny around both ears and at the bottom of my neck. This is where the White half comes in! You see, even though my hair is of the Black variety, the copious amount of it that is beginning to run down my neck into my back is definitely the French Canadian heritage kicking in! In any event, most recently I have mastered the touch technique of just simply feeling my scalp in the back to make sure it is even without the help of even one mirror. However, with trying to create a symmetrical singular railroad track of hair running down the back of my head I figured it would be best to use a mirror this time. Unfortunately I had broken my hand held mirror years ago in a freak vodka cranberry incident in my bathroom. I learned then that drinking alcoholic beverages while doing one's hair is not the best idea. In any case, I had the task of finding a mirror to use. My neighbours were of no help but I quickly remembered that my roommate has several in his room. I grabbed one which was about as tall as I. I gingerly propped it up in my bathtub. I'm not sure what kind of depth perception problem I inherited but for some reason I could not figure out the angle of which to situate the mirror so that I could actually see the reflection of the back of my head in the vanity mirror. After several minutes of playing around I finally gave up. There was going to have to be another way.

           I decided that I needed to go for a new look. It seemed impossible to estimate the exact path of my faux-hawk down the back of my neck. I decided to consider a different option. What if I simply shaved all of the hair of the back of my head and just left a little garden patch on the top; like a golf course! It would be my way of paying homage to fellow bi-racial Tiger Woods! It would bring me such honor and grace to be able to provide a place on my own head for which Tiger could T off from! I had made up my mind! The only thing then was to figure out an appropriate place in which to end the faux-hawk. My head is an oval shape so it was somewhat difficult to determine the exact spot where the the top of my head ended and the back of my head began. After going back and forth in my mind for an inordinate period of time I decided to simply stick my index finger horizontally in a place that felt somewhat logical and simply shave off everything underneath. After several strokes and several minutes of watching my dry Canadian naps gracefully dance towards the floor I was finally done. I had created a lovely Canadian faux-hawk!

        It's very interesting to me how much pride we take in our hair; both men and women. Regardless of your race, religion, color, or gender, hair plays a huge role in one's self confidence. Unfortunately, I have the "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone" syndrome in the fact that I am only appreciative of my naps now that my hair line is receding. But alas, it is never too late to appreciate your head bush. And the time is now for me! I am so excited to have ventured into a new realm of headdress in my twenties. If not for my epiphany this morning I may have been stuck looking like Samuel L. Jackson for another 24 years! I am so thankful and proud of the miniature Canadian golf course that I have sculptured onto my own bi-racial head!

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