the mess that is me

I got a haircut yesterday. Almost as importantly, I got my hair washed by someone else, which I’ve discovered in recent years is one of the more luxurious things in life. (It took about a year of this before I actually relaxed while another woman was touching my head; but now that I’ve figured this out it’s become the luxury that I now know it to be.) It lasts about 3 minutes, once every 6 weeks. I was telling Karyn that it was a particularly good hair washing today and she lamented that maybe I’d leave her for the hairstylist. “Well, yeah, if she washed my hair everyday,” I said matter-of-factly.   

Yesterday’s hair wash was particularly useful because I was relaxed enough that my right eyelid wasn’t twitching. It’s been doing this microscopic flutter occasionally for the last few days. Maybe stress? Too tired? Voodoo witchcraft I picked up in New Orleans? Not really sure, but for whatever reason it was nonexistent as the woman who knows how to deal with my weird hairline massaged my scalp.

As I’ve been wondering about that twitch in my eyelid (it’s back today), I’ve been only a little concerned. It’s not like it’s the only freakish thing that is me. For example, there’s that hairline I mentioned. Down my scalp and towards my neck is some strange planting of hair follicles which, if I’m wearing a collar, traces a path that the external observer could only imagine continues forever until it leads to the tail that I had surgically removed when I was three. At least that might be one inference. Or perhaps it’s only a small tail, and I safely hide it in baggy clothes. At any rate, left to the wrong hands and trimming devices, there’s a temptation to trim my neckline so far up my head that it’s above the bottom of my ears. This happened once, unfortunately right before I left town to present a paper at a national conference. I’ve tried just letting it grow, but it really is as though a weird assortment of vegetation were planted there, and the hair grows in directions up, left, right, out — anywhere but down and anything but orderly. So now that I’ve found someone who’s figured out a reasonable way to cut my hair, I’ll gladly pay the $15 plus tip that affords a short haircut and, of course, a wash.

In between haircuts I’m able to mostly ignore whatever is growing up and down my neck. But I can’t ignore the unicorn hair in my forehead. A good part of an inch below my hairline, directly in the center of my head, is a single hair that grows straight out. It’s something like one of those lone trees you’d see growing out of a mountainside, improbable and solitary. I don’t notice it for weeks and then suddenly, one random day, the little fucker is poking right out. It’s particularly noticeable when my hair is particularly short, less growth shading the rest of my brow. I could try plucking it, but I know that would just leave a big red welt in the middle of my forehead. And that would look stupid.

I have a scar over my right eye from the time that I first “learned” to ride a motorcycle. I was 11. Fortunately, my eyebrows form an unruly hedge that hides any sign of my pre-pubescent lapse in judgement. The scar on my right hand is the result of my unwillingness to say “mouse” when my best friend in the third grade continually asked, “Man or mouse?” He was using the eraser end of a pencil, back and forth, on the back of my hand. It didn’t hurt, really. Not until later. I honestly remember thinking, “It doesn’t hurt; so I should keep saying ‘man’ rather than ‘mouse’.”

My eyes, I claim, are gray. But they change depending on the color of shirt I’m wearing. The grumpy woman at the DMV doesn’t buy it, though, so she marked “blue.” That was the same day that they took my picture for my driver’s license. Karyn asked why I made that face — one in which my eyes are open as wide as saucers, as though there’s an oncoming train, or perhaps a charging herd of zebras. I was simply trying not to look stupid. Funny how that is.

My left leg is longer than my right. I’ve mentioned this before. Karyn doesn’t believe me. However, when I’m standing straight on the balance board of the Wii, it quite clearly tells me in its not-so-polite way that I’m always leaning to the left. (It says something like, “Whoa! You have 52% of your weight on your left leg! What’s wrong with you?”) It’s simply because there’s more left leg and because of some simple physics. Somehow I’ve learned to live with it in such a way that I can lead a normal life. Most people hardly even notice.

Some of my oddities aren’t just physical remnants, but actual deliberate actions, things unlike my involuntary eye twitch or random hair growth. For example, I use a lot of hand gestures when I’m on the phone. Right, it doesn’t work. I also use a lot of hand gestures when I’m teaching or giving a presentation. On Saturday I was using my hands to show the audience an open book, and then realized my hypothetical book was facing me instead of them. Apologetically, I turned my “book” so that it faced the group. They nodded appreciatively, the same way you’d politely nod at the crazy person sitting next to you on the bus when he told you excitedly that he likes olives.

Speaking of olives, it’s almost time to head home.* I just need to pack up my stuff and throw my bag over my left shoulder, perhaps to correct the extra moment of inertia in my left leg. As my left-leg limps and my right eye twitches, I just hope I can make it home without looking stupid, just like I managed when I was getting my picture taken for my driver’s license.


*I’m also gifted in non-sequitur remarks.

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