After sporting dreadlocks for the better part of 20 years, I recently decided that it was time to abandon my flowing mane for a hair style that won’t provoke people to ask me if I have street grade horticulture on my person - an untamed Afro that gleefully destroys any pick or comb that it comes across. There are a few reasons that I chose to make this life altering decision: For one, maybe good old father time was the culprit, I don’t know, but I’m sure that the weight of my dreadlocks wasn’t doing my hairline any favors. I didn’t want to wake up one day and be one of those people who held on to a hairstyle way too long. I kept thinking about that prospect like it was a DirectTV commercial: “You don’t want to wake up one day and be Stevie Wonder. Don’t be Stevie Wonder!” Also, so many emotionally devastating things happened during the tenure of me having dreadlocks - everything from the death of my father, my mother’s cancer, that 5 year stint that I thought I was dying, the severe bouts of depression that that brought on, alcoholism - as much as I loved my hair, I realized that it also acted like a sponge that soaked up all of those traumatic experiences. I sincerely felt that I’d never escape that pain fully until I freed myself of something that occasionally made me do Cher-like hair flips that had people questioning my hetero street cred.
So, after about two months of dragging my feet, telling people on twitter and everywhere else that I was going to do the “big chop” - it finally happened in Los Angeles California. You know, I always thought that the whole affair would either be something akin to catching the holy ghost or something short of an exorcism. Hyperventilating. Tears racing down my face as a pair of scissors closed on each hair coil. A spiritual cleansing of all my demons, with black smoke shaped evil spirits exiting my body - pissed the fuck off that I was evicting them from a place that they called home for so long. But it was none of that. It was just me sitting in my girlfriend’s apartment, with her sitting on the bed and me sitting on the floor between her legs - her very casually chopping one dreadlock off after another like it was just another garden variety chore that she was marking off her daily checklist. We then proceeded to take a shower together where she lovingly washed the hair that survived her proverbial air strike, her taking absolute joy in seeing me bug the fuck out as water from a shower head massaged my scalp in ways that I hadn’t experienced in 16 years. It was a beautiful experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, an experience that me and my love will reminisce about for years to come. But no crying. No hyperventilating. No evil spirits. It was just a motherfucking hair cut.
But I have noticed some truly intriguing things since I cut my hair, here are a few:
People still touch my hair: I really thought that this shit would stop the moment I cut my dreadlocks off, I really did. As I saw my dreadlocks laying lifeless on my girlfriend’s apartment floor I just knew that the days of people inappropriately touching my hair, smelling my hair, and tugging my hair were over. Boy was I mistaken. Now, since apparently no one they’ve ever known has ever gotten a haircut before, people absolutely marvel at my shorter style - feeling the need to touch and inspect it the same way people inspect fruit for ripeness. Please, for Christs sakes, get your hands off of me you fucking psycho.
People’s surprising disappointment: One curious development post dreadlock chop is people’s utter disappointment at my latest hair choice. The exasperation behind such statements like “Why did you cut your hair?” and “Oh no, I loved your dreadlocks so much?” has been somewhat bewildering. This one woman I know damn near broke into tears because of it. Another woman said, “You WERE your dreadlocks. I don’t even know who you are now.” Thanks a lot lady.
Dreadlocks as a limb: You always hear amputees talk about how they will sometimes want to scratch a limb that is no longer there. It’s an imperfect analogy I know, but sometimes I find myself flipping hair that is no longer there. Having the feeling of hair grazing my back. Attempting to un-tuck hair from the collar of a shirt that I just put on. It’s been more than a month since the most memorable haircut of my life and I still find myself doing those things.
The reason I throatchop: I just realized something important: The reason why I made throatchopping assholes my go-to move was because of my dreadlocks. See, as my hair grew it became quite the liability in terms of the sweet science of kicking drunk strangers in the teeth. I’ve seen one too many girl fights where someone’s long, luxurious weave quickly became their biggest nemesis - so throat-chopping became a rather economical way in preventing that from happening. Besides, lighting someone up while they gasp for air is good old fashion American fun.
My hair won’t let go of the dream: I love my Afro, its a lot like me: Ornery, Untamed, unmanageable, and doesn’t give a single fuck. And because it doesn’t give a fuck, I’ve noticed that large sections of my hair have coiled up and started the process of locking on it’s own. Sure, I’m somewhat enabling it by vowing to never run a pick through it - but the last thing in the world I want to do is grow dreadlocks again. But each day I seem to notice a new little coil on top of my head. For Christs sake, let it go already. I have.