A Hairy Affair

Frank Joussen

Frank Joussen

“Are you crazy?” his long-time girlfriend shouted at him. The small bathroom in their small apartment seemed to throw the question back at him and later he remembered that at the very moment before her outburst he had been wondering why they had not married long ago, and if they ever would.

“Spending all that money on hair restorer! How long have you been using this stuff? What about saving some money for that holiday on the beach with Chris and Pauline? On top of your sentimental old films and old music, you´re wasting your dough on this, this!  It won´t help you one tiny little wee bit, either!”

And she continued to ridicule him, elaborating on his hair in particular and his vanity in general. He could have held a lot against her at that point: her visit to the beauty farm with Sheila and Delia and God knows who, let alone her hairstylist, cosmetics de luxe, what have you. Instead he realized that he had been mechanically pulling hair from his age-old hairbrush.

While she went on he did so, too, only more violently. Otherwise he appeared to be quite calm and unresponsive. While inside he kept moving backwards, traveling far to a long-forgotten fight twenty years ago.

“You´re too stupid to stay in high school, too stupid to find a girlfriend, much too stupid to get the faintest of what I´ve been telling you …” he shouted a not-much bigger, but somehow stouter kid in the middle of a boyish quarrel.

The kid hadn´t said a word either. He´d just started pushing him and hitting him on the head. His efforts to push him back were feeble, at best, and before he knew it he was on the floor of their Scouts home, in the basement of their old church. The other kid was upon him now, two or three others from their group standing by, in a semicircle round his head. All he was doing to protect himself was holding his hands in front of face. It seemed to turn the kid´s hot rage cold. The hitting stopped and slowly, tentatively, he started pulling some of his hairs out.

“Right, Mike, give it to that smart ass. Thinks he´s so clever, we´re just dirt,” the others chimed in. And he knew they had found their real target, like hand in glove, or rather like a knife on a scalp.

“Something special for sure,” Mike confirmed, “something especially ugly!”

Yes, indeed. Ever since he had come on this exchange to America, people had kept telling him that his long curly hair looked “crazy”. Even his aunt, who was looking after him well enough, had agreed and bought him one lotion after another to make it flatter. The only long-term effect had been to make it even drier, more like straw than like hair.

Like plucking a bunch of straw from an unruly cardigan, Mike and the others were by now attacking his long blond curly hair, pulling out tuft after tuft. He couldn´t fight back, couldn´t muster the strength, although he knew deep down that his unmanly weakness enraged them more and more. Until they dispersed unexpectedly, some leaving the room in a hurry.

When he opened his eyes again, the leader of his little group was straddling his head, looking down at him in puzzlement. He sat up with some difficulty and looked at the ugly nest made up of the tufts of his unloved hair.

Back in the here and now, he looked down on the floor and dimly realized that she had thrown down his 100-dollar tablets and tried to crush them under her high heels. She had pulled back and was leaning against the bathroom door, panting more from her rage than her physical efforts.

“Why don´t you say anything, you stupid weakling?” He threw the hairbrush at her but missed even at this close range. Dumbfounded that the brush did not somehow stick in the door like a tomahawk his gaze went down to the spot where it lay, broken and impotent. She started to laugh, a sharp, horse-like laugh. He pushed her aside, storming out of the door.

His last thought in that apartment was that he had probably crushed her against the wall when he had opened that door. Then he ran away from another hairy affair with deeper roots.

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