You wish you had hair like this…
Ur-um, no mom I don’t.
With the return of summer weather, my family and I are back on the front porch people watching. In my mom’s neighborhood, most of the original homeowners have long since died out, and their homes are now rental properties with many of them being subsidized by Section 8. Every summer, there’s a new crop of folks in the neighborhood…families with kids ranging from babies and toddlers to older teens.
Well today the block was in rare form. My mom’s house is now in the heart of the hood, and with that comes its share of characters who walk up and down the street and provides us with cheap entertainment. We’ve got nick names for everybody. The alley kids, the back alley kids, the corner kids, the round boy, the pregnant guy, the “touched” family, the loud mouth lady, the potty mouth lady, the freeloaders etc., etc., etc. I swear if you hear us talk, you’d think we were the ONLY normal family in the neighborhood, and actually, you’d be about right. If I could, I’d move my mom out of there but she owns her home, and although she has chronic lung disease, she’s still holding her own so for now, she’ll stay put.
Anyhoo, the little girl three houses up only comes down to my mom’s house when she sees my niece, and she has nothing else to do. She a fast ass child of 14 and really bad news. She’s learning disabled, and has a horrible speech impediment, which makes her very difficult to understand. Her growth is also stunted so she looks like she’s about 10-years-old, but she has a knock out little shape. Always runnin’ around behind little boys. In the evenings when it’s dark, she can be seen walking down the street to go to the store, when she’s supposed to be in the house. Her older sister is supposed to be keeping an eye on her when their mom is at work. But miss thing is a baby making machine and really doesn’t care what her younger sister is doing. Honestly, I predict miss fast-ass will probably follow in her footsteps; she’ll be a baby mama before finishing high school if she makes it that far.
Miss Fassy came down to the house yesterday and told us she no longer went to a certain school, that she was now going to such-and-such junior high. Since my sister is a teacher, she knew all the right questions to ask and it turns out, she was kicked out of her old school for fighting too much and reassigned to her new school. No surprise there because she’s alway keeping stuff going with the neighborhood girls. Listening to her talk, she obviously thinks she’s the baddest thing on the block. It’s funny cause, she is ALWAYS calling someone a bald-headed so-and-so, which is laughable coming from her since she has less than a snap of hair on her own head.
After she left, we remembered she was expelled from summer school last year because she stole $20 from her teacher’s purse. “I didn’t know it was the teacher’s purse,” she had told us last year, as if stealing from someone’s purse, other than her teacher’s would have been ok. As you can see she’s obviously “touched” too.
Well today, she’s up the street runnin’ around with a baby on her hip. Next thing you know, she’s down at my mom’s with the baby, who’s clad in only a diaper and a little top that says “Baby Diva” on it. Her top was kinda dirty but not horribly so. But I have a thing about dirty babies, and in her case, it wouldn’t have taken much effort for her mom to put a clean top on the child before she took her out the house. I also have a thing about children runnin’ around in just their diapers. To me, the child is basically out in public in her underwear. I know she’s a baby but dang, to me and my family, children should not be half dressed in public.
I reach out and take her in my arms and hug her all up. Pretty little thing, with the biggest brightest eyes you’d ever want to see. We find out her name is Aleigha and Miss Fassy is babysitting her “Godsister.” We also find out Aleigha is of mixed parentage — her mom is white and Asian and the baby daddy is black. Ok. This definitely explains the “exotic” look she has. She’s simply adorable with her “bah-bah” full of some carrot-orange colored sugary drink stuck in her mouth, and she seems incredibly content especially since she’s now around a bunch of strangers. Since she’s in my lap I start smoothing her hair, and that’s when me and my mom have yet another good-hair, bad-hair conversation.
Mom: “Oooohhh…. look at her hair. It’s soooo pretty.”
At this point, Miss Fassy darts off the porch leaving somebody else’s baby with a bunch of strangers. “Hol on, I be ri ba,” she yells over her shoulder. Translation, “Hold on, I’ll be right back.”
Alrighty then. Our conversation continues.
Sis: “It looks greasy…they need to wash her hair.” Aleigha has loose curls going on that looks like it styles up easily with just a few strokes of a comb or baby brush and probably no styling products.
Me: “It’s not greasy, it just needs a little brushing that’s all,” I say.
Sis: “Oh…from here it looked greasy.”
Mom: “Yeah her hair is gorgeous, look at it.”
Now these days, I don’t go out of my way to fawn over looser textured hair, curly, wavy hair or any other kind of hair that isn’t straight up nappy. It’s not that I can’t appreciate a beautiful head of hair, no matter the texture. It’s just that at this point in my life, I am done throwing that type of karma into existence at the expense of nappy hair, especially in front of my mom and sister since they’re so stuck on “good hair.” So at this point, I just ignore where my mom is trying to take this conversation.
I continue holding Aleigha while my niece and Miss Fassy chat for a moment. All the while, Aleigha remains quite content to just sit in my lap, suck bottle and take in her new surroundings. I continue finger combing her hair into place.
Me: “It’s almost like she has a hair cut. It’s falling into place so easily. Look at it,” I say to my mom.
Ugggghhh why did I even go there cause it seemed to be just the opening she was waiting for.
Mom: “Yeah, you wish you had hair like that,” she says. Now by “you” she meant black folks in general, but including and especially her. While I still find this to be a sad commentary, I try hard not to engage in these good hair/bad hair conversations with her. Now what’s interesting about this, is she knows how I feel about my hair, yet she can’t stop describing folks as having good or bad hair. She’ll never change her way of thinking on this, and I certainly ain’t wasting my energy trying to convince a 76-year-old woman otherwise. But on occasion, I do have to speak up. And this was one of those occasions.
Me: “No mom, I don’t,” I say matter-of-factly. “I’m quite content with my hair.
From my mom, complete silence. She just looks at me for a moment and then looks away. We change the subject, and start talking about the little round boy up the street.
Like I said, I usually try to ignore her comments of this nature about hair. But boy-oh-boy, I think she just can’t believe that anyone could be truely and unconditionally happy having nappy hair.