I tried to get an Afro once. I wanted an Afro back in college as soon as I came across this rad chic strutting down the hallway of the student center with her Afro all carefree and wild. It was as if she existed effortlessly. I wanted to exist effortlessly, too. I ignored all logic that my hair wasn’t actually suited for an Afr, and figured if I could get my hair curly with product, I could have an Afro, too.
The very next time I made a trip back home, I gathered moral support from my sister and took a few pictures to the mall hair salon (first mistake). I walked in with glowing confidence and demanded that Jenni, spelled with an i, cut my hair into an Afro. I gave her specific directions: Cut the top short, the middle a bit longer, and the bottom short, too.
I loved it for the entire 20 minutes that it stayed somewhat poofy. My sister snapped a photo. Then it fell completely flat. I looked like a clown-college reject.
That story taught me something valuable: It’s just hair, it grows back.
I tried to remember that lesson as I was standing in front of my bedroom mirror this past Thursday, with a chunk of my hair tangled in a dollar-store brush. I don’t even know how it happened. I was just getting ready in a rush, and my very expensive and nontangling round brush was nowhere in sight. I was in the middle of sending a text message and dodging Tupperware from yesterday’s lunch on my floor and consoling my roommate over boy problems when that round brush claimed a quarter of my hair—a very valuable quarter that sits right on the top of my head.
I thought nothing of it at first. These things happen, right? Surely not to 27-year-old women, but in my heart I knew that somewhere out there in the universe, at that very moment, a mom was successfully detangling a brush from her child’s hair. That comforted me and gave me hope as I drowned my hair in conditioner and oil, trying to pull the locks out of what seemed to be the worst dollar I had ever spent.
I called on my roommate to help. She tried to pull, twist, and untangle the mess that it seemed would inevitably have to face scissors. When she couldn’t figure it out either, and when I realized that 45 minutes of my life had gone into this hair battle, my eyes filled with tears. Oh, for the love of fuck. This can’t be happening.
There are good things about my apartment and there are great things. One of the great things is that it’s located above the Brooklyn Heights Supercuts. If there were ever a time to live above a hair salon, surely this was it. I ran downstairs, hot pink hairbrush flapping against my ear, and in a complete panic, I asked the two would-be angels, “Can you help me? I don’t even know how this happened, but I’ve got a hairbrush wedged in my hair and it doesn’t seem like it’s coming out any time soon.”
“How did this happen?”
“I’m not sure, but if you could do your best not to cut all my hair off, I would really appreciate it,” I begged.
The angel in charge told me to sit down in the shampooing chair, directly across from the only other customer in the shop—a woman with dreadlocks down to her boobs. I immediately felt comfort and relief. I knew I had come to the right place.
As one angel hacked with a comb at my conditioner-soaked head and the other told me stories about other tangled hair, I sent the following email to my boss:
This is the strangest thing but I'm in a hair salon because a huge chunk of my hair got stuck in my hairbrush. I'm trying to make it (and avoid getting a huge chunk of my hair cut off). Can we push this [meeting] back by any chance?
He wrote back, “Regardless you must take a photo and write about this one.”
So I snapped a few photos of myself in the chair, as the Angel in charge finished one of her stories with, “This kind of thing happens to mixed babies,” she said. “And at a certain point, you just gotta let that hair grow into an Afro.”
I really wished that was the case. At least I would’ve gotten an Afro back in college, and I wouldn’t have to tell the internet how I got a hairbrush stuck in my hair because I owned a $1 brush.
Special thanks to the ladies who saved my hair:
Brooklyn Heights Supercuts
Brooklyn, NY 11201