"I think I need to do something with my hair..."
Melinda is talking to herself, although I am in the same room. We are getting ready for work, and she is both setting her hair into a clip and combing her bangs. Melinda is a lot of fun to watch in the morning, but when I tell her this, she frowns and gives me that look that says: what is up with you?
She is half dressed, as usual. She has her hair mostly done now, and her blouse and vest are on but she has only panties and socks on below. She holds up two sets of slacks (both khakis) and stares into the mirror again-"Which do you think?" she asks the glass (& me).
I think the blue panties go with the black socks.
She throws one pair of pants at me and walks away with the other.
"I'm serious-I think my hair needs something..." She has started up the conversation again, 20 minutes later as we drive to work. (Although she wants to think no one at work knows we are living together she is too practical to argue against ride sharing). "I think a perm, or a new color-what's a good color...and don't say teal.." (She is getting to know me quickly, this girl).
I think a perm would work, some curls, a little bounce might be fun.
She frowns and pulls at her bangs in the rearview. "I think I have too many bounces as is..." (this is a reference to her weight, a sad, but frequent topic).
I know to jump on this quickly--
I think your bounces are great; I was talking about your hair, right?
This has the desired effect and she squeezes my forearm as she stares out the window at the congested traffic. I guess that sort of sealed it because she made an appointment that afternoon and left the apartment early Saturday to have her hair done.
Sadly, her return to the apartment was not as spunky as her departure.
Home? I asked, trying to sound hopeful.
Long pause, silence.
She slumps up the stairs and looks at me as though she has returned with the skin of an animal stuck on her forehead. From my angle it is a slightly overdone perm. She says only this:
"Don't even. OK? Don't even say anything."
She goes to the bathroom and locks the door behind her. I hear thrown combs, running water and what sounds like basic carpentry behind the door. She finally comes out an hour later with a calmer, wetter version of the hair she came home with earlier. Still with the dour expression and an implied threat of violence at the slighest attempt at humor. Staring and waiting. Finally:
"What do you think, really?"
As if I could really say anything. So I say this-I think it looks kinda cool, really. I really do. Wanna do dinner out?
She starts to cry, hugs onto me and cries some more. She tells me later she is so happy I can tolerate her moodiness. She also tells me next time to talk her out of it and make her more practical. Which is exactly what I don't want her to do. But I don't tell her that, of course. That can wait.
We shop at the drugstore after dinner for hair straightners. And Twix bars. And the next day our bed smells like chocolate and chemicals.
I've had worse nights.