by Shauna Leggat
copyright 2010, Shauna Leggat. Do not use without permission
So, we’re sittin’ at lunch, me, Graham and Foggy, and Graham says, “Hey, I was researching last night,” all of us perk up, cause Graham’s research is at worst… interesting, and at best, well, we know we’re gonna love it. He leans in, “So, you guys aren’t scared of change are you?”
“No, not me…not me…” we both insist.
“Aren’t you tired of always looking the same? You know, like chicks can change their hair every day, but us, ‘Wow, Mark, you’ve parted your hair a half-inch different today.’” We both crack up, certain we’re gonna like this ‘research,’ but I’m a bit uneasy, cause, you know-- it’s my hair!
“So I’ve been researching,” he says again, and no matter what kind of hair you’ve got,” By now we’re both hangin’ on every word, “you can have amazing…” he holds the …zzzziiiinnnggg… “dreadlocks!” Graham raises his eyebrows and holds his hands out like he’s certain he’s solved the Middle East crisis.
“But I’m half Latino,” I say.
“I wear glasses,” adds Foggy. I shake my head. Graham just starts singin’ this song,
“Throw away your brush and comb,
Just leave your hair alone.
Don't worry, be NAPPY…”
And he’s dancing around all Rasta and doin’ the hand thing and Foggy and me are crackin’ up!
“Soci’ty says it should be straight,
How much product can your hair take?
Don't worry, be NAPPY!”
So Foggy elbows me and we kind of Chicken Dance right there at the table and sing out, “Don't Worry, Be NAPPY NOW! We get the craziest looks from Lori and Kate’s table, and I’m lovin’ it. We get louder.
"Oooooooooooo, oooo, oooo, ooo, oo, oo, oo, ooow,
Oooh oooh oooh ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh, ooo, ooo, ooo, oooo, oo, oooew!”
The bell rings and I haven’t even gotten to my gummy bears or sandwich, but I cram everything back into my lunchbox and literally dance out of the cafeteria with my best buds.
The school day drags on forever. When the bell finally rings and Principal Allen wishes us a ‘pleasant weekend’ over the PA, we’re already out the door. We head over to Yowell Meadow Park for some skating, but no one’s up for it. Graham’s research conversation goes on as if it had never stopped at lunch, which actually it hadn’t ‘cause I heard absolutely nothing from ol’ Royster on the Vernal Equinox.
“So don’t you guys want to make a statement?”
“What kind of statement?” asks Foggy.
“Individualism. Coming of age. I don’t know, any kind of a statement you want.” Graham says.
“The dreads will help. You know you can even meditate on your dreads.”
Foggy looks up like this is impossible to believe. I guess he’d think that since his hair is always cut just like his older brothers’-exactly the same length-come to think of it, I’ve never noticed Foggy’s hair to grow. I picture Foggy with mousy brown, two-inch-long dreads. That cracks me up all over again. “I’m in!” I say.
“No, really!” Says Graham, “Read this.” He unfolds these papers from his pocket and flips through till this one on top is titled, Meditating on Your Dreadlocks. We read over his shoulder.
“Meditation is the art of bringing peace and quietness to your mind. It is an excellent form of relaxation where you simply do nothing but listen to your mind or think positive actions.
“I can buy that,” I say.
“Meditate in the evening to aid in relaxing after a stressful day.”
“Like math with Rinker,” interrupts Foggy.
“Shh, read on,” insists Graham.
“There is no one absolute way to meditate; it depends on the individual's lifestyle. Try different ways (use candles, relaxing music, bubble baths)”
“…four wheelers, potato guns, waterballoons,” I add.
“… until you find one that works for you. All it takes is patience and practice, practice, practice.”
“Well,” says Graham, “You guys in?” Me and Foggy look at each other and he shrugs his shoulders. I guess Graham is waiting for one of us to answer, so I say, “Are we in? Are we in? Heck, yeah! You’ll dread that you ever asked me!”
Foggy gets my pun and cracks another, “Lock me in, man!”
“You guys are losers,” says Graham, “Let’s get to your house and get started.”
We ride our bikes over to my house ‘cause my mom and dad are at work. Graham puts this really organic looking natural soap out.
“We could make our own if we want to shave 50 different kinds of bar soap and let it set in conditioner and oil for a month, but I bought this stuff over the internet and it’s supposed to start it off right.” The stuff is gooey and brown with the texture of oatmeal, but the stickiness of wood glue. We load up our hands and start rubbing it into our heads.
“Visualize your dreads,” says Graham, his eyes closed, looking as peaceful as if he’s sitting in a monastery.
“It’s leaking into my eyes,” says Foggy.
“Visualize,” he repeats, then he kicks into this sermon on visualization, something about the subconscious mind not knowing the difference between imagined or real. He says this is why when we see a picture of a donut we get hungry. We imagine how it will taste and smell, and how it will feel on our tongues. “We can even feel the weight of the donut in our hands as we lift it to take a bite,” says Graham still circling goo into his temples.
Matt and me start to crack up. “No seriously,” he says, “it’s positive thinking at another level. It’d probably even work for your math homework.”
“Good idea,” I say, “next time I forget Rinker’s math, I can just tell her it’s an A, because I visualized it!” Foggy’s back to smearing the soap into his hair. He’s got like three times what I’ve got, and a sticky blob runs down onto his forehead.
“It’ll get caught in your unibrow,” cracks Graham, “…but don’t worry, be nappy!” And we all start singin’ the Don’t Worry be Nappy song and everything. Just dancin’ around the bathroom and visualizing ourselves, and I don’t mind saying that I thought I’d look pretty funny with dreads. I kept visualizing mine as long, dark, tight, almost wrapped ropes, but that’s crazy cause my hair is blond and straight as anything, but I just keep visualizing.
Actually I can visualize Graham pretty well because that guy changes his hair like he changes his underwear. I’ve seen him with a rat tail down his back, shaved under a ledge so thick you didn’t know it was shaved till he pulled it up in a ponytail, buzzed and dyed blond so it would grow out dark with white tips, and once he even let one of his sisters French braid it so he could play soccer and crack the other team up. Anyway, his dreads in my visualization were everything you’d imagine; but me, I guess I can always shave my head if it looks crappy.
So the bottle’s empty and I “visualize” my parents’ bathroom counter and kind of freak. “Dudes, we gotta clean up. My mom’ll flip. I’m not so sure she’s gonna think nappy is nice for church, and this mess will definitely hurt the prospects of her liking my new look.” So we all pitch in and in a minute or so we’re done. Only the bubbles this soap makes just grow and grow and no matter what we do they seem to make more, so Foggy grabs a white towel and wipes up the stuff. Well, the brown soap looks like somebody puked in the bathroom, so I stash the towel under the stack in her linen closet and figure we’re good.
Now what? We all stand there staring at ourselves. We look like the Three Musketeers with swirlies, not very good ones, and Foggy has soap drying in his unibrow, and we all crack up. You know how something hits you really funny and the more you laugh, the more you gotta’ laugh? Well this was like that and we’re hangin’ on each other and crying from funny till the tears somehow suck the soap into our eyes, and we’re screamin’ and laughing and fighting for the two sinks to splash our eyes.
We finally get to where we sit on the john and the bathtub to breathe cause it feels like we can’t, and Graham reaches into his bookbag and has three skull caps. “Watch and learn,” he says, and he puts the black one over his head, then kind of massages it in circles around and around from all sides, and I imagine what the hair and soap must be doing inside. That buzz seems closer, and I kinda decide it’s a probability, and I take the red one and begin the motions. Foggy does too, but his says “I went to Disneyworld” in pink yarn. “I stole Ian’s and mine, but my sister had this one,” says Graham like it’s no big thing that Foggy’ll wear this to the game tonight. So I bite the inside of my mouth to keep from crackin’ up again, cause I don’t want the pink one!
“Don’t get your brow in there, Foggy,” I say, and Graham and me crack up again visualizing Foggy with fab little dreads in his unibrow, and nothing on top of his head. “Or if you do, part it down the middle and you’ll at least have two.” Graham and me high five over the Disney cap.
Well, tonight is the Culpeper/Spotsylvania soccer game. We make a pact not to tell anyone we’re growing dreads until they are at least five inches long. I wonder what my parents will say when I don’t take my hat off at the table, or to sleep, or for church, or anything. Graham sees I’m havin’ second thoughts.
“Great inventors, athletes and politicians use affirmation for success.” We’re listening. “Take Muhammad Ali's affirmation, "I am the greatest." Now he’s putting us on. “No, really. The guy on the website said when he started growing his dreadlocks, he told himself daily, ‘My long thin dreadlocks look and feel wonderful. I have a head full of powerful dreadlocks.’" I picture this Rasta guy meditating and looking all serious, so I close my eyes to affirm, but can’t think of anything to think, and it’s funny. I wonder if the dudes online ever cracked up when they started dreads.
Where does he get this stuff?
“Don't you ever be afraid,” it’s Graham singin’ again.
“Take control of your own head.”
“Don't worry, be NAPPY !
Love your culture from head to toe;
Your locks will surely grow.
Don't worry, be NAPPY
Oooooooooooo, O, O, O, O, O, O, Ooooooo
O, O, O, O, O, O, Ooooooooooo
Ooooo, O, O, O , Ooooooooooooooooo
Man, life is great!