free for all

today was all about africa. at least that’s how it felt in the chair as i stared at the hairstylists talking to one another, each with a customer seated at their station. i was slightly ambivalent because i don’t typically let anyone do anything to my hair except trim it so this was the opposite end of the spectrum, something i hadn’t done since high school. when i told the lady what style i wanted she looked at me like i was psycho, and a few women came over to reinforce what she was thinking. they all told me my hair was long and then nothing after that so i wasn’t sure how the statement became a question i was supposed to answer to but clearly that’s what they were waiting for.

i made a mental note that they were in my personal space and that i could smell what they’d eaten for lunch before nodding that yes, i know. silence. they walked back to their stations and finally the lady on my hair asks, “are you sure?”

i smiled and said yes, “i’m sure…” a flip switched and everyone started talking in oromo, which sounded to me like a series of vocal bumblebee grunts interrupted only by bouts of unending hysterical laughter.

the whole time there african music videos played in the background that they sang and danced to while doing everyone’s hair but outside of telling me what kind of hair i had, no one spoke to me again until telling me how much to pay at the end. when i got home the kids did nothing more than look at me before having a good laugh. apparently it’s contagious.

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