tonsorial issues.
© 1996 Jamie Zawinski <>

Ellen has cooler hair than me. Shortly after I started wearing braids, she said, ``hey, I think I'll do that too.'' But of course hers never got all tangled and matted like mine did; it was so unfair.

She got a parakeet, and shortly thereafter dyed her hair to match it: yellow and green with spots of red. It was quite impressive. The bird seemed to like it too, given how much time it spent sitting on her head.

She had to go to a wedding with her family last week, so she decided to dye her hair all one color first, instead of the pink/yellow/red/blue kaleidoscope that it was at the time. Another nod towards convention was that she also tied all her hair into a bun of some kind, which made it look much more neat and tidy. But I had to ask her, given that she had dyed her hair a solid color to avoid freaking out her relatives, whether she really thought that dark green was the right color to choose? She answered that after she got to the wedding, it had occurred to her that her hair was probably much less shocking to them than all the metal in her face, which she had completely forgotten about...

It was from Ellen that I learned the trick to keeping your braids from coming undone: wrap the ends in little bits of thin wire. She bought various multicolored spools of small-gage wire for her hair, but I always just used telephone wire; it was easy to come by.

One day I was sitting in my office waiting for a compile, and I was re-wrapping the ends of some of my braids. Lou walked by, and then did something of a double-take, and came back for a better look.

``Are you putting metal in your hair?'' he inquired.
``Indeed,'' I replied.
``But... how are you going to get that out?''
``Who says that I intend to?''

Some months later, I had a similarly-themed conversation with Kathy, Lou's betrothed. I hadn't seen her in a while, and she dropped by my cube to say hi. After a while, she got a conspiratorial tone in her voice, and said,

``Can I ask you a personal question?''
``You can ask,'' I replied.
She nearly whispered, ``Why do you do that to your hair?''
I didn't really know how to answer that. So I said,
``I don't know. Why do you do that to your hair?''

I guess she liked that answer, because she repeated the story to a lot of people. Oh well.

But back to Ellen's hair; what I said earlier about her braids always being untangled and unmatted isn't strictly true, because after about a year she decided to let them grow wild and transform into dreadlocks, albeit relatively tidy and perpetually-multicolored dreadlocks.

But recently, the time came for a major pruning, as she and Joe decided to move to Seoul, Korea and make their living selling jewelry on the streets. She cut her hair short (the only possible option once one has gone the dreadlock route) because such outrageous hair is, they tell me, just way too American for east-Asian sensibilities. With short hair, she suddenly looked like a fourteen-year-old boy. This was accentuated by the fact that the lack of weight on her head made her so uncomfortable that she took to wearing backward baseball caps most of the time.

My hair had started down the dreadlock path as well, despite my efforts to hold it back from the brink, which is why I finally gave up and unbraided it all. However, it was very nice to never need to comb it; it was a terribly low-maintenance hair style. One problem with it is that when one is in a strong wind, and one's hair is whipping around... well, those little metal wires holding the ends together can take out an eye if you're not careful.

But there was this guy who sent me email telling me that I looked (by his estimation) exactly like Mario van Peebles did in Highlander 3. It's too bad he took down his page proving this, because it was pretty funny...

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