I wear a wig.
There. I said it. Out loud.
3 or 4 years ago my hair started to fall out in clumps. I would detangle my hair in the shower and run a comb through it. More and more would come out. I freaked out more and more. I think that’s when Xanax and I became best friends. I went to the doctor because I was having other health issues. I told her about my hair falling out and she was halfway out the exam room door, turned to look at me over her shoulder and flapped a hand at me and said “It’s probably stress.”
No shit, Sherlock.
Like a lot of women (and men) I’m vain about my hair. It was the only pretty thing about me that I liked. It was naturally curly and I dyed it red, a naturally occurring red that’s found in nature. I was always too afraid to go purple-red even though I thought it looked ultra cool. My hair was the only thing people would compliment me on. I’m not a pretty woman but I’ve been called cute. I don’t want to be cute. I want to be a devastating stunner. I also want 3 billion dollars, be 5’8, and have the answers to why we’re here on Earth.
For the most part I could style my hair to hide the thinness. To all the men out there with comb overs: I feel your pain and I understand you now.
A coupe years ago I bought fake bangs. Let me tell you, it’s amazing that we can put men on the moon, that most diseases have been eradicated but fake bangs are a fucking fantastic invention. I didn’t mind telling my co-workers that I was wearing clip-in bangs. I told them I wore them because they added fullness to my bangs. Then I realized two years ago that it was time to go all the way and start wearing a wig. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I made up this elaborate story that my brother’s ex-husband, a fabulous hair stylist (that part was the truth) styled my hair for my birthday and it was a little different than the way I usually wore it. The first time I wore my wig to work I could feel my heart slamming around in my throat and I took a couple Xanax. I got compliments left and right but a few people must’ve suspected. I could see it in their eyes as they looked me up and down, These were the people who grew up in the 60s when wigs were popular. One woman in particular, a vicious little bull dog of a woman, got very close to me and said in a loud accusatory voice “Is that a wig?”
I stammered “No” which came out more like “If you fucking out me as a wig wearer I will throw you off the nearest roof.” There was a librarian I worked with who wore wigs because she had alopecia. Every time I saw her I’d yell out in my head “My wig sistah!” But she wore these terrible wigs. They weren’t the kind where you’d look at her and think “I wonder if that’s a wig.” You’d look at her wig and go “Oh yeah. That’s a bad one.” My wig wasn’t expensive and it would look really good for about a month or two before it started to look like an angry and vengeful hedgehog. All the curls would get matted and I’d constantly check to see if anyone could spot the matting if they were standing right behind me. I’d sit at a work meeting and for 45 minutes all I could think was “Oh Jesus. I hope they can’t see that this is a wig.” It sounds so egotistical, doesn’t it? It’s like thinking the Universe is out to get me because my hair fell out and I suffer from major depression. I don’t have cancer or any other disease I’m just a chick who started to lose her hair and started wearing wigs. But as much as I don’t like myself I have always prided myself on being authentic. On the surface what you see is what you get. I would walk down a grocery store aisle and a woman would say “I love your hair color!” And I would always reply that the curl was natural but the color was Nice and Sleazy 110. I could not just take the compliment. I had to explain. I had to say I was trying to be myself but needed to add a couple enhancements.
The thing I feel worst about is lying to my three closest friends: Carol , Gloria, and Kathy. I would feel sick with guilt when I would tell them I colored my hair or that I was lucky to have a bunch of bouncy curls. There have been so many times I wanted to blurt out to them “I’m wearing a wig!” A big part of me thinks they’d stop being my friends because I wear a wig or that they’ll talk about me behind my back. Gloria can French braid her own hair. It’s downright beautiful. She and Kathy decided to do a Mormon Wife braid and Gloria braided Kathy’s hair (they both have gorgeous hair, by the way). I went into full panic mode thinking that they would want to do my hair next. It doesn’t feel like natural hair and when you lift it up you can see the edge of the wig and the matted snarls. I have to pretend to be someone who doesn’t like hugs because I worry about my secret being outted.
I like hugs.
The other day I went with Gloria to drop off library books to senior citizens. There was this tiny slip of a woman whose husband had just died a few days before. I didn’t know her or her husband but I would fill their book and DVD holds so I felt like I got to know them by the library materials they ordered. She gave Gloria a hug and then she headed my way. I thought she was wearing a wig (it’s amazing how I notice wigs now. It’s almost as good as my gaydar). That tiny woman gave me a hug. I thought “What if our watches simultaneously catch each other’s wigs and we pull them off?” I had a near hysterical moment where I swallowed a cackle. I think that moment, giving and getting a hug from a total stranger made me think “Fuck it.” I wear a wig. Big deal. My mom’s been wearing them since the 60’s. She has an entire collection on Styrofoam heads and it freaks the shit out of me when I pass by her open closet. Looks like a bunch of mannequin heads starring at me.
Well, I’m tired of wearing the same wig. I’ve gone through 8 of the same kind in two years. It’s time to go different. It’s time to invest a little more money. And it is so stupidly exhausting telling people “Oh yeah, it takes ages to fix my hair.” It did when it was my own hair. Maybe one day I’ll go to a dermatologist to find out why my hair fell out. I shave it down military sort now and wear a baseball cap during the summer months and a knitted hat during the winter. Only around the house. I don’t even go grocery shopping without a wig. I gave myself permission to be this vain. You gotta be vain about at least one thing.
There’s an evil woman at work who has hair so thin you can see your reflection off her skull. I could put lip gloss on by looking through a giant hole in her hair. When my hair started falling out I knew I was not going to be like that. I was not going to go around with huge chunks of hair missing. The one positive thing about wearing a wig is that it takes me 30 seconds to put it on. It used to take me 30 minutes to blow dry my hair and get the curls just so. On my bathroom breaks at work I’ll be washing my hands and look in the mirror and find that my wig has gone rogue and is starting to list. I’ll adjust it and think “Shit! How long has it been almost sideways?”
So I want to get more wigs, maybe enough to build my own army of scary sightless Styrofoam heads.
Sorry guys, that I lied to you all this time I’ve been embarrassed and ashamed and it’s now something I can laugh and joke about, kind of like that story about shitting in the bathtub. But if you try to be funny by snatching my wig off my head I will cut you. After I put my wig back on and make sure it’s facing the right direction.