Saturday, August 30, 2008

You Don’t Need ALS to Have a Bad Hair Day.

Scene: About 1970, the era of women’s wigs, at a major intersection in Glendale, me in my ‘66 Mustang (“Charlie Horse”), windows open, gorgeous summer afternoon, I’m pulled into the intersection waiting for the light to change to make a left turn. The light changes, the opposing cars stop, I start my turn and some creep guns it from the curb lane to beat the light, and broadsides my car.

My wig flips off my head out the window into the intersection. (“OMG, my wig !!!”). I pull the car out of the intersection to the curb, and duck down, trying to get the bobby pins out of my hair. I’m in my mid-30s, but most of my hair is already gray, and I just let it go and let it grow under my trusty wig. So I’m hunched over in the car, trying to comb my hair with my fingers, and people are crowded around, peering in the window, thinking I’m injured and in pain because I’m clawing at my hair.

Meanwhile, there is much commotion and screaming coming from the bus stop across the street.

From my left side rear-view mirror, I can see my wig in the intersection. Traffic goes one way, and it tumbles along in that direction a few times. A few people run over it. Then the light changes, and the wig starts tumbling in another direction. Back and forth and all around it tumbles in the center of the intersection.

From the distance, I hear a siren. Thank God, I think, I can hide out in an ambulance. But the ambulance pulls up to the bus stop, not to me. Someone gets loaded on a stretcher and it drives away.

Suddenly, a kid from the corner gas station pushes his way through the crowd around my car, holding my wig with his index finger and thumb, pinky in the air, like it was fresh road kill. He says, “Is this yours, lady?”

I grab it and shove it down on my head. Dignity restored, I let people pull me from the car. As I wait for the cops (the guy who plowed into me had only managed to get his car a half block, then he took off running. I learned later, the car had been stolen), I talk to the onlookers, or as I prefer to think of them, my defense witnesses, and get the whole story.

A woman at the bus stop, who happened to be an epileptic, saw my wig fly off, and thought it was my head. The screams I’d heard as my wig bounced around the intersection were hers. “The head! The head!” The woman then had a grand mal seizure. Hence the ambulance.

I noticed as I talked to the cops and the tow truck driver and my witnesses that people were looking at me very strangely and not getting any too close.

When I got home, I looked in the mirror ... and there I was, long gray hair sticking out all around my head, with the brown wig perched precariously on top ... backwards! ... with tread marks on it !!

To this day, I still make three right turns to avoid making one left turn at that intersection.