Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chronicles of Life ... Look, don’t touch

I love my hair, especially touching it. I rock the natural look and the compliments flow in. Hearing them is always greatly appreciated; however, people who touch my hair without permission are not. Few things irritate me more than random strangers touching my hair. It makes me feel violated in at least 10 different ways. Unfortunately, it’s happened more times than I care to count. Now I must take action. The next nimrod that touches my hair unsolicited is going to get slapped. My pimp hand is ready.

It's been a few months since someone had the audacity to touch my hair. Then it happened again Saturday. I was talking to two men, and to my horror one placed his hands all over my head. I froze. It wasn’t even a quick touch a go, but an all out hair groping. I should have saw it coming when he said, “I love your hair.” I had to inch away so he would stop touching me. It lasted for maybe about 10 seconds but the damage is done. I am a hair assault victim. Someone please call 9-1-1.

Just when I thought the worst had passed, another violator appeared. “Your hair is so cool,” she said. Up went her hands, and the first man joined he assault on my hair. I froze again. You just don’t expect to be violated twice in one day. Then they both said my hair reminded them of Tracy Chapman. I wasn’t sure if I should take that as an insult or compliment (Side Note: After looking up pictures of her on Google, I am thoroughly insulted. Macy Gray would have been a compliment). I think a little part of me died inside. It was all I could do to walk away from the situation, with some dignity. Immediately, I called a friend and my parents to share my tale of woe. “I have just been violated,” I said. Everyone says I should have slapped their hands away or called security. I was just too shocked to do anything.

To me, hair is a part of the body, akin to breast. Imagine having random strangers touching your breast all the time. You would feel violated. People can compliment my hair all they want, but touching it is humiliating. I feel like in their eyes I am no longer a person, but a puppy to pet or some side show freak, a la Saartjie "Sarah" Baartman. I shouldn’t have to feel like that. It is blatant disregard of my personal space and shows I am not respected as another human being.

I was always taught hair is the woman’s glory. Hair touching is an intimate act that should only be shared with close family and friends. There is an elite group of people who can touch my hair without asking. Half the reason I went natural was because I didn’t like having any and every beautician in it. If I won’t let professionals touch my hair, then strangers can forget it. I don’t know you or where your hands have been.

There is also a racial issue often perceived from these types of situations. I can’t speak for all of us, but the black women I know ¬– relaxed or natural – hate when strangers touch their hair. I won’t get into the whole historical context, but I always wonder, “Would they have been so intrigued if I wasn’t black, especially with natural hair?” There are hundreds of blog posts all over the internet dedicated to the issue of touching a black woman’s hair. Renee, of, wrote it best, "My blackness and your curiosity does not give you the right to touch me."

This whole experience has been traumatic. I probably need therapy. Washing and styling my hair always soothes me. I just washed it Thursday, but that unwanted hand residue makes my hair feel dirty. I’m thinking about writing Oprah. Maybe I can share my tale of woe on her show. I know I’m not the only victim of hair assault (black or otherwise).

One day I will get through this, and when I do, all the hair violators better beware. My hair may be the eighth wonder of the world. My natural coils might look so soft and inviting. You might get seasick by my waves. But I’m giving you fair warning, you can look, but don’t touch. Lest ye want to feel the wrath of my backhand.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chronicles of Life… The sweet search

It’s starting to heat up outside and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for a honey dripper. I am now on a quest to find one (or more). One of my cousins mentioned honey drippers a few days ago, and that sparked my sudden craving. Sadly, I haven’t had that delicious goodness in about two years. I think it’s high time that changed.

A honey dripper is the quintessential warm weather treat. The key ingredients are Kool Aid (in different flavors) or Hawaiian Punch and pineapple juice with mixed fruit sometimes added as a bonus. You combine the ingredients together in a paper/plastic cup and freeze it solid. The finished honey dripper equals a taste sensation like no other.

My daddy was the first one to introduce me to the joys of a honey dripper. I was in pre-k at the time. Someone in my grandma’s neighborhood made them. He bought us both one and the first taste blew my little mind. It had fruit in it, tasted sweeter than honey and dripped all over as I slurped it down (thus the name honey dripper).

I had more honey drippers through the years, but my last experience was in college. My community service organization, SISTUHS, Inc., often volunteered with a local Girl Scout troop. These were no normal Girl Scouts, mind you. They were Girl Scouts in the hood. Those little girls always kept things interesting, especially when it was cookie selling time, but that’s another story. One Saturday I saw a scout slurping down a honey dripper. My mouth watered, my heart leaped and I only had one question, “Where can I get one, too?” A woman in the neighborhood was selling them. Immediately a group of us flocked to her door. Soon there were Girl Scouts and college students walking around with several flavors of honey drippers.

Honey drippers are not a popsicle or an ice cream treat which you can merely get at a grocery store or from an ice cream truck. They are a rarity sold only in a neighborhood home. Usually somebody’s mama, grandma, aunt, or whoever has a side hustle of a snack shop. She probably sells hot sausages, pickles, chips, pickled eggs, boiled peanuts and candy. The shop, however, is not complete without honey drippers: 25 cents without fruit and 50 cents with.

Thinking about this is starting to feel like torture. I need a honey dripper ASAP! Or should I say frozen cup, sherbet or lily dilly to keep confusion down? I found out through my Palatka family and college friends that while the product is universal, the name is not. Honey drippers are called many things throughout Florida, and probably in other states too. At least the ingredients are always the same. Push cup, sweet treat, frozen sweet, whatever. Honey dripper is clearly the best name. Then again I am biased. So call it what you want. I simply call it good. Now I just need somebody to tell me where I can find a honey dripper.