Reflections on Asian Hair (A one-act monologue of sorts)

By Jef Catapang

Fej circa '07, stage one of "The Hair Era"

Jef stares at himself in the mirror. He looks into his eyes, assesses the darkness of the bags below. He rubs his head vigorously, Denzel Washington- style.

Jef: What’s up, Denzel.

Jef’s reflection looks Jef up and down.

Fej: You look like shit.

Jef: Right back atcha, playa.

Fej: Please don’t talk like that. Why do you insist on talking like that?

Jef looks intensely into his own eyes.

Jef: BECAUSE YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. ANYTHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH, YOU CAN.

Fej: … Can’t we just have a normal conversation for once?

Jef: Sorry.

Jef’s attention moves downward.

Jef: God, we need to trim our nose hairs.

Fej: I KNOW, RIGHT?

They laugh while tickling their nose hairs.

Fej: So anyway, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions. About your hair. The ones on your head.

Jef: Sure. Shoot.

Fej: What happened to it?

Jef: Listen, if you’re gonna be an asshole—

Fej: No, I mean, where did it go? We were bald most of our lives, but then you had hair for a year, and now we’re bald again. What gives?

Jef: Oh right, “The Hair Era.” It was just too much hassle.

Fej: Right, right. The gelling. You spent an inordinate amount of time going from messy, to not too messy, but messy, to–

Jef: Dude, not only that. Remember all those times after showering I’d come back in here with a baseball cap? Then I’d take it off and stare at both sides of my head?

Fej: Yeah.

Jef: You know how our hair poofs out after a shower?

Fej: IT’S THE WORST.

Jef: Well, the only way to get it back down to normal would be to wear a damned toque or Yankee’s cap for 15 minutes, then come back in here and THEN put the Dippity Do in to hold it there.

Fej: You used a hat to tame your hair? You used Dippity Do??

Jef: I don’t know what gel to buy!

Fej: Isn’t holding your hair in place what the gel is for?

Jef: You’d think.

Fej: Damn.

Jef: Oh! You were never there! Grade 7 Christmas recital!

Fej: What are you talking about?

Jef: The boys in our class had to dress as ’50s greasers for a musical number, which OF COURSE was no problem for all the white kids. Dude, I put so much gel in our hair, had help from like three friends, and still, by the time I hit the stage our hair had already begun springing back forward, and our nickname for the rest of the year was Sonic the Hedgehog.

Fej: I wish I saw that!

Jef: I went straight to the boy’s room, couldn’t look myself in the mirror and just went head-first into the sink to wash out the shame.

Fej: Damn.

Jef: But yeah, I tried having hair for year or so during college but I wasn’t feeling it. It was Sonic-stress all over again.

Fej: You should have gone to a barber that specialized in Asian hair.

Jef: This goes beyond just “Asian” hair though. Whenever I tell other Asian dudes about how thick my hair is, they’re always all “Oh, me too,” but this is something else. Remember when we first started shaving our head in grade 8?

Fej: Dawww, that’s when we first got close as friends!

Jef: First I started shaving our head myself. Then when high school hit and I met other Filipinos, we all started cutting each other’s hair, learning how to do fades and stuff —

Fej: THANK YOU for never shaving any lines into your head, by the way.

Jef: — and that was the first time I realized how fucked up our hair was. Did you know our friends used to make a big deal out of shaving our head because our hairs would get stuck in their arms?

Fej: Like, splinters?

Jef: LIKE SPLINTERS.

Fej: I’m sure that happens.

Jef: It happened EVERY TIME. Tools high school homies needed for cutting our hair: tweezers, baby powder, and poor rock-paper-scissors skills.

Fej: Did you ever wish you had hair during those halcyon days?

Jef: Not really. Sometimes there was jealousy when you’d see girls touching other guys’ hair, but it was high school. If I didn’t feel that way about hair I’d feel that way about something else.

Fej: You mean like, knowing how to dress yourself properly?

Jef: I thought you said you weren’t going to be an asshole!

Fej: Some girls must have liked touching your head.

Jef: Yeah, sure! There were lots of ways people would interact with it. Archie used to use her cardigan as a weapon in the hallway, throwing it on my head from behind. It would grab like Velcro and she would yank my head back like car crash whiplash.

Fej: That’s a strange way to flirt…

Jef: Really? You think she was flirting?

Jef flexes his arms and smiles wide at his reflection.

Fej: How many times do I have to tell you to cut that shit out? It’s creepy.

Jef: But mostly, people were just fascinated by how steely it was. Did you know I used to use it as a weapon?

Fej: Do I want to know?

Jef: In jiu-jitsu class one day, Jay made a comment about how my head was giving him rug burn. RUG BURN. From then on, if someone took my back and tried to choke me out, I would just rub my head across their face! They let go every time, and I’d play it off as an unfortunate accident.

Fej: I’m disturbed and disappointed by how proud you look of that statement.

Jef flexes his arms and smiles wide at his reflection.

Fej: You’re…special.

Jef: You’re the one talking to the mirror.

Fej: No…I’m not.

Jef: …

Fej: So when did the beard start?

Jef: It just grew from THE SIDEBURNS, remember those??

Fej: YES. WHY DID YOU HAVE THOSE SO LONG FOR SO LONG?

Jef: Those monsters sprung from nowhere in grade 7 and I had no idea what to do about them. The guys would always give me a hard time about them, but that just made me stubborn about shaving so I just let the chops have free reign of our face.

Fej: Seriously, why are you so hairy? Asians should not be this hairy.

Jef: I dunno, Jamie and Nav do alright.

Fej: Are you jealous of Nav’s chest hair? You sprouted a few freak hairs a couple years ago, which is weird, because you were 27. And Asian.

Jef: A bit! How many do we have anyway?

They count their chest hairs.

Fej: Oh my god, 27!

Jef: IT WAS ONE FOR EVERY YEAR.

Fej: THAT’S FUCKED UP.

Jef: I’m scared.

Fej: Anyway, you seem comfy now, balded-up and bearded.

Jef: 1 on the top, 4 on the bottom. It’s easy, I never have to think about it.

Fej: Are you going to stick with it? Will we ever have hair again? I still think you just need to ask more Asian dudes for advice.

Jef: Dude, you haven’t noticed? We’re going bald. Our hairline is receding.

Fej: Yeah…full retreat. It’s doing parkour.

Jef: Like it or not this hair style is us until death.

Fej: “Style.” Don’t forget the square quotes.

Jef: We’ll never have hair, but our nose hairs are magnificent.

Fej: I KNOW, RIGHT?

They laugh while tickling their nose hairs.

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