2018-01-26 / Commentary

No comments in the afterlife


My mom has two reasons for wanting to be cremated when she dies. The first is that she doesn’t really like tight spaces or the dark. The second and more compelling reason is she doesn’t want to be lying in a casket and give anyone the opportunity to comment on her hair.

She says she gets enough of that in this life, so no need to put up with it in the afterlife.

More than a few acquaintances and some friends have asked my mom if her hair would move if she were in a hurricane. She does confess to using quite a bit of hair spray. Frankly, she could be personally responsible for that hole in the ozone layer, and I wouldn’t recommend she get too close to an open flame, but still, such commentary on the rigidity of her do isn’t necessary.

My mom also gets these questions on a regular basis...

“Do you roll your hair every night?”

“How do you get it to stand up so high?”

“What color will it be next week?”

After a lifetime of that, it’s easy to see why cremation is her method of memorialization. But, just as a precaution, the folks at Shives may want to stand back a bit when that hair finally does go in the fire.

There’s a sort of precedence for this kind of “long term” thinking in my family. My grandmother would not allow her birth date to be chiseled on to her tombstone. Why? Because she didn’t want anyone knowing she was five years older than my granddad.

I hope she doesn’t come back to haunt me for giving that secret away, but some people—my people—will go to great lengths to avoid the eternal scrutiny of some folks.

Hair seems to be a safe target for such scrutiny. Maybe that’s because— in most cases—it can be changed. We can grow out of a bad haircut. We can fix a hairstyle. And the few that thought the purple dye was a good idea on a particular day can always pick a different color the next day. But some hair issues can’t be changed, and the scrutiny isn’t welcomed.

That’s why I’m starting to join my mother’s camp.

That picture of me to the left doesn’t reveal the Friar Tuck transformation I’m currently undergoing. I have a bald spot spreading on the back of my head like fire in the drought-stricken plains of the Serengeti.

With this condition come comments like these...

“Whoa! Time for a little sunscreen back there.”

“You might want to wear a hat.”

One person actually covered my bald spot with her hand. Maybe these people are just trying to be helpful. Nobody wants a sunburn or something worse on his noggin, but I’m already fighting off multiple midlife crises daily, so is it really necessary to remind me I’m also fighting male pattern baldness?

I don’t jiggle my friends’ love handles and suggest a few sit-ups once in a while. Life is too short, and I’ve got plenty of my own issues to worry about. No need to comment on others.

I’m praying we won’t need hair spray or a hat in Heaven.

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