"I just want to die," I said.
"That's a bit of an extreme reaction, don't you think, Rae?" he said, mildly.
"No. No, I don't think."
When the time came, we all assembled on the rooftop/veranda, against a stunning backdrop of blue sky and green hills with one little lone wooden house tucked in an impossibly vertical location. (Every day I look at that house with awe.) There were boulders strewn over the hillside like the seeds of mountain peaks, and we were armed with a large plastic bucket, several plastic bags, (black market items here, since plastic bags are outlawed) and many towels.
Renee, who quite honestly was behaving as though this was some kind of party, told me she liked my outfit.
"I'm going to start wearing only black and grey," I replied. I was morose.
Becca, Renee, and Cat all smiled indulgently. My head felt like it would pop off. And good riddance if it did.
Chinua poured the special solution made of half vinegar and half rubbing alcohol over the hair of the first victims. He moved from a hairdresser routine for the girls to vomiting sounds for the kids. "I'm a blue whale and I just ate but.. blleheheeeheheheh," he said, pouring the solution over their hair while everyone giggled uncontrollably.
I may have cracked a smile.
With the plastic bags on our heads and towels and scarves draped over the bags, we had a collective style reminiscent of a headgear cult. Leafy was sporting a red checked towel, very Arab in style, Renee had the look of a woman smoking a cigarette beside her garden gnomes and baby deer on the veranda of her trailer, Cat had a glazed cult follower look, and Becca had rosy cheeks and looked beautiful. I tied Chinua's plastic bag in a Tupac style, and me?
My hair has the incredible ability to soak up a lot of fluid, which leaked slowly into my bag, creating a puddle in the bag which I hung over my shoulder. It nestled just over my collarbone. Like a small pet draped around my neck. Or a breast implant, gone horrifically awry and fleeing north. As the day went on, I began to feel protective of my lump, speaking softly to it to comfort it.
We huddled in my bedroom, watching shows on the computer and eating ice cream, while we waited the requisite three hours before we could wash the stuff out of our hair. It was not a bad way to pass an afternoon, all of us lined up and glazing over at a stand up comic who was quipping his way unintelligibly around the computer screen.
And then the internet guys showed up to help us connect to the new wireless signal that has been installed. A man from Israel and a Tibetan man born in India. It was interesting timing, to say the least, all of us huddled and turbaned. They needed to come into the back bedroom to work on the computer there. I tried to hide in the bathroom.
When I realized that hiding in the bathroom probably wouldn't work, I decided that talking about it was the next best thing.
We all commiserated. Little jerks, chomping on your head. The Israeli man was sitting at the computer, while the Tibetan man was sitting crosslegged on my bedroom floor, typing away at his laptop. The girls and I were still all slouched against the wall, and kids trickled in and out with their curiously large heads. I mimed the cult mother behind the man on the computer, talking to my bag of water and listening to the instructions it gave me.
The Israeli man had grown up on a kibbutz. "We used to use kerosene," he said. Our lot looked better.
Okay fine. I decided to be a good hostess.
"Chai?" I asked.
(Photos by Chinua, in case you didn't notice him in the mirror...)