There's a pretty definitive list of items that are intended for exclusive use by one gender or the other. The men's list is somewhat short, comprised of "urinals," "automobiles" and a few other knick-knacks. The women's list is significantly longer, mainly because of assorted hygiene and maintenance products that I can't even fathom. Sandwiched somewhere in the middle just above "scrunchies" and just below "tampons" you'll find the hair-duo of hairdryer "'n' hairspray. You'll also find this combo in my bathroom drawer. Therein lays a problem.
No matter how long their hair is, guys just aren't supposed to use hairdryers. The guys from Metallica used to have long hair, and wouldn't have dared use a hairdryer. They simply rocked their hair dry. I don't really have room to do that here. Not helping is my hairline's extensive benefits package, which includes numerous vacations days and, it would seem, indefinite sabbaticals. This arrangement was part of the fantastic genetic contract my parents wrote up for me. That, and the coordination of a sofa.
It should come as no surprise then just how frustrated I am when getting a hair cut. Without fail, the stylist always fashions my hair into some style that I am never, ever able to reproduce, such as an afro. For the brief car ride home I proudly showcase a nice haircut that will be erased moments later, during the requisite post-cut shower. Afterwards I endure After-Haircut-Shower Hopelessness-Induced Trauma (AHSHIT) with the realization that I will never be able to duplicate that style. That's why I do what I do to my "'do.
What I would prefer to do is never remove my hat, but one awkward prom dashed that possibility. Instead, I've spent the past six years progressing down the list of hair styling options, starting with the most masculine products available. Pomade, gel and glue were all scratched, mostly on account of my absolute aesthetic ineptitude. The hair-dryer / hairspray tandem was introduced as a gag, intended to make myself look as foolish as possible for a party. Realizing that it was the best my hair had looked in years, I brought the procedure aboard for a full-time position.
In my own defense, this isn't extended woman-like blow-drying. I walk in, aim the dryer straight up and cement my hair into a huge, thinning tidal wave. It's quick, efficient and leaves me with hair that has a 4x mega long-lasting hold and firm style control, which is what every man secretly desires. It also leaves me with hair standing tall enough to break light fixtures or take down low-flying aircraft. If anything good can come out of this situation, it'll be when advertisers realize the goldmine that is my sprawling and unobstructed, billboard-like forehead.
But rarely does anything good come from this. The process has all the subtlety of a hurricane. When the dryer starts, the lights dim. Hot air roars. My roommates rush out and look on in horror. Injuries are reported; usually of the hairspray-in-the-eye or slipped-on-the-wet floor variety. Finally I emerge, looking as if I rode a missile through a wind tunnel. Head hanging low, I announce that I'm off to work. The roommates silently check the bathroom for debris. What just occurred is unspeakable.
If there are any two groups of people that find it especially gratifying to harp on my hair habits, it's easily males and females. The ladies are in a particularly diabolical position to humiliate me, with "I'll borrow Neil's" being the most damning thing a girl can utter. Aside from a pencil or bottle opener, there is nothing a girl can borrow from a guy without him fearing a ruthless riddling at the hands of friends, family and the clergy. Girls don't ask to borrow my whiskey. They don't borrow my subwoofer. And wish as I may, they definitely don't borrow my circular saw. They just ask for my hairdryer, and they do it only after a crowd has assembled. In so doing, they also ask for my dignity. Usually, I only get the dryer back.
So, as summer fades into fall and the hair-poofing humidity disappears, I must begrudgingly return to my dry-and-spray dependency. It's just something I've come to accept in my life. Sometimes the arbitrary nature even yields a hairstyle so interesting that it compels people to stop me and ask just how I got it to look that way. It's at those times that I finally feel vindicated; as though what I'm doing isn't just functional, but perhaps even cool. Feeling twenty feet tall and measuring just below that at the peak of my hair I confidently turn and reply,
"Hurricane. Two blocks over."