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In the Bob Marley decision, a photograph of Bo...

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(Addendum: For those who just want to know how to rid their locks of the mildew smell, soak your dreads in black tea, and after washing make sure you dry them completely…or guess what?)

Many, many (over 20 years ago) I fell madly for an artist who lived in a loft downtown. It wasn’t one of those fancy new lofts, it was the real deal – empty. It was off Grand Ave on some train tracks, had no hot water, one had to bathe in the sink, and there was no heat. Ah, but young love cares not for those silly amenities!  We were both artists, living the bohemian life!  Well, I wasn’t as committed to the boheeem thing as my boyfriend but I did like his dreadlocks.

There are quite a lot of people who have an aversion to dreadlocks. I am not one of them. I often wonder why people hate them so much and can come up with a few possibilities. It could be that we all know that most white people with dreads are not Rastafarian, they are most likely Trustafarians running away from their middle class upbringing – sticking it to the man (while panhandling). Usually we see people with dreads leading less than admirable lifestyles but that is in Venice, CA…and San Francisco. My beau way back when was not a Rasta but he wanted to be different and I couldn’t blame him. Most young artists are trying desperately to be different and they believe by changing their appearance, it changes everything. Perhaps at one time this was true but it sure doesn’t hold any sway today where you are more of a freak if you do not have tattoo’s.

When I was in art school people called me Mary. I didn’t understand why until someone told me that I was so normal that they decided to name me after Mary Tyler Moore. This was because I had no piercings, tattoo’s, wasn’t going through a sex change and didn’t sport a mohawk. I was just me. Weird enough.

After I dropped out of college (yes), I cut off all my hair. Not something I recommend a straight woman to do in San Francisco but I wasn’t worried, I had a lovely boyfriend (not the dreaded wonder) and he liked it. I loved it.  I am an equal opportunity hair person. In fact one of the sexiest guys I know has no hair because he chooses to shave what little he has. (Scruff). Anyway, I’m veering off my topic. What is my topic? Hair.

Dreaded Disco Art Man was a beautiful lad but as artists go, totally self-absorbed and although sexy, we had nothing in common. (And as I have said before, I was my own worst enemy in the “love” department.)  One of the things I could not handle was the smell of his dreads. What I did not know then( he didn’t either), was that if one washes their dreads they must make absolutely certain they dry them completely, right down to your roots, rock Reggae…or mildew sets in. Yes, mildew. And yes, it smells like mildew. Not particularly sexy.

Much later in life a hairdresser told me that one way to rid dreads of mildew was to soak them in black tea. Sounds nice to me. Perhaps a little Earl Grey? I love that smell.

The last time I saw the DDAM his dreads were to his ankles. I often wonder how he sleeps at night, if in bed does his hair strangle his girlfriend unintentionally like a boa constrictor, does he have any neck pain? Of course he would never tell me.

A few days ago I began to think about cutting off all my hair again. I can honestly tell you that one of my better qualities is my hair or at least that is what people tell me (sad but true). At the moment my hair is quite long and hasn’t been this long since I was in high school. There was no particular reason I grew it, it just happened. I’m not thinking about cutting it because I have issues with men, I want to cut it to mix things up a bit and not spend so much time dealing with it. I especially hate molting all over my yoga mat. It’s disgusting.

Those that know me, know that I cut my hair very short every few years but now that I am of an age (middle-aged single gal) where it really scares people, I have resisted. There is something very liberating about having short hair and not all men think it is a sign of a man-hating woman. Some men find it sexy but I suppose it is possible that they are gay. (kidding)

So to cut my hair or not to cut my hair…I don’t care. What I do care about is whether or not my identity is wrapped up in my hair. Women in their 40’s are far too attached to their long hair “look” because they have been told men prefer it. But here we go again with the generalization of cultural thought.

Back to dreadlocks. Why do I like them? I’ve thought about this a lot and maybe it is the human wearing them. It is an aesthetic thing. If the face fits the hair or the hair fits the face (according to what pleases me) then all is right with the world. I adore a freshly shorn head on a man as much as I do long…well, wait a second. I covered this before and truthfully, not all men can pull off the long hair thing, so is this also true of women? Should women really color their hair? Do any men really like women with grey hair? I certainly don’t care for men who color theirs.

Oh my brain is getting muddled.

To cut this dull (ha ha) and lifeless topic short, I will say this; it has to do with the authenticity of the human. Is that person actualized or are they fictitious? Because I can smell a fraud just as much as I can smell mildew, I’ve a keen nose.