In my quest for perfection, I could make choices to increase my humility, my generosity and my kindness. I could, but that would take work and dedication. Instead, I’m living a life where it’s easIy to give things up, shed possessions and call it success. Some things I’m living without are obvious and easy. For instance, although I owned a television for the past couple years, I rarely watched it except in ways that made me question myself. Normal men pushing 60 do NOT binge-watch a show called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” on Netflix, then leave the TV shut off for a month. Although I like sports, the thought of sitting down and watching a baseball or football game by myself reminds me too much of wandering alone through a closed amusement park. So, I have no TV and no Netflix. (Full disclosure: I did purchase and download the first five seasons of “Game of Thrones,” even watching the first episode a couple weeks ago. It was good, but I haven’t gone back to find out whether the boy who was pushed out the window lives or dies. I suspect that’s not going to be the narrative arc of another 30 episodes, but I do hope he survives.)
Other things I’ve walked away from: cell phone service, easy access to fast internet, refrigeration (until tomorrow when the magic of Amazon) drops off a dorm-room fridge for me to keep cheese in, home delivery of mail, toilets, inside running water and shampoo. It’s this last item that’s been the hardest. Let me explain.
Every item on the above list, bar one, is something I knew would be left behind when I moved to the Tiny White Box. That one is shampoo, which I’ve used pretty much daily since I was 12 and first wanted people to say Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific. From Prell, which showed a real pearl dropping through it on television, to Herbal Essence, which always smelled to my nose like patchouli, to Paul Mitchell, which incorporated Awapuhi as its magic, to a series of other well-hyped hair products, I’ve always prided myself on, taken comfort from, drawn my identity from my choice of shampoo. I may have been a drunk, but I didn’t use supermarket shampoo after the age of 25.
Today, and for the last two weeks, I use no shampoo when I shower. Instead, I rinse my hair off, massage my scalp and I’m done. No soap, no lather, no nothing. Every few days, I rub a half cup or so of baking soda and water into my scalp, but no soap and no shampoo. In the morning, I will brush my hair with a spray of cider vinegar and water. (So far, I’ve managed to avoid the temptation to make my head into a fourth-grade science experiment by combing soda and vinegar, holding that in reserve for one of the cold rainy days I know November will bring.)
My hair was very oily for a few days taking me back to being 12 and eating a live sea minnow to get Carol Tillock to go to a dance with me. (Carol and I have made our peace over this, by text while I was in London and she was in, I think, Miami. I was smitten, and the life of a small fish seemed such a tiny price to pay for her regard. Still, I was wrong—not just for the fish but for making Carol the center of attention because of my oily-haired affection. Could it be that she is responsible for my lifelong need for shampoo? To be explored further in future posts.) Sorry about the interruption there, but I can’t seem to stay focused in this lifetime. My hair was oily for a few days, but it’s since regained its equilibrium, found its balance, stopped making my skull look like a pizza in need of pats from a napkin. The baking soda helped, I think, and the cider vinegar each morning does its part. Despite all my past efforts, even buying the shampoo, no one ever said Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific.
Of course, no one is smelling my hair today, and it could be they’d say, Gee, Your Hair Smells Like a Side Salad.