I recently realized that using a hair pick to comb / brush your hair is not normal when you are white. I used to think that it was just a preference, though I honestly have never understood the appeal of the traditional comb. But now I realize I am not normal.
I started using a pick when I lived in Fiji during Middle School. Fijians, and most people of the neighboring island countries, have hair perfect for making ‘Afros’, though they traditional sport a much shorter version. In Fiji a pick is used to comb hair and puff it out so that it looks good. My hair was definitely the wrong color and texture, but it did need combing. Since then, plastic and wood picks have been my friend.
Today when I travel, I normally carry a small pick and forgo a brush altogether. The pick is simple and does the job well. It is something I have never questioned. One evening after a long day during my Northern Kenya adventure in April, I was combing my hair out in the common area. The trip afforded little privacy, and that night only one shower room, so it was the polite thing to do. Erik made a comment that was half question to the effect, “You use a pick for your hair?” I was exhausted and all I could think was, “Yes; I did not make space for a brush in my back pack. Besides, I rarely use one.” I think what I really said was, “Yep.”
Then Sunday night I was having a fantastic conversation with Elizabeth about race and culture, which somehow got around to Fiji and hair. Elizabeth, good friend who often house sits for me, and who is definitely white, had noticed the lack of combs and presence of picks in my bathroom. Really? Yes. Elizabeth always carries a comb in her purse. But they lack a proper handle. The have two sides – one side gets much finer than a pick. But why would I want that?
And that is how our conversation went. Both of us baffled at the other’s choice while laughing at the discussion we were having. Abstractly, I see the point that, for my hair, a comb and a pick are the same thing. But I can promise you that if I loose my pick or it tragically breaks, I will go on a hunt for a new one. I think it is the island girl part of me that simply will not let go. You think you know how you are different and then BAM – another point. Another point that makes me smile and remember happy times. Now I wonder – what other aspects of my daily life are not ‘normal’?