Sunday, December 7, 2008

Why "beauty draws us with a single hair" (but beauty never clogged up a shower drain, did it?*)

We've had a visitor sleeping on our couch for the last few days. She is apparently a friend of a friend of my roommates, a live-in nanny between jobs who needed a place to crash for a little while. She is also quite young, and quite beautiful, and had my roommates in quite a little tizzy, but that's a story for another day. Not least among her many charms is her head of massive, long, dark, curly hair. She called my name up the stairs one afternoon a few days ago as I was attempting to sleep off a migraine, and explained that she was going to wash her hair, and did I have a brush she could borrow? She had forgotten hers. I imagined that washing and drying that mess must be quite an undertaking, and I surely couldn't imagine doing it without the aid of a brush, and so I said sure, ok. You can just leave it in the bathroom when you're done. And then I returned to my half-conscious position on my bed. An hour or so later I heard her calling my name again from the hallway. I groaned and pulled myself upright and tottered to the door. She was returning my brush. Er, thanks, I said. I set it down and returned to my previously scheduled activity of doing absolutely nothing. A couple of hours later I felt well enough to venture to the shower myself. Running my brush through my hair afterward, it broke apart in my hands, the handle separating from the head. It didn't snap apart or even make a sound; it just fell limply into two, sad little pieces. I was dismayed. I had used this brush for years, and with my current money problems I try not to spend any more money than I absolutely have to. Look, it can still work, I tried to convince myself. I can just hold it in my hand like this...It might be a little awkward when blow drying, but still... And then just as quickly I had a bit of a Scarlett O'Hara moment, looking myself in the mirror and telling myself, I'm not in the poorhouse yet. Yes, I will have a brush with a handle...and I will never go knotty again! And so, my mind made up, on my next trip to the local Monoprix I bought myself the cheapest and most indestructible-looking brush they had. (Eight euros. Eight euros for a brush!)

And then all was well for about twenty-four hours or so, until I attempted to once again partake of that daily cleansing ritual called a shower. I noticed immediately there was a problem. The tub wasn't draining, and soon I was standing in tepid, soapy water up to my ankles. Right after no hot water and poor water pressure, I think lack of drainage has to be one of the more annoying first-world shower-related problems known to man. I have lived here for months and this was the first time this had happened. And I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was. And so I toweled off, removed the drain plug, and looked into the eye of the beast. Usually I would tackle a job like this with an old toothbrush, but although there are many toothbrushes languishing in our bathroom in various states of disuse, I wasn't sure which ones were the castoffs, and I didn't want to take the chance of guessing wrong. And so I went in barehanded, reaching into the drain and pulling out a veritable never-ending rope of slimy, wet hair. Now, is the proper way to measure slimy, wet drain hair by weight or by volume? Did I pull out a pound of hair, or was it a cubic liter? In any case, it was a hell of a lot of hair, and more importantly, it wasn't my hair. Jesus Christ, she only washed her hair here, what, twice? Three times? I thought. How could there be all of this? I threw the offending hair in the trashcan, washed my hands, and did a little dance of ick before I noticed that my finger was bleeding. Now I suppose I could assume that I cut it on the drain, but I know better. This was powerful hair, hair that breaks brushes and blocks up metal pipes, and it sliced my fucking finger. This hair was a force to be reckoned with. But reckoning would have to come later. For the moment I bandaged myself up and went on my way.

Several hours later I came home from the préfecture, where I had finally retrieved my precious carte de séjour. As I walked up the stairs to my room, I heard the sound of a blow dryer (my blow dryer) going in the bathroom. Once in my room, a quick glance showed that my brush, my new, eight euro brush, was missing. Well, just come right in and help yourself! I thought. In other words, I was slightly annoyed. You might think I would be in a good mood, having just gotten my carte de séjour and all, but actually, you would be wrong. I had just spent an hour and a half in the préfecture with no reading material (my own stupid fault), and then two hours taking two buses to get home when it should have only taken thirty minutes (but almost never does). It was raining, I had a broken brush and a cut on my finger, and I was in no mood, if you know what I mean. Back downstairs, a quick glance in the newly vacated bathroom showed that the brush was not there, either. I headed to the living room just in time to see the girl, freshly coiffed, rolling her suitcases towards the front door. I hurried to catch her before she left. "Lilia?" I called. "Um, hi! Do you have my brush?"

"Oh, yes, it's right here," she said, pointing to Patrice's desk. "Patrice actually went up and got it for me. I hope that's ok?"

"Oh, yeah. You know, actually I had to buy a new one, because the last one broke," I said for some reason, probably because I was still annoyed.

"Oh, did I break it?" she said. "I'm sorry..."

"Oh, no, I mean, it just broke after you gave it back to me, so you know...whatever."

And then I tried to cover up my bitchiness with forced polite conversation in an act that fooled exactly no one. "So you're moving to a studio in Paris?" I cooed. "Oh, you're so lucky!" And the poor girl stood there nervously responding to my questions until finally making her escape.

"Well, goodbye, and sorry about the brush, and have a good...a good..." (Oh just say 'life', I wanted to say, you know you want to) "um...a good afternoon," she finally settled on.

And this is exactly what happens every time I try to stand up for myself, or whatever you want to call it. I immediately feel bad, and so I go from a raging bitch to a smiling, passive-aggressive bitch, which really is the worst kind, isn't it? And now this girl is thanking her lucky stars she's out of this house and away from this raging lunatic making such a big deal out of something when really, it's just a brush. God.

I don't know if it's the completely dismal weather lately or if it's hormonal craziness, but I did just go off of birth control a couple weeks ago (due to lack of health insurance or money to buy more and not out of any desire to produce human life, although that would also require having what one might call "intercourse" and others might call "sexual relations," and I am having neither, so no worries there). [Updated to add: Oh what a difference a day makes! Worry away, dear readers...] So, yes, I think I will blame hormones for my recent bitchiness, short temper, anti-social behavior, and overwhelming desire to be no further than one room away from my bed at all times and call it a day. Now where's my damn chocolate? No, seriously, where is it? If I find out you touched my chocolate I will hurt you! Oh wait, there it is. Well...carry on.

*(bastardized) Alexander Pope


  1. Yeah, I used to be that way, where I would have tried to tell myself it was just a brush and to calm down. But seriously, it's just the right and responsible thing to do if you break something you offer to pay for it, buy a new one, whatever. And what kind of girl with that type of hair doesn't have a freaking brush?!? Or get her butt out of the house and buy one for herself, she's gonna need one at her new apt, isn't she?

  2. Change, huh?
    Woo! Stock up on EC! ;)

    Sorry about your brush. I'm sure your 8E brush is lovely and you can look back 20 years from now, when your daughter breaks this one: "I bought this brush in FRANCE, 20 years ago!!"

  3. Remember Bruce, the nerdy guy you went out with once in high school? He's a CPA now, has a nice two-bedroom townhouse with pool table and 42-inch TV outside Atlanta, and is dying (dying!) for, uh, regular updates. So come home and get married and make mom and dad happy!


    (I have to think of everything.)

  4. Oh GOD, I would be so ticked off about this whole brush ordeal. I cannot stand when people borrow things and break them, and then are too obtuse to do the right thing and replace them for you.

    But, I, like you, am also too passive-aggressive to actually confront the person and demand the replacement be on them... so any story of mine like this would have the same conclusion as yours. LOL. Go us!

  5. this post was perfection. i'm still cracking up.

  6. LOL. I thought it was just me that did that whole stand up for yourself, but back down because you feel bad thing. It's like a big circle and I hate it. Nothing is more annoying than when someone goes and uses your stuff without permission, and if they really want to put the icing on the cake they won't return it. I am new to this blog and i was laughing the entire time I read it. I loved the Scarlet O'Hara comment! Gotta love that movie!