the continuing saga of personal appearance

So, I was grocery shopping this morning at 5 AM – as one does – when the attendant at the self-checkout mentioned that he liked my haircut, and that not every woman could wear short hair well. Compliments, as a rule, are nice things, and this one was no exception – although I admit it did almost make me laugh; at the moment, my grown-out buzzcut resembles nothing so much as a head full of dark brown dandelion fluff. (Not bad, if you’re a fan of dandelions. I’ve thought about dying it white.) 

And so we chatted about hair. His daughter, once upon a time, had really long hair. She came home from college one summer and announced she was cutting it – which she did, into a short, spiky pixie. She then dyed it bright fire engine red – and her dad let her, because “it looked good, and you’re only young once.” That reminded me of my mother, who once told me that your mid-twenties are for re-visiting all the crazy and potentially dumb things you wanted to do in your teens and deciding which ones were genuinely bad ideas and which ones would be the sort of fun you seem to only get away with in your mid-twenties. (By the by, as of the 11th, I’ve passed officially from “mid” to “late” twenties – is there a maxim of some sort for that age group too?)

Unfortunately, check-out guy’s daughter’s hair didn’t last long; she got a job at a grocery store, and they required her to change it. “We don’t do that sort of thing here,” they said. It was the check-out guy’s considered  opinion that people like that should loosen up and “get a life.'” Can’t say I really disagreed. 

Before I left, he mentioned that he used to wear his hair short too – and sometimes gelled spikes into it. This last he said with a sort of conspiratorial twinkle in his eye, as if he were telling me about the time he dipped a girl’s pigtails in an inkwell or conned all his friends into whitewashing a fence. He wears it longer now.

car trauma

So, after I got all that work done today, I decided to reward myself with a trip to WalMart; the plan was to get some much-craved chocolate chip cookies. I got to my car and drove half a block before I came to a realization that I really really didn’t want to prove correct. Unforunately, when I pulled into a parking lot and examined the situation, I was right: my tire was flat. I’ve never actually changed a tire alone before, let alone at 10 o’clock at night lit only by street lamps, but hey, I do know how it’s done. So I’m dealing with that and I have the tire off when this woman and what I’m guessing is her daughter stop and ask if I need help. Sure, why not! Only, they had less of an idea what they were doing than I did. Very helpful. So then someone else – male this time – asks if we need help, and stops too. So I stand back and let him wrangle with the tire. (The ladies offered to stay so I wouldn’t be alone with this strange but hopefully helpful guy. Nice of them.) While he’s doing that, I’m simultaneously trying to help and trying not to get in his way, while being proselytised by this girl who’s apparnetly just come from a youth group meeting.  I dodged her questions as politely as possible — I’m touched by your concern and the show of faith, really, it’s great, now could you please pick a moment when I am not sick, standing out in the cold night air, and trying to salvage my only means of transportation?

Eventually a fifth member joins our party (at this point I’m ready to say forget the tire, let’s go hunt dragon treasure), and he just happens to be a member of Studen Campus Patrol. So between the five of us (ok, the three who are actually doing anything) we get the tire off, the spare tire, and…find that it doesn’t fit. The tires on my car are the factory tires; spare tire obviously isn’t. It really. Won’t. Fit.

So we’ve determined that I’m just going to have to leave the car up on the jack and go see if the flat tire will hold air/can be patched at all/whatever. We can’t find the hole. So, about this time, the first three members of my little entourage leave, the student patrol guy stays, and a campus police officer stops by. He insists in attempting to put my non-fitting spare tire on – just wouldn’t believe his own student patrol sidekick – and, when that doesn’t work, he actually does something incredibly wonderful. His own partol car – which is due to be scrapped in a few months, as it has been in a bad wreck – is, in fact, a Ford Taurus. As is my own. So he gives me his spare tire. How cool is that? We get it put on, I get in the car to make sure it will drive…and it won’t. Because it’s flat too. (Seriously? Seriously.) Luckily, the police guy had hung around. So we take that tire back off, leave the car up on the jack, pile all the tires and all the people into his car and go ’round to the gas station with free air to try to help both tires. During this process, I stay in the car and try to thaw. Have I mentioned I’m sick? And this has taken nearly an hour, up to this point? Yeah. My throat’s a little raw.

So we fill my tire up with air – finding the gaping hole in the side wall in the process – fill up the spare, and head back to my car. Get the spare back on – it works this time! – get me all driven back to my dorm, and here I am. Cold, tired, and cookie-less.