When I walked into the office this morning, Alice looked at me and said:
“What’s going on with your hair this morning, James? You look like a dog licked your head.”
I try not to care what people think of me, and I thought that maybe the best way to do that would be to shave my head. I’ve always had long hair. Hanging over my ears. But I shaved it clean, giving almost everyone around me quite a shock. When they asked why I did it, I tried to answer honestly:
“To prove that I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.”
And that was pretty much true.
The more people who asked, though, the more my words began to feel dry and rehearsed. I started to wonder why I should even answer, if I really didn’t care.
I quickly realized that shaving my head wasn’t enough. There might, somewhere, be someone else who thought I cared about their festering opinion. I started wearing scuba fins to work; I painted my elbows yellow, and spoke in a Hawaiian accent — just to see if that could free me from the sludge of expectation.
And it helped, a little bit. So I changed my name to “Hi,” learned to speak with a Finnish accent, a Brazilian accent, and a Sudanese accent, and tattooed purple bananas onto my knees, just to see what the hell would happen. But nothing did happen, and so I kept on doing what I was doing, and nothing happened after that, either. Oh, wait — one thing did happen. I got fired. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful.
Eventually, I got tired of having yellow elbows and purple banana kneecaps, and got rid of those things. I started wearing normal shoes, every single day, just like the any other normal person might wear. My Hawaiian accent faded, along with my Finnish accent, my Brazilian accent, my Sudanese accent, and my friendly name.
I cleaned myself up — primed and prim, short hair and a clean suit. I went back to my old office to see if they’d rehire me, but they didn’t. But I didn’t mind. I found another job soon after that.
I went into my new office the next week, and one of the secretaries nodded to me in passing:
“I like your hair this morning, James.”
I looked in the mirror and realized that my hair was just as long and as dog-licked as it was before I started to care what people thought.