When my son was about 5, he had a mohawk. A glorious mohawk. Not one of those damnable faux-hawks parents give their kids just to get them to shut up. I mean a fucking Mohawk. Dyed bright blue. When we put it up, it rose over 6 inches off his scalp. It was brilliant. One fateful day, he had asked that it be put up in liberty spikes and I of course obliged because I am in fact the coolest dad ever. We later found ourselves at the mall, which is astonishingly, not the most surprising part of this story. (I do so hate the mall.)
During our stroll about the mall, we heard the patter of soft-soled feet behind us. As a matter of course, I simply do not turn around at the sound of sensible shoes, but after a moment, as the sound neared, it was joined by an, “Excuse me?” The voice was directly behind us and close enough it was clear she was speaking to us. We stopped and turned to greet to twenty-somethings clad in all black, their hair coiffed beyond all reasonable measure that would be required for a trip to the mall. The woman and her friend flashed professional-grade smiles.
“His mohawk is great!” the woman said. She didn’t have an accent, but she spoke with the air of a person who desperately wanted to be from Europe. You know the type. She was important, by God, if only to herself. She drank lattes all day, spending fully a third of her income on them, and while yes, she did go to nightclubs, she only went to the BEST ones and even then would not deign herself to dance as the music was tragically American and all the best dance music was from Europe and why did it have to take so long for anything good to happen here. I did not like her already.
“We,” she gestured to herself and her friend lest I be confused, “work at Mitchells’ Spa…”
Of fucking course you do.
“…and I have a client who has a mohawk. What do you use to keep his up like that?”
This was a legitimate question. Once a mohawk gets to a certain length, extra measures have to be taken to get it stay up. Regular hair gel will simply make it too heavy to stand, and hairspray alone will not always be strong enough. There are several methods one can use. We used Elmer’s Glue. Plain ole Elmer’s Glue. Works like a charm.
I smiled, because I have explained to people before that we use glue and the reaction is always the same. A small amount of incredulity, a smile and a “No way!” The end.
“It’s Elmer’s,” I said.
The girl and her friend nodded. She bent down and inspected the mohawk a little closer, but said nothing. I took her silence as apprehension and thought to do her a professional favor and arm her with information to relay to her client.
“It washes out very easily, I promise. Maybe and extra minute or so under some warm water, then just shampoo it out. I swear it’s not a problem.” People often ask about the clean up.
The girl and her friend nodded again. She was now staring at me. There was doubt in her eyes, I could see it. I’m still gonna help this girl, I decided.
“Just try not to get it on the scalp. It will dry white on the skin, but not in the hair. Or they make a clear kind now. That’s what we use.”
She was still nodding. Still obviously confused about something but I was done trying to guess this girl’s problem, so I shut up.
“Elmer’s, huh?” she said.
“I swear to God,” I said.
“Uh-hmm, uh-hmm,” she said knowingly. “And where did you get it?”
“This Elmer’s stuff.”
Sweet merciful public school system. This chick didn’t know what Elmer’s Glue was. I looked at her friend to see if he was gong to step in. He wasn’t. I couldn’t tell if he didn’t know either or was stifling laughter so hard he had had a stroke.
“I don’t remember, probably Harris Teeter.” Maybe she would start to get it.
“They carry it at the grocery store?”
Maybe not. “Sweetie, it’s Elmer’s. Elmer’s Glue.”
“You know, like in second grade?”
“Oh, okay! Thanks!” They turned and walked away, but I could tell, she still had no idea what I was talking about.