With one short question I can determine the physical, emotional, and financial state of a person. Only one brief enquiry can tell me the general mood of friends, family, co-workers, the nation, the planet. But you have to ask a woman.
Q. Do you like your hair?
That’s it. That’s all you need to ask any woman on the planet. Of course, you have to be able to read between the lines.
A. This is the worst haircut I’ve ever had in my life.
This means that all fronts are unstable—love life is rough, work prospects are bleak, credit cards are charged up, and the house is a mess. Her mother is depressed; her brother ran his car into a telephone pole. On a larger scale, there’s probably a drop in sales, wheat prices are down, unemployment rose two percent, a record-breaking heat wave is expected across most of the country, and still another ocean was polluted by oil spills.
A. It’s okay. I can’t decide what to do about my bangs.
This means there were some layoffs at work, but it weeded out the deadbeats. She and her husband are getting along, but we’re not talking long kisses or sexy underwear, just comfortable meals and a couple of nice movies. Nobody called her to borrow money. Looking at the nation, we can expect a slight cooling trend. The stock market’s closing higher, Amnesty International got a prisoner released, but the Middle East is still cranky, and a hurricane just wiped out another Caribbean resort.
A. I got this really great haircut! Finally!
This means she also likes her body, including her weight, fat distribution, skin tone, energy level. She’s getting enough sleep. Her brother just got a raise; her sister-in-law is happily pregnant. Work is interesting. The microcosm is similarly cruising the high times, with a drop in inflation, the House and Senate enforcing stricter clean-air acts. Fall comes, bringing rain to drought areas and cool breezes to the south. A woman in Colorado raises a 742-pound pumpkin. The frog population increases, with a corresponding decrease in mosquitoes. From outer space, the earth’s aura just shifted from orange to blue.
You get the picture.
The reason you can’t ask men this question, for the most part, is because they are the ones who invented electric hair clippers with numbered attachments one to three. You know what those numbers mean, don’t you?
1 = Bald.
2 = As good as bald.
3 = I can still see your scalp.
Anybody who can use a bar of soap to wash their hair because it’s not long enough to show the soap film is a person who can’t be used as a global barometer. Not using the "Do you like your hair?" question, anyway.
If your hair’s looking good—if it’s not a wig and yet you like the length, the cut, the texture, the color, and it either hangs provocatively in your eyes or sweeps back off your face, giving a clear view of the universe—then you are experiencing one of the great miracles of life. Protect it. Remember what happened to Samson.
I’ve noticed people doing better by their hair lately. Damaged ends have been cut off, styles are suited more to the shape of the face and the proportions of the body, colors are richer, people are going to salons for condition and shine, there’s an emphasis on healthy roots and scalp. I noticed, too, that all the car manufacturers have added green and teal to their exterior color choices (much more soothing to look at in a traffic jam than red and black), and we had third-party candidates this election year who were accountable to a higher source rather than the lowest common denominator. Coincidence? Or Miracle Hair.
You have beautiful hair.
It reminds me of a horse I once saw
down at the riding ring
training for dressage—
not the mane or tail,
not even the color so much
as the light that shone
from the point of his shoulder
as he turned at the corner
and the smell of cedar chips
piled in the wheelbarrow
beside the barn door.