My Spiel:

If anyone mentions my dreadlocks to me, I tell them the following spiel:
"Thank you for mentioning my hair. Anyone who is kind enough to mention my hair..."

at which point I pull the scissors from my pocket
" asked to cut off one of my dreadlocks!"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Encounter 2: The Second Dreadlock Removal

A man came walking down the wooden stepped mountain path, in the opposite direction from me, and as he passed, made a throwaway aside comment that he thought I looked like Jesus. I am not convinced that this is, was or has ever been the case. 

The very notion of "what Jesus looked like" suggests the existence of an accurate portrayal of a man who lived way before any photographic documentation was available, and also before the development of contemporary notions of portraiture.
Perhaps this man was referring to a widespread modern notion of Jesus with a long hair and beard. I did indeed have long hair and a beard. If this is instant qualification as an image of Jesus, then so be it, but in that case a lot of people in the world today look very "like Jesus"

As far as I know, no widespread portrayal of Jesus is adorned with dreadlocks - apart from perhaps some examples in the Ethiopian Orthodox / Rastafarian tradition church. Such images are unlikely to be widespread in East Asia, and yet it is there that I have had more such comments than anywhere else.

Little did this man know what he was letting himself in for by his quip. I immediately turned and asked the man why he would say such a thing. As soon as he mentioned my hair, I got my scissors out of my pocket and said "If it's my hair you're talking about, then please go ahead and cut one off." He started fiddling around with the ends of one of the dreadlocks, but I proffered him the roots, saying that he must go much closer...

This second cutter was very reluctant to cut a whole dreadlock off, wanting to go for a point about half way from my scalp to the end. 
The aloofness of this man, his reticence to engage in the process was very strong. Perhaps, as a good-natured citizen out for a Sunday stroll, he simply did not want any trouble or interference into his routine. Am I wrong to provide people with a change in routine? I believe, on the contrary, (whether mistakenly or not) that I am doing people a service by providing them with experiences they would not otherwise have had. 
But even discounting the potential annoyance this man had felt at his walk being interrupted, he was not only reluctant to cut, but reluctant to go the whole distance and cut really far down towards the root.
Why are people so reluctant? Do they not believe in the transience of hair?  If you're going to cut any of it off, why only cut off 4 or 5 years' growth? Why not go for the whole 9 years?
 Even when I found a decent root for this man to cut, he started cutting about 2 or 3 inches away from my scalp. I asked him to go closer, but he said it was too late: the scissors were already half way through.

While the majority of the dreadlock became detached, this process left behind a stump of dread hair, still attached. I realized there must be some use for it, so did not worry too much, and enjoyed the bemused feeling of holding, for the second time in my life, a dreadlock that had just been removed from my head.

When I asked the man what I should do with the dreadlock, he handed it back to me and said, simply, "keep." So I kept it. I have since divided this 4-stranded dreadlock amongst my family: one for each of my brother, sister, mother and father. What they choose to do with each strand remains to be seen.

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