Editor's Note: This morning, my hair dryer went kaput. It make a little cartoon sound and then it was gone. The last time this happened was a few years ago, back when I wrote regular columns on my old blog, American Lament. To commemorate the passing of its successor, here is a column I wrote about it on April 21st, 2008. As always, I encourage you to browse through my old blog, since while a lot of it is dated there's a lot of good material there. Enjoy!
I have had one of the first truly defining moments of my life.
My hair dryer tried to kill me.
Now, to set the stage of this incredibly traumatic experience, let me first state that it was a mere few days ago that I went and engaged in another incredibly traumatic experience, getting my hair cut. Now, I like to think of myself as a fairly non-metrosexual guy, inasmuch that I haven’t really taken care of myself in any sense of the word since about 1985, which, coincidentally, is the last time I updated my haircut. But I do have a lot of hair, and it does have a certain level of maintenance so I don’t walk around looking like a cross between Alfalfa and Sanjaya. So while I don’t fuss over my hair—I try to keep my yearly spending on hair products about equivalent to my nearly expenditures on calendars—I also don’t want to walk around looking perpetually like everyone in the world’s younger 9-year-old brother who is in that awkward stage after they give up wearing that wrestling T-shirt every single day but before learning how to use a comb.
As such, I prefer that my hair to be left a little longer than normal, since if it’s cut too short it tends to stick up, and I have to shove enough chemicals in my hair that Hans Blix wants to inspect it. (Wow, a Sanjaya joke and a Hans Blix joke all in one day. Time to update the Rolodex.) And yet every single hairdresser I’ve patronized since I learned to walk has taken me saying “Please don’t cut my hair too short” to “cut every single piece of hair on my head to the minimum length molecularly possible.” Seriously, I’m like a six year old in that chair, sulking while she tries to chat me up about the weather to distract me from the fact that she’s chopping off waaay too much hair. What’s left is an atrocity wrapped in a disaster, at least until two weeks are up and it either grows in or I kind of forget about it. Granted, it’s sort of my fault, since I’m not assertive enough to say anything and instead just throw a big wad of cash at her as I leave so she doesn’t see me tear up, partly because it’s not worth the hassle and partly because I don’t trust women who are holding sharp objects.
So I was already kind of torqued off when I woke up Saturday. I woke up late after staying up the previous night either partying hard with my ladeez or doing crossword puzzles (I don’t recall which) and was getting ready to greet the day at a somewhat reduced pace, in the sense that it took longer for me to get ready than it took Dostoevsky to write The Brothers Karamazov had he had to invent each Russian word as he wrote it.
So after my shower, I start to dry my hair. To sketch the profile, the hair dryer, which had recently attended to its eighth birthday, was mauve, which also means it was a gift, since I would never electively acquire such a color. But while drying my hair this day, it tended to switch between the high setting and the low setting primarily at will, something that should of set off alarm bells like it was an ELO concert but instead I assumed it was just one of those things electronic devices do because they hate me more than they hate their own life, as evidenced by my DVD player that is currently solely powered by its own sense of self-loathing.
Alas, with the motor grinding away and sounding more and more like a cat choking on the Empire State Building, I did something I knew the moment I did it that I should not have done it. I peered deep into the nozzle of the hair dryer while it was still running in the extraordinarily likely case that between the time I finished my shower and started drying my hair I had earned an engineering degree and would know be able to both diagnose and fix the problem.
Instead, I was greeted with the hair dryer catching on fire. OK, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but saying that “I caught a modest burst of flame as the dust and accumulated hair burned up in about two seconds” just makes me sound like a pussy. I did, however, quickly do what all of the emergency medical personnel tell us to do when we are holding malfunctioning electronics in a room full of water, which is to scream like a little girl and throw the thing on the floor. I also believe I complemented my heroic acts by loudly stating something along the lines of “Goshen gee willikers, my hair dryer has caught on fire! Heavens to Betsy!” Or something conveying those same sentiments; it’s all a hazy blur at this point.
My hair dryer, having finally taken its stand in protest of eight hears of hard labor of working for four minutes every day, let out a few last whimpers in the form of what in hindsight were probably highly dangerous sparks, then just stopped, dead. I lifted the limp carcass and carried it outside so the house wouldn’t smell like a Dutch masseuse, then promptly went to the drug store to buy a new one. I wasn’t going to let an attempted assassination stop me from exercising my American right as a citizen to go through life with dry hair.