Monkey see, monkey dress (Part 1) | Chuck's World

By Chuck Sigars | Feb 19, 2014

Teja Cole, a fine writer with an economic style that I’m envious of, tossed out a tweet the other day that made me smile.

“Please," he wrote, “[the word]’writer’ is so offensive. I’m a text worker.”

There is it. I’m a text worker and, if my accountant agrees, it’s going on my tax returns next year. Text worker. I labor with letters, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like labor and sometimes it does.

I have great affection for words, although I’m not fussy. I’ll occasionally tease a friend who misuses a word, and I’ll gladly act sheepish if you catch me doing the same, but it doesn’t keep me up at night.

English, for one thing, evolves and mutates and always has, so who am I to say that your construction won’t be common in 10 years and I’ll be here, looking old and out of the loop.

But just to be sure I’m clear about what I want to say here: When I write “envious,” I don’t mean “jealous.” Again, it’s fine with me if you mix and match them, but “jealous” means a fear of losing something you have or might acquire, and “envious” is synonymous with “covet.” That is, I want what you have.

Not necessarily you. It depends upon your hair.

I’m a little envious when it comes to hair. I have plenty of hair, by the way, although less than I used to. There’s a spot on the back of my head where, remarkably, there is very little hair now, but otherwise my comb still has a job.

My issue with hair is a quality thing. Mine has a fine texture and always has, with a tendency to be oily. This means that unless it’s very short, when it’s clean it tends to fly all over the place and make me look as though I live in a constant month of February.

It’s a wind-blown look that somehow isn’t flattering.

Secondly, the oil that begins pumping out of what I imagine as little tiny wells in my scalp as soon as I step out of the shower, slowly turns me into a degenerate, someone you would cross the street to avoid and never offer credit to (there might be other factors, but I tend to blame the oily hair).

What this means is that when I wake up in the morning, I resemble Doc Brown from “Back to the Future,” a mad scientist intent on changing the world but not combing his hair. It stands out at strange angles or else plasters down on my scalp in a way that would make Tony Soprano uneasy.

There’s a way to solve this, which is by setting my alarm and washing my hair every morning before anyone else on the West Coast is awake, but let’s remember my occupation: I’m a text worker.

I have no immediate obligations when the day starts, and my wife and son have by now developed blind spots to my hair mania.

As I said, I’ve lived with this terrible affliction my entire life, assuming there was no cure, but I’m now an old dog and some people persist in trying to teach me new tricks.

And I speak, of course, of my daughter.

After years of observing her father in his natural unkempt state, during a recent visit with her, when I stayed at her house and slept in her guest room, and stumbled out in the morning in my usual scary way, it seems that she reached a tipping point.

And she has a child now, whose formative years should probably not be spent with Doc Brown.

So she introduced me to a miracle product whose existence I was only vaguely aware of, something referred to as “dry shampoo,” in her case a homemade product that looked to consist of part baking soda and part cocaine (I didn’t ask questions).

She essentially dusted my hair, and suddenly I was human again. Not smarter, not more attractive, certainly not taller, but less oily. Human looking. It was a miracle.

This would be enough, trust me. Just to look reasonably normal in the mornings while I played security guard for punctuation would be fine with me, but daughters are forces of nature.

They sense vacuums just waiting to be filled, particularly when it comes to fathers who dress slightly worse than random 4-year-olds with no supervision.

If you took 100 monkeys and set them free in JC Penney for an hour, half of them would end up dressed better than I am and the other half would be spending all their time in the home appliance section anyway.

So we found a babysitter and my daughter took me shopping, something my wife has tried twice in 30 years and regretted both times. It was apparently a season of miracles.

I don’t like shopping. I don’t like trying on clothes. I don’t even, in fact, like clothes. But after fortifying herself with a margarita (wives, take note), she gently led me to one of those mall places I see from the highway.

A mysterious place with stores like The Gap and Old Navy and Nordstrom’s, stores that might confuse even a particularly clever monkey. Stores where sweat pants were not welcome or even offered, as far as I could see.

And thus we had an adventure, which I’ll save for next week. No rest for the text workers, you know.

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