Some Desperate Crime on My Head

Tom Kalin

2003 | 00:03:00 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 |

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: LGBTQ, Literature

I was fourteen when I put on my first wig. It was, I believe, my sister’s idea. So she and my mother and I went – I forget where…Simmons and Co.? – some elegantish salon with gold lame drapes where they did not do such splendid work. I sat and accepted the wig. It was like having an ax driven straight down the middle of my body. Beginning at the head. Whack! Hacked in two with one blow like a dry little tree. Like a sad little New York tree.

Every morning my mother put it on for me in front of the mirror in the kitchen and carefully combed it and puffed it and fluffed it and pasted it down. I hated it and was ashamed of it, and it made me feel guilty. As once the world had been divided for me into Jews and Italians. It was now divided between those who could see me with the wig and those who could see me with a hat. Only my most immediate family – mother, father, sister, brother – could see me with both, and only they could see me bald. Hat people and wig people. Wig people at school.

Hat people at home. This went on for years, decades. The terror of encountering one side in the camp of the other. I could bear no reference to the wig. If I had to wear it, all right. But I wasn’t going to talk about it. It was like some obscenity, some desperate crime on my head. It was hot coals in my mouth, steel claws gripping my heart, etc. I didn’t want to recognize the wig, the wig people, the hat, the hat people, or even my baldness. It just wasn’t there. Noting was there. It was just something that didn’t exist, like a third arm, so how could you talk about it? But it hurt, it hurt. Now I think I look quite glamorous. -Alfred Chester, "The Fool" 

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