My new super-short haircut looks great, but on humid days it presents some morning surprises. This morning, it was standing up in vertical curls.

Elsa: ACK! My hair is — ack! — I look like I’m inventing something! I look like a mad scientist.
The Fella: I like it.
Elsa: You just want to come back to my lab and see my Tesla coils.
The Fella: I do.
Elsa: I look like Barton Fink.
The Fella: You look pretty.
Elsa: I look like a cockatoo.
The Fella: No! [approvingly] You look like Rod Stewart.
Elsa: …that’s not better than a cockatoo. Or different!


I’ve been trying a few products and treatments that promise to restore luster and shine to my prematurely gray hair. Most recently, I tried a product I assumed was long extinct, an artifact of the 1970s. But no: you can still pick up a tube of Alberto V05 Conditioning Hairdressing in a drugstore for a few dollars.

So I did, and that night while The Fella and I sat side by side watching a movie, I tried it out. Piercing the tube’s seal, I squeezed onto my fingertip a tiny dab of what appeared to be industrial motor lubricant: thick, oily, grayish-green. I sniffed and recoiled.

“Whew! This smells like old!

The Fella leaned in, sniffed, and nodded. “Yup.”

“This smells like old dude!” I bit my lip. “The reviews said the smell would dissipate quickly.”

A beat.

“I’m trying it.” I spread the dab of goo over my palms and glossed it onto my hair.

Then we waited. Waited. Waited for the smell to diminish.

And in the meantime we talked. Talked about the smell. Among the things we decided it smelled like:
– old dude. Though I’d remarked upon it immediately, we thought it deserved a strong seconding.
– old dude barbershop: a barbershop for old dudes, full of customers.
– the nurse’s office.
– comb sanitizer.
– cheap band-aids from the hospital.
– a clean wrestler.
– old dude, a third time.
– Great-Uncle B., minus the whiskey.