"Where does your son get that curly hair?"
"From his father," answers the Queen Mother.
Yet the Royal Father forgot to pass on one important gene: the one that allowed him to control that mop. Tangles and twists are normal. Mother's acceptance of them is not.
"Christopher, your hair looks like a fright wig."
I comb. She combs. I comb and she combs again. Still, that mess.
"We're gonna get you a buzz cut," the Royal Father jokes when he observes too much topping. But it's not as bad as my brother's hair, which grows even longer when he's in high school. Dad says he can pick him out from afar by looking for the person with the "toadstool."
For me, the main problem is getting the strands to lie flat on top. One time, in grade school, the Queen Mother gets the idea to spray my curls with The Dry Look.
What they don't tell you in the commercials is that the stuff smells like perfume. I go to school and people want to sniff my head.
But no matter how bad it is on top, it's better than what's coming in on bottom. As you all know, when boys go through puberty, more strands of hair start growing in places they're really not needed. I stare at the truth in the bathtub, and my little brother discovers it when he barges in to get something because the bathroom door has no lock.
It's embarrassing. Puberty is hard enough: that barrage of hormonal maturity including the pimples. But that hair. At least nobody has to see it.
Then one day, one of my friends comes up to me during Youth Club at church, somebody who also knows my brother.