Sunday, February 3, 2008

Wife Rule #6: "Frizzy" is not a Compliment

Her hair. I still remember the first time I saw her; it was her hair that caught my eye. She had long, beautiful locks that curled gracefully down her back. We were in a freshman Biology class at the university we both attended, where I spent a good portion of each lecture period scoping out the female half of the 700-or-so students in the class. She sat several rows in front of me, and her shiny curls reflected the dim light of the auditorium like shimmering golden coins. Then she stood up, and I saw the figure connected to that gorgeous head of hair. Ooh, la la!

I would be lying if I said that it wasn't her sheer physical beauty that first caught my eye. I would also be incorrect if I didn't give her hair most of the credit. I was shy, but I just had to find out who belonged to that scrumptious scalp, those follicles that captured my foolish heart. And so I eventually mustered the courage to introduce myself, and the first words I found myself saying to her, like involuntary poetry, were "Do you use a dandruff shampoo? 'Cause it'd be a shame to let a dry flaky scalp put a damper on your amazing golden sheen."

Although that pickup-line makes a better story, in truth all I actually did was invite her to study with me and a few friends. I spent a good portion of our time studying her hair.

After we had known each other for several months, I was starting to feel pretty comfortable around her and her hair. I decided it was time to take the relationship to the next level. It was time to open up, to confide. "I love your frizzy hair," I ventured in my best suave voice. I figured that would be a harmless segue into deeper relationship talk.

"What?" she replied, a slightly annoyed edge to her voice.

"I love your frizzy hair," I repeated, a little less suavely. "It's really pretty, the way the curls are curly and stuff." I wasn't sure why this opener had not produced the desired effect.

Well, instead of a deep relationship-defining talk, we spent the next several minutes discussing the meaning of the word "frizzy." I thought frizzy meant "really wavy." Not having ever paid much attention to women's hair product advertisements, the negative connotation of this word had totally escaped me. And thus began one of my first in-depth lessons about the Mysterious World of Women, where subtle differences in word meanings can make all the difference between flattery and failure.

Thankfully, she is a patient and forgiving woman. Her permed hairdo is long gone, having been replaced over the years with various fashionable and equally attractive cuts (my wife's hair looks pretty amazing in any style). In recent years, our children's antics have even introduced a very sophisticated silver highlight to her head of gold. She complains that the new hairs' texture is not sleek and silky like her golden ones, but rather wiry. It's okay, I tell her, I like her new "wisdom hairs" and the distinguished, modern feeling they evoke. And one thing I know--whether they are wiry or not, they are definitely not frizzy.

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