Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wig Etiquette

I bought a second wig (straight hair!) and now wear it quite a bit. It's comfortable and I feel flattered in it. Bob likes my wigs so I wear one if we go out and last night we went to our local sandwich shop--Michael's, which is run by neighbors. Leeanne saw us sitting and then I could see her recognize me. It's amazing what a change a wig makes because it doesn't quite match your own growth and hairline. We mostly don't consciously register that people's hair grows in a left or right spiral, and bangs can hide a widow's peak but a wig is sometimes more different than a cut or coloring your hair.

"You've done something with your hair," she said.

"It's a wig," I said. "I've got a really mild form of cancer and I'm bald."

She was startled, of course. Since the last time I saw her, she had broken her wrist badly so we discussed our medical woes and I admired her zippered cast. Afterwards, I wondered if I wanted to have told her I was wearing the wig. My mother never would have. My mother never told most people that she and my father had split up, despite the fact that she hosted bridge games and had people over and he wasn't there. People would say, "How's Marty?" and she would tell them he was fine, or that he was in the hospital again (he had a heart attack a couple of years after they separated and had heart disease for years after until it finally killed him.) I don't know if she thought that the fact they were still technically married meant she didn't have to say anything. Or shouldn't. But mostly she just believed that private matters were private matters.

Obviously, I'm not like that.

But I don't know that I needed to blurt out to Leeanne that I was wearing a wig. Maybe I just should have said, "Thanks! No gray!" Part of it, I think, is that I'm so aware it's a wig. It's weird and kind of fun and I don't know exactly what to make of the whole wig thing. But the wig thing is growing on me and I do like how convenient it is. It's easier to put make-up on without hair, too, no worry about getting the foundation in my hair or getting all the way up to the hairline. So I often wear a little make-up as well. (I'm getting quite glam.)

I can't figure out if the wig is flying under false pretenses. It's not like I think anyone who is wearing a wig should announce it. If the wig is a fashion accessory, well, it would be like announcing my jacket. (Not that some people don't announce their clothes. Particularly on television. 'This is Prada.' 'This is Stella McCartney.') On the other hand, I don't think someone who has a glass eye should be required to announce it, either.

Why am I uncomfortable then? I feel bad when people find out I have Hodgkins and say, 'I didn't know!' 'I just found out!' I feel as if I neglected to tell them. But I hate to tell people, too, and overcompensate a bit by telling too much perhaps. I would like to come to some sort of comfort level about the whole thing but with luck, I'll be cured before I do.


Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

I think that every time you explain that you are bald and so have a wig, it should be something different.

"They shave your head for the electric chair, but my lover busted me out."

February 16, 2005 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could just sigh, give a pained look and explain how you're indulging Bob's latest fetish.

February 16, 2005 10:57 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

"Isn't it cool? I tried shaving my head, laying down an inch of sod, and planting peonies, but the rains washed it all out, so I'm wearing the wig until my hair grows back in. Or I decide to try tulips."

February 16, 2005 11:50 AM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

"After the hair grows back, nobody will know about the tattoo!"

February 16, 2005 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary Turzillo here. Wigs do make you look different, which is why they're so much fun. A guy got all hot for me some years ago after he saw me in a masquerade in a red wig, but he cooled off considerably when I went back to my natural dark brown.

Also, in the 50's, which is presumably a period both our moms go back to, cancer was actually considered a disgrace -- I have no idea why, but when somebody had cancer, you didn't mention it, you said they had something else. It was weird, and quite unhealthy ... . but very 50's.

February 16, 2005 3:43 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Also, in the 50's, which is presumably a period both our moms go back to, cancer was actually considered a disgrace -- I have no idea why, but when somebody had cancer, you didn't mention it, you said they had something else.My mom harks back to the 50s, too. To be fair, there were all manner of things one didn't talk about--alcoholism, spousal abuse, closeted homosexuality, lost jobs, sexual abuse.... Cancer was just one of them; before medicine made some real strides in cancer treatment it was a presumed death sentence, after all. When I was five, a child in my class left in the middle of the year; I was too young to realize that, when the teacher said he had come back to say goodbye, she meant goodbye; he had leukemia. What I do remember was the unease, the apparent shamefulness that seemed to have a stink of its own--except for us kids, who knew something was off, but hadn't a clue what it was.

I think you should wear a different wig every day, each more extreme than the last. Except when you don't want to, of course.

February 16, 2005 5:48 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

Other possible explanations you can give:

"I pledged a sorority, and this was part of the hazing."

"When I think really hard, my brain overheats, and this lets me cool down."

"I'm on the Olympic swim team, and I need to minimize my resistance in the water."

February 16, 2005 8:19 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

"I kept trying to even out the sides of the Mohawk . . ."

February 16, 2005 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, Maureen, you are really missing an opportunity. You should say, "It's a wig." Then add, "Well, actually, I have two wigs," and demurely glance downwards.

I am sure that's what Arlen Specter will be doing.

February 16, 2005 10:18 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

"It was supposed to eliminate the need to ever shave my legs again, but I guess I took too much."

February 16, 2005 11:50 PM  
Blogger Darby M. Dixon III said...

"Wig? I'm...that's silly...I'm not wearing a..."

*reach up, touch head*


February 17, 2005 11:51 AM  
Blogger adland said...

I remember meeting a friend of a freind for the first time that I was mesmerized by her hair. It was jet black and curly and looked great. So after a few pint I could not help but blurt out "You have awesome hair girl". She laughed at me and said "It's a wig, I have no hair." My quick save was: "You have great taste in wigs."

February 22, 2005 12:01 PM  
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