Every once in a while, I realize my wife is Black. Which gave me the brilliant idea of doing a series of blog posts called “An Asian Dude’s Experience with Black Culture.” In this first post, we explore the hot comb, an instrument of torture that is also used to straighten hair.

Apparently there is a difference between Black and Asian hair. Asian hair, for example, tends to be straight, which makes it easy to be shaped into lethal points using gel, as you can see in many anime movies as well as on most Asian pop stars. Black hair, I’ve learned, is a little trickier to maintain. Jameelah has naturally curly hair, but sometimes she likes to make it straight. There are many ways to do this. One way is to use chemicals, which come in boxes that you can buy at most stores and have helpful directions like the following:

 

  • Wear thick protective gloves and goggles.
  • Apply to wet hair in a well-ventilated space not near open flame, animals, small children, pregnant women, or the elderly.
  • Smoking and searing pain in the scalp indicates product is working.
  • Use on a small patch of hair on less noticeable part of head first to make sure product does not cause baldness or cancer.

 

“You’re going to help me straighten my hair,” said Jameelah one day. “OK,” I said, “I’ll go get the welding gloves and pliers.” She was offended. Apparently she never uses chemical straighteners, and I should know this, since we’ve been together four years. Don’t I ever listen, what did she just say? It was too dangerous, so instead, we would use a hot comb, which is exactly like a regular comb, except it’s made out of metal and has a handle and you heat it up on a stove, then apply directly to a lock of hair, repeating the procedure until all the locks are either straight or burned off.

We stood in the kitchen in front of the stove. “Be careful your fingers touch only the handle,” Jameelah warned, “or you might get third-degree burns.” She demonstrated, taking the comb off the glowing red eye of the stove and applying it directly to a lock of hair. It hissed on contact, releasing a wisp of smoke and the floral fragrance from the shampoo.

“See, nothing to it,” she said, “now you try.” Jameelah could do this in her sleep, but she couldn’t see the back of her head, which was where I came in. For the next half hour, I grappled with the instrument. I was so nervous, my hands trembled the whole time. However, Jameelah was very patient, giving helpful feedback like “Ow!” and “Aargh!” After a few minutes, I started getting the hang of it. The trick is to be fast and confident, because if you go fast, the comb doesn’t have time to burn the scalp! Another trick is avoid touching the comb to eyeballs.

Finally, we were done, and Jameelah’s hair was straight, and we only suffered a couple of minor burns. I was glad. “You get a punch on your Black card,” she said, beaming. She gave me this theoretical card when we first got together, and I’ve been racking up “punches” these last four years. The last time for knowing and correctly singing the theme song to the show “Living Single”. (“We are living/single/oh in a 90’s kind of world/I’m glad I got my girls.”) I also lost a credit once by saying, “You’re making grits? Awesome! Can you make me one?” I don’t know what the card gets me. I think it’s like a smoothie card. For every ten punches on the card, I think I get a cool new dance move. Not sure. Jameelah will check with the Council.

“I think this deserves TWO punches,” I said. I’m just three credits away from being able to “drop it low”.

Look, an easy-to-remember website: www.Jaggednoodles.com.

 

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