Wigging Out

Last week, I mentioned that Ken had worn one of my wigs to a meeting and that I was planning to wear one during a virtual meeting to which my friend Elaine from Elaine’s Blog asked to see me in it. I did indeed wear it for “Wig Wednesday” where I encouraged my team to wear wigs for our daily check-in (some of them did—it wasn’t just me, you know). Here’s how I hoped I looked:

Here’s how I really looked (difficult to be cute when all your best reading glasses are back at the office):

But I’ve always loved wigs. I grew up in an era where it wasn’t unusual for women to wear them frequently, and every department store had a wig department, with all kinds of exotic looks that a young girl could fantasize about. My mother had at least two wigs that I remember, and my brother and I used to put them on, jump on the beds and pretend we were rock stars. And by “rock star” I mean Donny and Marie Osmond, who were very popular at the time. Being the eldest, I always insisted on being Donny, relegating my 5 year-old brother to the role of Marie. But he had a great singing voice, and it was a hell of a lot higher-pitched than mine. My brother has a very nice baritone now, but I still sound like a bagpipe-playing duck caught in a trap. We were too young to listen to actual rock, of course, whose musicians all looked like they WERE wearing really bad wigs. I remember going with our mother to visit one of her friends who had an older son. He took us to his bedroom and showed us a KISS album. “This is the best band ever,” he informed us solemnly.
“They look like girls,” we giggled.
“You’re a fag if you don’t like KISS,” he told my brother. We didn’t know what that exactly meant, but it sounded like he was being insulting so I defended my brother the way only an eight year-old can. “No, he’s NOT,” I said, and we left him alone with his precious “men wearing wigs and make-up”. And I’m glad I live in an era now, where your sexual orientation is no longer the fallback for musical criticism. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Back to wigs. In retrospect, I’ve had a lot of wigs. When I was a teenager, I had a long ponytail hairpiece that I wore on fancy occasions. As an adult, I’ve had more than one hairpiece that made my hair, which is thin and fine, look like it had a substantial bun at the back (not unlike the hairpieces that hipster guys used to give themselves the dreaded “man bun”). Then, I branched out into “musical theatre”, which is to say that I began to take part in the Christmas assembly at the school where I used to work. Every year, the staff there lip-synched the songs of contemporary or well-known music stars. The first year I did this, I played the role of—guess who?! The lead singer from KISS. Full face make-up and a curly, long black wig, complete with a black leather costume and platform boots. It was an exhilarating experience, and now I know why KISS did it for so many years. Then we were sent home due to a terrible snow storm. I got my car stuck in a snow drift a block away from my house and flagged down a pick-up truck to help push me out. When the guy got out of his truck, he stopped and stared at me kind of fearfully, at which point I realized that I’d taken off the wig, but was still in full KISS make-up. “I was in a play,” I tried to explain, but I think I would have been more believable if I’d been wearing the wig.

Over the years, I’ve donned a long brunette wig to play Lorde, the blonde wig seen above to sing along to Taylor Swift, and “gotten my wig on” for Hallowe’en on several occasions. But I’ve never actually bought a full wig just to wear. Until a couple of years ago, that is. I’d gone out for dinner with a friend, and we may or may not have indulged in the $5 drink special more than once. On the way back, we went into the underground shopping mall near my building to get some wine. Then we passed the Wig Store. We were window shopping and talking about how much fun it would be to try on a couple, when the owner came out. “Come into my shop! I have something that would really suit you,” she enticed us. Well, being as tipsy as I was, I wasn’t hard to convince. The next thing we knew, she was pulling hair off plastic lady heads, whipping out hair nets, and getting us to try on all kinds of things. When she popped the “Cleopatra” over top of my own short hair, I was sold. Of course, “Cleopatra” is a bit of a misnomer, unless the Queen of Egypt had blonde highlights, but I knew I had to buy that wig. And I did. “What are you going to do with it?” my friend asked. “I’m going to wear it home on the train on Friday and surprise Ken!” I said, which seemed like a great plan at the time.

On Friday, at the end of the day, I was starting to get a little nervous about my plan. Would it be obvious? Would people think I was weird? I took Cleo into the bathroom and maneuvered it onto my head. It was a little harder to adjust than when the wig shop owner had done it, but I finally got it looking symmetrical. When I came out to get my bags, a few co-workers were still there. “Wow!” said one, “It looks so real!” “Your husband is going to LOVE it!” said another. This made me feel a little better and not quite so self-conscious. On the train, when the drink cart came around, the female conductor did a bit of a double-take, mostly because I order from her every week. “I’m wearing a wig today,” I whispered. “That’s OK,” she said, like I was asking her permission, but she did assure me that it looked very natural. So I tipped her, which I don’t normally do, because technically she’s not a waitress, and because the train is such a big rip-off in the first place. 

When we finally got to the train station, I saw Ken through the window. I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face. And sure enough, when he saw me, he looked away, then back in confusion, then surprise. And then he frowned.

Me: Do you like my new look?
Ken: What are you doing?
Me: I wanted to surprise you.
Ken: Oh…
Me: What do you think?
Ken: Yeah, I don’t like it.
Me: You get that it’s a wig, right?
Ken: I like your hair short, though.
Me: It comes OFF. It’s a WIG. My normal human hair is still underneath.
Ken: Oh. It makes you look really different. I don’t like the bangs…
Me: Never mind.

I understand Ken’s reaction because he does the same thing when we’re out shopping. If I see something cool and ask him if he likes it too, he always says “No”, even if he does like it, because he’s worried that if he agrees with me, I’ll buy it. It’s taken 30 years to get him to understand that I just like to window shop. So I think he was concerned that if he said he liked the wig, I’d never take it off. We’d be like 90, and in a retirement home, I’d still be wearing “Cleopatra”, and all the old guys would want to “play Bingo” with me because I had the best hair. At any rate, I kept it on until we got to the store where K worked. Her reaction was a little more favourable—she laughed pleasantly, hugged me and said it “looked good”. And then we got home, where Titus met me at the door.

Titus: You’re home! This is the best day ever!
Me: Do you notice anything different?
Titus: Is that Swiss Chalet chicken?! Can this day GET any better?!
Me: So nothing?
Titus: Your hair grew. Give me some french fries!

Virtual Reality

(Before we begin this week’s trip into lunacy, I was thrilled when I found out yesterday that one of my pieces of short fiction would be appearing today in The Ekphrastic Review. Click here to read it!)

So this week, I’ve been busy researching other jurisdictions as part of my job, and I have to tell you, there is a HUGE uptick in sites devoted to armadillos. I was on one website that had an environmental slant, and it was literally cartoon armadillos everywhere and all I could think was “Who in their f*cking mind is going ALL IN on the armadillos? Are they like the next (and at this point, I asked Ken for something that was really popular and isn’t anymore so that I could include a clever analogy, and he said, “Pet rocks” and I said, “Something more recent—duh” and he said, “The bucket challenge?” and I was just about to ask for a divorce when he said…) “The woman yelling at the cat meme?” so I guess I don’t have to look for another husband yet. At any rate, I learned more about armadillos than I ever thought I would need to know and apparently they’re very cool, eat a lot of larvae and are also a good indicator of how well the environment is doing. But then I was like, “What do armadillos really look like?” so I googled some images of them while I was about to start a virtual Zoom meeting. Did you know that they’re actually very cute in a weird and sassy way? And at the same time, I was desperate to do what everyone else I know has been doing, and that’s to have a virtual background on my Zoom screen, and I finally figured out how to do it, but as the meeting started, I didn’t have anything except the picture of the armadillo that I’d just googled, so I USED THAT.

Me: Good morning everyone!
Team: Good morn–
Me: I finally figured out how to use the virtual background!
Colleague 1: Very nice. C’est un peu distracting.
Me: Look! If I reach around like this, I can pet it!
Colleague 2: It kind of looks like it’s sitting on your shoulder…
Me: I KNOW, RIGHT?!

But later, I had to have a meeting with our Chief Operating Officer, and as much as I love armadillos, I realized that I should probably have a virtual background that was more normal like everyone else who had tropical beaches or snowy forests. Unfortunately, my default was a gallery of Baby Yoda cookies from when I was doing a Zoom with my family. While it looked quite adorable and yummy, that was no good either. So I quickly found a picture of the garden house that Ken built for us, and then everyone was like “Wow—it looks so cute!” so I guess I don’t have to look for another job yet.

On Wednesday, Ken and I decided that it was important for us to get some fresh air at the end of every day, and because we live in a small town, we don’t have our own mail box—we have to go uptown to a bank of community mailboxes. It was a lovely day, and as Ken opened our mailbox, I looked up at the sky, smiled and said, “I feel like things are going to be OK” and then Ken pulled out the only piece of mail that we had, and it was a letter from the Purple Shield insurance company offering us a FREE WILL-PLANNING KIT and I was like “Sigh. Never mind.” And I don’t know if I’m more concerned about a company taking advantage of a pretty dire situation or the fact that now I have to think about things like “How To Ensure Your Wishes Are Honoured” because the other day, Ken and I went for a drive and we went past a cemetery with a mausoleum and I said, “Ooh, that’s what I want!” and Ken laughed and said, “I’m cremating you, sucker.” OK, Ken didn’t actually say it like that, but every time I say I want my casket to be interred in a mausoleum, he snickers derisively and I JUST KNOW that my last wishes will NOT be honoured. But I warned him that no matter what, I would haunt him and his new, younger wife by dipping their toothbrushes in the toilet and not telling them.

On Wednesday, Ken said to me, “Hey, where’s that wig you have?” I found it for him and he put it on for his team meeting. I was a little perturbed because the first time I wore that wig, he said, “I don’t like you with bangs” as if it was my permanent hair and I had just given myself an ill-advised trim. But I could hear his team laughing hysterically at the sight of him in my wig, and now I’m determined to wear it next week, and also buy a bunch of even nicer wigs, because if we have to work from home forever, who’s going to know whether or not my hair grew, or changed colour or whatnot? And then I don’t have to wash and style my hair every morning for the camera—I can just throw on a wig. This is the one I really want:

But I’m also willing to settle for something less glamorous if Prime can deliver it in 24 hours.

 Lastly, I went back through my notes and pictures to see what I had considered writing about this week and I found this:

Why do I have a picture of this?! I don’t remember taking a picture of this and I have no idea what it means. I am NOT from Chicago and I don’t know anyone who is. I have NEVER called anyone except Ken “Bitch” and only in that fun, drag queen-ish kind of way. Are there armadillos in Chicago? Because it seems like something an armadillo would say.