I was shopping in Clicks and noticed a product packaged as the’ best thing ever’ for a black man who normally shaves his head with a razor: Hair removal cream, which eliminates that pesky razor, and leaves the skin smooth and hairless in minutes. Now understand that I am in no way prejudiced, and I figured the product wouldn’t be either. I’ve never shaved my head, choosing clippers instead for the past 20 years. I therefore jumped at the chance to present a smooth and shiny dome to the world with one easy application of this miracle worker. No mess, no fuss.
Timing my hair removal to coincide with a pre-flight shower moments before I was due to leave for the airport, I followed every instruction to the T, grinning like a kid on Xmas eve – despite the stench that caused my eyes to water profusely.
The package said 5 minutes..I timed exactly 5mins..and…nothing really happened. Enough unfortunately to necessitate another try, as the odd tuft of hair had been partially removed. I felt a mild panic creeping up from my gut. The tube said absolutely no more than 10mins…I figured I’d give it another go for my remaining 5mins, but with double the previous amount I’d smeared on, taking no chances this time. I had obviously been too frugal and cautious the first time I reckoned.
The moment the cream touched my skin I knew I was in trouble, the kind of trouble your mother always warned you about, the kind with extreme repercussions. Excruciating pain emanated from my already singed pores the moment I wiped it across my head. Considering the many hours I have spent training as an ironman in the past, I figured I could suck it up. You know, swallow a cup of cement and all that!
5 Minutes though, is a very long time when the smell of burning epidermis hangs thick in the air, and it feels as if flames are licking at your head causing waves of pain and the feeling of heat approximating the coals of a braai ready to flame grill an elephant engulfs your tender cranium. Imagine how gutted I was after removing; the cream, numerous layers of my skin and more tufts of hair, only to discover I now looked like a patchwork quilt. A burnt patchwork quilt. I will look back on that moment as a particularly low point in my life. Not even flying over the handlebars of a bike comes close.
Two choices presented themselves…catch the flight as is, or shave with a razor. No other way to fix the mess of my head. I was already 10mins past my designated departure time from home. I decided I simply could not leave home looking like I had barely survived a very drunk and demented barber who was convinced I had looked demurely at his biker boyfriend. So, into the shower, and even lukewarm water burnt my head, soap became the she-devil. My head lathered in thick shaving cream, I tenderly scraped the razor over the smoldering wreck that was my healthy noggin only 30 minutes previously.
Some time later, and only half the patches had been removed. Lacking another mirror to view the stubborn stubble that remained, I had to rely on touch, thankful that by this stage most sensation had disappeared from the nerve endings on my raw scalp. In a rush I exited the shower and rubbed my head with a towel to dry it…another glaringly obvious mistake…it felt as if I’d attacked myself with the roughest grade of heavy duty sandpaper, the only ‘good’ news however, was that my nerve endings were obviously still attempting to perform their duty.
I reached for the second product packaged together with the hair remover that promised to soothe my newly glistening pate, and squeezed a liberal amount to apply this ‘godsend’ that was going to ease the pain on the deep and fiery red of my head. Yet another schoolboy mistake…I now know that product to be an alcohol based offering sent up straight from the depths of hell. I have a new understanding for the words; burn, singe, scorch, and searing. Excruciating enough to produce tears in my eyes and loud expletives, I reeled around, blindly feeling for the woman holding the offending flame thrower.
The endurance athlete in me somehow stepped up to the plate. Focus on the goal, an airplane has your name on it Rich. Sweating profusely, I raced to the airport and onto the plane. And there I sat…the stench of the hydroxide and acetate hanging thickly above my head (an interesting camouflage of bright red, puce, angry scarlet, and deep pink) and the air conditioning of the plane causing goose bumps on my still simmering dome. My dignity lay in tatters. In conclusion, I have learned the following:
Firstly, that black men have either tougher skin or softer hair than this fair whitie.
And secondly, schtooopid is as schtooopid does… Dumbass 😦