Today was hard, guys. I knew it was going to be a Monday–like, Monday was going to come at me like a large white woman yearning for a Furby on Black Friday circa 1998. Admittedly, I wasn’t prepared. I wanted to believe that it was going to be okay, but it all came crashing down around noon o’clock. My roommate texted me to let me know that the estimate for his Lexus that I backed into was going to be approximately 2 to 3 million dollars. Fortunately, our insurance is about to run out or doesn’t cover white on white damage or is just really terrible, so there was this big question of “am I going to be paying for the 500 dollar deductible that I can’t afford, or will I be paying the 2 to 3 million dollar damage that I… still can’t afford?” The past weekend was long and this news was not how I wanted to start out my week, so I pulled my signature 23 year old man move: I cried in the bathroom. Twice.
I returned to my desk defeated, pre-reminscing over times where I had money in my bank account when I saw it: this New Yorker article from David Sedaris. He talked about his sister’s suicide and the impact it had on his family over the past six months or so. David Sedaris’ writing is always funny, but now all of a sudden, the guy I usually look to for laughs was making me reflect on my own life. Maybe I couldn’t afford life right now, and maybe I wouldn’t be able to pay rent, but it wasn’t this. At least everyone was alive–at least I was alive. We all have these issues that come up in our lives–these moments that make us just kind of want to give up, and we selfishly forget what other people may be facing. I don’t know what to do in my situation, but at least I have my life and my pseudo-health, and a roof over my head (for now). But most of all, thank God I have my hair gel. It’s not something that all of us can say.
Tragedies like death and loss of hair gel can take a while to recover from, so I’ve kept this story concealed for a while, close to my heart, where the worst of tragedies should remain. Upon moving to DC, or “The District,” I know that I tried my best to just be friends with everyone. I didn’t know anyone, and I couldn’t afford to make an enemy. So essentially, if I got invited to a party I went. There was too much at stake to lose. So one night, my roommates and I went over to some kind of theme party. Ultimately, it was a whole bunch of young professionals trying to encompass the ideal of what it means to be a young professionals. In reality, we all just really like cheap wine, and we didn’t know what to do at a social gathering without playing a drinking game. After a little while, we had given up on the yo-pro lifestyle and we were all just back to junior year of college, slapping cups off table and drinking wine out of the bottle (okay, I was drinking wine out of the bottle. so what. who cares).
The night was growing sillier and sillier, and suddenly I found myself in the middle of gossip: one of my favorite things to find myself in the middle of. Our party’s host had arguably drank way more than she should have, and the guy who lived next door had as well. They had disappeared into the night (or his apartment, whatever), and a small section of the party was just abuzz about it. His roommate, a spritely young fellow with particularly manicured hair, seemed most concerned, “I know I should step in and say something, but I don’t want to be a cockblock.” Cockblock: the bro-iest of bro terms. As a Brother of a fraternity for three years in college, I was no stranger to the bro terms, nor was I a stranger to being the guy who inevitably was the “cockblock” for the greater good. I immediately volunteered because I care about women’s rights and walking in on other people having sexy time is particularly hilarious.
We formulated a plan: I would go use the bathroom because the one in the partypartment was taken. Flawless. I knew it wouldn’t take much work to stop the activity because they hadn’t been in there for very long. There was no way they were in mid-coitus yet, and even if they were, I would just do what my dad did when two of our dogs got “caught up” while reproducing: pour warm water on them until it loosened up. And yes, dogs DO get “caught up” sometimes. It’s a thing: watch here. Anyway, they were just making out on the couch, so I pulled the classic Justin move and said, “Oh gosh, I’m sorry. I’m so embarrassed. I’m going to go to the bathroom!” I stepped into the bathroom and gave them the appropriate amount of time to separate. In that thirty seconds, I got bored. I was wearing a big black hoodie that night (#Justice4Trayvon), and because I was such a good citizen, I felt like I deserved a prize. I decided to heist some hair gel that I saw on the counter… Garnier Fructis to be exact. Nothing too fancy–your standard mid-shelf styling product, apparently designed for surfers, though there’s no legitimate waves anywhere near Washington D.C. I didn’t think what I had done was a big deal, and yes, I bragged about it a little because, well, wine. But I was wrong. Just like that, I had spat on the alter of bro culture. I had stolen the hair gel, the paste if you will, and in the process… stolen a piece of the same spritely bro who I originally was helping out.
A couple of days went by before news had hit. But, as we all know, you can’t thieve hair gel/paste without it eventually bubbling to the surface. The next week, the party’s host revealed to me that she had tattled: bro knows. And bro was pissed. I wasn’t sure when I would see him again, so I assumed the fire would eventually die. Sometimes, I forget when someone screws me over like ten minutes after it happened, but I was so wrong. A couple weeks later, he deleted me from Facebook, and when he decided to have a birthday bash, he invited all of my friends except for me. Nothing felt okay anymore, and I had never been purposefully not invited to a party. People loved having me at parties, and it’s not like I stole a television or anything. I mean, if it would fit in my hoodie pocket, maybe, but that’s an absurd thought. A television would obviously not fit in my hoodie pocket. Regardless, I found no legitimate reason to not go to the party, so… I invited myself. I’m from the South though, and if I learned anything about etiquette, you never go to a party without a gift. A couple hours before the rager/soiree, I decided to go to CVS and buy some, you guessed it, Garnier Fructis. I wanted to use the mid-grade paste to patch up the split ends of what was once a respectable acquaintanceship. I wanted to be loved again.
Once we got to the party, I noticed that he avoided me. I heard through the grapevine he never wanted to see my face again, which… I repeat, is over a canister of hair gel. But I’ve always had naturally tame, luscious hair, so maybe I’m just really underselling the importance of hair care products. Finally, I had him cornered. The only thing he could hit me with was his fists, a bag of Goldfish, and a half empty bowl of stale Tostitos (I knew they were stale because I singlehandedly ate the rest of the chips in the bowl). I nervously approached him and said, “Hey, so, I know that you know that I know that you know about me taking your hair gel. I had a lot of wine, and that was a really bad mistake, soooo… I brought you this.” I brought the hair gel around from my back like a proud second grader presenting some macaroni art to his mother. He said, “Oh cool,” took the hair gel, tossed it on the table, and walked away. Not cool, bro. Not cool. Throughout the rest of the night, I drank Milwaukee’s Best from a keg, ate stale chips, and called it a day. I had lost the social struggle, and when I lose, I stress eat.
Unfortunately, I never salvaged what we kind of once had, you know, when we were at parties with mutual friends. Sometimes my friends bring it up to me, and I get really defensive about it and talk about how it wasn’t even that great. Sometimes his friends bring it up to him, and apparently he reference how I didn’t even get the right brand to repay him with. As my boss sometimes tells me, the devil’s in the details. Damn it. But in the end, these moments are learning moments: the losing of a sibling means that you should appreciate your family and show them love every single day without a pause. The hitting the car… pay attention more often, particularly at the end of your driveway. The stealing of the hair gel? Be conscious of your decisions whether you’re tipsy or sober.
As for having your hair gel stolen? I guess that means you need to hide your shit, bro.