Back when I was a bright-eyed, twenty-some-year-old, college student and living in Memphis, I found myself frequenting a hair salon with a predominately-White clientele. The salon was one of those chains you typically find in a mall. Matter of fact, this one was located in what, at the time, was my favorite mall--the now demolished, though forever infamous (smile) Mall of Memphis.
Anyway, I was sporting a perm back then and I'd somehow lucked up on a fella at this particular salon who could give me that hot, poofed-out look all the PYT's were sporting in the '80s. So one day, I'm there sitting under the dryer (possibly getting a conditioner, I can't recall) when the older White lady seated next to me strikes up a conversation.
No biggie right? Happens all the time in salons across America, I'm sure. But hold on, this one was a little bit different. This lady, bless her lil ole heart, starts in on how she loves my color.
"Oh my, I just absolutely love your color! I'd give anything to be able to tan like that."
With the salon music blaring (Duran, Duran, no doubt) in the background and the dryer humming on full blast, it takes me a few seconds to process the information and to realize, okay, wait, she thinks I'm . . .
I've barely finished the thought when she smiles ever so sweetly and asks, "So are you Greek? Jewish? Italian?"
Okay, granted, I'm a card-carrying member of the light-skinned tribe. I have a tendency to wash out in pictures and grow pale in the winter-time. And, sure, my perm-straightened head was tucked inside of a dryer. But I'm sorry, the nose is a dead-give away. Till this day, how anyone could ever mistake me for anything other than a person of African descent, truly boggles my mind.
In any case, I smile ever so sweetly back at her and say, "No ma'am, actually, I'm African American."
The sweet little old lady's smile disappears and for the remainder of our stints beneath our respective dryers, she doesn't utter so much as another word in my direction. Go figure (LOL).
(Written while listening to Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady," "I Say A Little Prayer," and "Think.")