Good says, “It’s a very hard thing to do. It’s very difficult. I have one in Washington D.C. He goes to work as a man. He’s almost ready to retire, and once he retires, that’s it, he’ll have the surgery and that will be the end of it.”
The end of it, indeed. “How about men in general. How are they as clients?”
“They’re really faithful. I don’t care if it’s a man who’s wearing a toupee or a full piece. Men are faithful, even with their barbers. I had a 25th anniversary party five years ago, and some of the people there had been with me since I moved to San Diego in 1970.”
I don’t change barbers until they die or are imprisoned, because looking for a new barber ranks right up there with standing in line at the dmv. Still, I can see how wig loyalty would be different, more of a co-conspiracy foxhole. This leads me to wonder, “Have you ever had a customer walk into your store and thought, ‘This person shouldn’t have a wig’?”
“Absolutely.” Good moves toward a ringing telephone. “They can do what they want — it’s their money — but if they’re not ready, or they’re expecting too much, they shouldn’t buy a wig.”
“Expecting too much? Expecting to be 25 again?”
“They’re expecting to have their hair back.”
“When was the first time you wore a wig?” I’m speaking to Moné, an exotic dancer at Exposé, a Miramar Road strip club.
Moné replies, “A wig?”
Our conversation is taking place in the back, way back, of the club. To get here, you walk through the front door, go past the bar, beyond the stage floor, open a black metal door, travel down a narrow passageway, and turn left into a storage area. Three of us sit on metal chairs placed alongside coolers and cardboard boxes. I’ve asked the club’s owner, Dino Palmiotto, to sit in.
Moné is young, just on the right side of legal, and small, maybe five foot two. An inventory of her working tools includes an oval pubescent face, large brown eyes, full breasts, flat stomach, diminutive waist, wide hips, firm ass, and proportionally long legs.
I ask again, “When was the first time you wore a wig?”
Moné says, “You mean a wig, like, for wearing, or a wig as in costumes, or…?”
“Doesn’t matter. The first time you wore a wig. Anytime. Anyplace.” My voice sounds too cop.
Moné seems confused. I repeat, s-l-o-w-l-y, “When was the first time you put a wig on your head, for any reason?”
“I was, like, five.” Moné makes a little-girl smile. “I was a witch for Halloween.”
“Where did you get the wig?”
“At Target. It was a costume wig.”
“Did you pick it out or did your mom?” Oozing warmth here.
“I went to the store and picked it out. It was long and black, with white stripes that glowed in the dark.” Moné stops, thinks for a moment, says, “I was a witch.”
I’m beginning to sense the presence of a conversational black hole. “So there you were, you’re five years old, you’ve acquired the wig, brought it home, put it on, and looked in the mirror. What did you feel? What did you think?”
“I thought I looked good.”
“Did you think, ‘This is cool’?”
“Yes. I loved it.”
“Did you feel like another person?”
“What kind of person?”
“I don’t know. I’m five. I felt my character. I was a witch with long hair and a broom.”
I am adrift in a monosyllable bog. “So you went trick-or-treating, came back home, and took off your wig. Did you feel different after the wig came off, like, ‘Okay, showtime is over’?”
It’s lonely in the bog. “When did you get your next wig?”
“Man, I was a witch for, I don’t know how many years, and then I turned into Catwoman. I got a Catwoman wig for Halloween. That was high school.”
“Did you ever wear a wig other than on Halloween?” The bog doesn’t appear to have a beginning or end to it.
“I got a real wig during my sophomore year. I actually wore it. I used to trip people out because it was a short wig in a bob. I wore it when I didn’t feel like combing my hair.”
Land ho! Four complete sentences. “Which high school did you go to?”
“Kearny High School. I graduated in 2001.”
“How did you come by the high school wig?”
“From my mom, because she goes to wig stores sometimes.”
Got a rhythm going now. “Whose idea was it to get you a wig?”
“I brought it up to her.”
“Did you say, ‘Mom, I’d like to have a wig’?”
“Oh, yeah, I was, like, ‘Girl, let me borrow that wig.’ ”
The shoreline has disappeared. “What did that wig look like?”
“That one had a short bob, came down like that.” Moné touches her forehead.
There will be no coming home from the monosyllable bog for me. There will be no hot meal and toasty evening in front of the fire tonight. “What color was the wig?”
“It was black.”
Who will feed my dog? Who will fix the kitchen door? “Was the wig made out of human hair?”
“No, it was synthetic.”
And what about lawn care, particularly that brown section by the barbecue pit? “How did you attach the wig to your head?”
“It had a little Velcro snap,” Moné says. “You pull on it and snap on the sides to make it tighter.”
It isn’t fair. There was so much more I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to learn French…hold it! Maybe there is a way out of here. Indeed. Yes. I’ll answer my own questions!
Swelled with restored hope, I take a deep breath, look directly into placid brown eyes, and say, “I wonder, back in high school, when you got up in the morning, if you had a thought or a feeling that made you decide, ‘I’m going to wear my wig today.’ Maybe you thought, ‘I don’t have time to do my hair,’ or ‘I don’t want to do my hair this morning,’ or ‘I want to be sexy today.’ ” I beam as if this is the happiest moment of my life and then bark, “PICK ONE.”