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Moné smiles, shakes her head, and says, “I don’t know if you want to ask me that question. I got a whole lot of reasons, different reasons, a lot of different reasons.”

ZOUNDS! “Tell me every one. Don’t hold anything back!”

Moné settles into her chair. “It depends on how I feel when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and be like, ‘Hmm.’ Or maybe I feel like I need to be adventurous. Or maybe I’m going to have to do a whole lot of errands and I feel like being cute. Or I ain’t really going nowhere, but I still need to be cute. So I might throw on a wig, just to do something different.”

I have witnessed a verbal avalanche. “How many wigs do you own now?”

“I have two since I moved out of my mom’s house. She has three. We used to rotate them. She goes for the shorter, flipped, more sophisticated style. She’s a nurse, so it has to be short and clean. They be cute. For me, I wear the short one in public, because it’s more calm. You know what I mean?”

I nod my head with great enthusiasm.

“The other wig I wear to work sometimes. It’s long. It comes down to here,” tiny fingers touch tiny shoulder tips, “and it has a little bang thing. But I don’t mess with that. I just brush some hair over it, make me a little swoop, and then let it hang down.”

Of course. Precisely so. “When you’re dancing, do you like one style of music when wearing one type of wig and another kind of music when wearing another kind of wig?”

“The wig I wear to work, the long one, the one I wear my purple dress with, well, I’ll tell Lou to put on something upbeat, you know what I’m saying? Music like that. Because normally I dance to a lot of reggae with the braids.” Completely engaged now, Moné chirps, “It changes with the hairdos. I change my hairdos, which makes the music change.”

So that’s how it works. I wonder if wigs “affect your money, since the way you look influences how men react to you, and how men react to you determines how much money you earn.” Moné’s face is blank. I resize the question. “Do you get more tips wearing a short wig or a long one?”

“Hmm.” Moné takes a moment and considers the implications. “I haven’t noticed. It doesn’t matter, to be truthful. My face is soft, it has that little-girl quality. So no matter what hairstyle I have, it’s not…”

“Men are attracted to the face and not the hair.”

“Right.”

So much for my wig unified field theory. “Everybody I’ve talked to who wears a wig has a story about the time it fell off…”

Moné interrupts, “I was onstage. I was getting dressed.” Full stop. “Was I getting dressed?” Stop. “How did I bump the wig?” Long stop. “Oh, yes, I was taking my clothes off. It was the second song. Everybody was looking because I’m about to get naked. I was taking off my dress, and I bumped my wig and,” Moné giggles, “I looked in the mirror to see who’s looking at me, like I usually do, and saw that my wig had come off. So I played like my dress was caught on my hand or something. I pulled my head down and started taking my dress off and got the wig back on.”

The Heimlich flesh maneuver. “If you could buy any wig, which one would you buy?”

Moné says, “It’s just way bad. It’s brow level, and it’s layered in front, and it has that human part down the middle. It’s human hair. That’s a bad wig.”

I look down at my leg and beam as if a little human-hair wig were sitting on my knee. “What color would the wig be? Purple, blond…?”

“Lime green.”

Green is good. “When you wear a wig, do you feel more confident?”

“I feel that. But number one, I feel it’s different. It’s different without having to do too much. Or when I’m lazy, it’s like, ‘I’ll throw this one on and go to the store.’ Or if I feel like clubbing…it’s a lot of things.”

Moné adds, let me stress, she adds voluntarily, “Let me tell you something. I wore a wig here. I was going to school. I have to shoot from school to here and I don’t have time to do my hair. But I’m out in the daylight. I can’t have everybody thinking, ‘She’s wearing a wig.’ The wig I have has the little fake human part in it. So I part it, put a cute little barrette on, and no one knows.”

That’s the question, isn’t it? Why wear a wig if everybody knows you’re wearing a wig? I ask, “What about sex? You’re being intimate; people’s hands are in people’s hair. At the appropriate moment, do you drop a ‘Hang on, baby, while I take off my wig’?”

Moné, sounding for the first time like a full-grown woman, says, “If I’m having sex with you, I’m very comfortable with you, and we’re very comfortable with each other. So I’ll go into the bathroom and take my hair off, and when I come back, it’s going to be gone.”


“When I measure a head for a wig,” Good says, “I have to measure a little smaller. When your hair is gone, you’d be surprised how tiny your head is.”

I’m back on Third Avenue talking to Ms. Good. She’s explaining how things work. “Most wig stores do not employ a licensed cosmetologist or barber. The state of California does not require that. You,” Good points to my chest, “can cut on a wig. I can teach you how to cut a wig, but you cannot cut a person’s hair without a license.”

Got it. No cut human hair. I ask about matching a person to a wig. Good retrieves several catalogs containing wig lore. Many pictures. Actually, many more than many pictures. In fact, after perusing only a few volumes of the styles and colors and lengths and sizes and manufacturers of wigs, I’ve come to believe there must be vast sections of our country inhabited solely by bald-headed people.

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