The Teeth of a New Comb

Recently, I misplaced my comb. I’d say that it’s lost, but it can’t be. I live in a one-bedroom apartment that is no bigger than ~650 sq feet. More than that, I only ever put it down atop my bathroom vanity or at the end of my bed. Where I comb my hair largely depends on how foggy the bathroom mirror is after my shower. More often than not, I comb my hair in front of the mirror on my bedroom wall; my comb is usually at the end of my bed.

I’ve been using my travel comb. I say it’s a “travel” comb, but I never take it with me when I travel. It sits on the second shelf of my linen closet. I hate travelling. When I do travel, I usually end up somewhere where there’s already a comb: my parents’ or my sister’s place. Even if there isn’t a comb, I’m not bothered because I’m wearing my hat.

The only reason I will make the effort to comb my hair is to go to work or, occasionally, to go on a date.

I’m not a bald man. In fact, I think I have a good head of hair. I used to argue with an ex-girlfriend about whether or not I had better hair than Ryan Gosling. She never let me win. She’s now an ex.

My comb is tapered, such that the space between the teeth narrows as the comb itself does. It’s long, too, stretching nearly six inches. It’s flimsy in a way that allows me to whisp the puff of my hair. I was able to use the widely spaced teeth to construct a foundation, and then turn the comb around to used the narrowly spaced teeth to tease down any vagrant hairs.

My travel comb isn’t tapered. It’s only about five inches long. Half way along its length, the spacing between the teeth switches from wide to narrow. It’s a stiffer construction. It’s got a couple of crooked teeth. And, the teeth are sharp.

Despite being old, it’s a new comb in so many ways.

Like anything new, I’m learning how to use it effectively. I have to take time when combing my hair to ensure that I’m getting the look I want. I experience a fear – a fear of the new – whenever I stand in front of the mirror with my travel comb in hand.

When I combed my hair on Thursday morning with my travel comb, I got a nice puff. It took some care. I tend to graze the teeth near my scalp, but I can’t with the travel comb because the new, sharp teeth hurt the sensitive skin that protects my cranium. I had to lift and float the comb through my hair. It took some doing.

There’s nothing poetic about this. My maternal grandfather died really young, but with a full head of hair. I’ve no idea how many combs I’ve got left to lose.

Truth is, I won’t get another comb until my father visits and forgets to pack his comb when he leaves. And, I know that if he leaves his comb when he visits next, I’ll get a call from him a couple of days after he returns home wherein he asks me if he left his comb. From there, I’ll have to explain to him that the postage to return his comb will cost more than him going out to buy a new comb. Still, I’d pay the postage because he’s bought me every button-up shirt I’ve worn for the last fifteen years, alongside a size larger for him to wear.

My father hates it – HATES it – when I appear unkempt. Most days I do my hair, it’s his voice that pierces deeper than the pain of any travel comb. He’s so much better looking than me, making it hard to neglect his advice.

He’s never been to a dentist in his life.

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