Let me state it clearly and plainly: I lost my doo-rag and I am absolutely devastated about it. I am talking real deal, genuine feelings of deep loss. I think about my doo-rag (her name was Betty) all of the time—our history together. Life has not been the same since Betty has been gone.
I know some may think I am being funny. Understand, this is not a satirical post. I truly miss my doo-rag. I miss Betty. Sure, to some, a doo-rag may seem like a flimsy piece of satin; but the right doo-rag can become almost like a friend (I know some sistas out there are giving me an “Amen”).
I can’t remember exactly when Betty and I met, but I do remember that our connection was immediate. She fit my head perfectly: didn’t have arms too long so that I had to wrap them endlessly, didn’t have the cone of extra material that some doo-rags have at the top, and had rounded seams designed for a smaller head. Betty understood what type of support I needed and never left my side (or rather my head). Shortly after we met, I brought her to college with me. She was still young then: had the sheen of new satin and was a bubble-gum pink.
Throughout college—my most formative years –Betty was there. I kept her on with my shower cap for extra protection from the sometimes rusty water found in the old dorms at my Historically Black University. She ensured that my hair stayed “tight” on the rare occasion that I could afford to get it done, since I was living on a college-student’s budget. She weathered all of my various hairstyles during my experimental years.
Betty’s presence, or lack thereof, was a symbol of the seriousness of a relationship.
Phase 1 – Feelings are growing, sex is hot – Betty was hidden in the drawer.
Phase 2 – We’ve been kicking it for a while now– Betty is informally introduced. Betty would come out after any relations. I would sleepily put her on when all fun was had and we were drifting off to sleep.
Phase 3 – we are in a fully-committed relationship – It’s understood at this point of the relationship that to love me is to also accept Betty. She is wrapped around my dome during the nightly routine of brushing teeth and washing my face.
Betty was with me throughout my most serious relationship, my marriage. I packed her up and took her to Seattle with me so that I could look my best when I said, “I do.” Actually, Betty has gone with me on every trip. She has been to at least 30 states and 6 countries; she was there when 15 of us coeds would squeeze into one hotel room so that we could attend major games like the Bayou classic; when I went hiking through Italy with my friend to celebrate her divorce; when I travelled to Jamaica for a friend’s 50th birthday; and when I went on a dream trip to Greece. I tried to find a “travel Betty”, a doo-rag that I could keep in my cosmetic case and carry with me when I traveled; but I couldn’t find a doo-rag that fit me as well as she did. I wanted a replacement-travel doo-rag because I was scared that I would lose Betty on one of my many trips, which is exactly what ended up happening. I lost her on a trip.
Prior to losing her permanently, there were many false alarms and scares—several times I thought that she was lost, over the years. I’d frantically tear the house up, ripping back sheets, looking under pillows, searching in the night stand drawers, going through the laundry. Eventually my family would always get swept up in my frenzy and would start looking for the beloved scrap of satin. Pure relief would wash over me when she was discovered inside of a pillowcase or under the bed. But this time, I knew that alas, Betty was gone for good.
I feel a bit guilty because I treated her badly the last time we were together. I was in Vegas with some friends for a girls’ weekend (J.Lo concert, shopping & cocktails). On our final morning there, there was a knock at our door with room service delivering our breakfast. I threw on the complimentary hotel robe, hastily ripped Betty off my head (the room service attendant didn’t’ deserve to see all THAT), a stuffed Betty in the robe pocket.
And there she stayed—left in the pocket of a random robe to be washed in the massive, industrial washing machine with sex-stained sheets and bleached towels. After over 25 years of consistent and superb service– she deserved better.
I knew I would never get her back. I briefly thought about making a “Reward if Found” poster to place in the hotel’s laundry room—offering a nice sum of money and pictures of Betty. I had so many pictures of her that I could’ve used: snaps from Christmases past that I didn’t take her off when I sleepily watched the kids open gifts, of me breast-feeding the kids in the wee hours of the morning, late night gossip sessions with me and my girls back in the day. My life with her—from bubble-gum pink to dingy gray—was aptly captured.
Betty has proven to be irreplaceable. I’ve tried. I’ve put myself “out there.” I’ve been shopping around—even tried online dating. Not one purchased doo-rag has fit my head correctly. Some have even been made out of cotton!! (what in the hell?!?!)
So, I now amble through life each day without the one thing that has been by my side since high school—my doo-rag, Betty. I’m typically not the type to be attached to an inanimate object; but, I’m truly sad. More importantly I’m raggedy—my hair ain’t been as laid since that fateful morning in Vegas.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more