The Dreadlock Suite: Tales to Relieve a Mother’s Distress

1. Introduction: Creation Ex Neglectio
We have a major, jumbo hot dog size dreadlock living in our house. Residing at the back of our sapling son’s head, it is, thank goodness for small mercies, functionally obscured by his gorgeous, curly ponytail.
This dreadlock, like all dreadlocks, is a mass of matted, tangled hair. Unlike some, say the ones on the heads of reggae players, this dreadlock was formed naturally, without the use of artificial aids such as assorted animal dungs.
“I’ve got a really nice dreadlock forming,” our son had announced one evening during a phone call from his summer job in the north woods of Wisconsin.
Not knowing what a dreadlock was, I ignored the announcement.
“My dreadlocks are really doing nicely,” our son commented during a later call. “I have two of them.”
This time I inquired more closely. His response was neither obvious nor comforting to the uninitiated. “They’re called a dreadlocks because mothers dread them.”
When our son stepped off the bus at the end of the camping season, I finally became clear on the concept. Through histrionics too ugly to detail, I managed to have the number of dreadlocks extant in our family reduced to one. The other, beneficiary of my longstanding but previously only weakly tested commitment to personal freedom in matters of appearance, grows on.
<span style=”margin-left: 25px;”>But I don’t have to like it.

2. Unintended Consequences Protect the Grandchildren
Wassim-the-harem-administrator’s entire staff went on strike. He answered their job action with a series of well-placed counter strikes, employing his consummately sharpened scimitar. While effectively getting his point across, Wassim’s management style had a predictable short-term downside. He alone was left to tend the sultan’s demanding bevy of beauties.
Desperate, Wassim ran out into the street. His eyes darted left, right, up, down, left, right, left again. There. Just what he needed. A naive young American trekker who had no inkling of the basic requirements for working in a seraglio. Wassim prayed the scum was hungry enough.
“Hey, kid. You want to earn some easy dough?”
“Maybe. Doing what?”
“My kitchen staff all came down with the flu. Real sudden. Forty gorgeous, curvaceous girls are coming to my restaurant for a bridal shower. I need help making and serving dinner. Not so hard and I pay well. Enough for you to live on for a week.”
“I’ve got a gig at a jazz club tonight. Will I be finished by midnight?”
“Yes, it will all be finished by midnight.”
Wassim took the American’s arm and gently nudged him in the direction of the palace. “Just a few steps, around the corner,” he murmured reassuringly. When the youth turned, something caught Wassim’s eye. “Aiee,” he squealed, throwing his arms up in the air. “What is that at the back of your head? I have never seen anybody with a second one there.”
“Hey man, that’s my dreadlock. Three years old this summer. Nice huh?”
“Aiee!! A deadlock. A deadlock. I will have to remove it too! The master would never allow that in among his women. It would lock my death, that deadlock. Aiee!!”
“No job is worth losing my dreadlock,” said the American. “And what do you mean, you’ll have to remove it too?” Suddenly very uneasy, he swung around. “Go find someone else to serve your bridal shower,” he spat as he sped off into the crowd.
“Aiee,” wailed Wassim. “I am lost. I should have kept my mouth shut. But something that disgusting I have never seen before.”

3. Nursery Nostalgia
There was a little boy
who had a second toy
hanging from the back of his top head.

When he was good,
he kept it in its hood.
And when he was bad,
he was florid.

4. A Fashion Sensation
Bienvenue, welcome, mesdames et messieurs, ladies and gentlemen, to our exciting fashion show, showcasing new hair styles for the now generation. Our first presentation down the walkway this afternoon comes to us from North America, melting pot of the world, where the raw spirituality of deepest, drought-ridden Africa has mixed with the raw masculinity of the wetlands of northern Wisconsin to produce the exquisite hairstyle on our first model.
Peekaboo versatility is the surprise hallmark of this young man’s coiffeur, painstakingly nurtured for years before it reached the full, glorious zenith you see before you today.
As he walks slowly down into your midst, please notice the delightfully curly low slung ponytail, harmoniously set off by the hair pulled tight against the rest of the skull. The casually crooked part, meandering down the middle of the crown, deliciously enhances the overall impression of moderate but still unquestionably presentable unconventionality.
Stop for a moment, young sir, and show our audience the bodacious surprise you are concealing from them.
Voilà ladies and gentlemen, mesdames and messieurs. What do you see when this handsome specimen lifts his ponytail? A fully-developed, eternally and gordianly knotted dreadlock.
No ordinary dreadlock, this unsuspected bonus boasts a subtle L-shaped bend, one third of the way up from the bottom. Very difficult to achieve, I assure you. Uniformly round all the way from tip to root, this is a magnificent dreadlock, one that any mother’s son would be proud to call his own.
Let’s hear a round of thunderous applause for this cunningly complex, cutting-edge hair design. What a viewing privilege has been ours today!

5. To Marry or Knot?
Once upon a time, in a far off land, there lived a king and a queen who had a handsome, brave, strong, brilliantly clever, young son. “The time has come, our
son,” said the king and the queen, speaking perfectly in unison as always, “to find you a bride.”
“Yes, my parents,” answered the prince. “But she must be a very special person. She must pass a diabolically difficult test. She must untangle my dreadlock without hurting me.”
“That is a perfect test,” said the king and queen. “Only a woman who can untangle your dreadlock painlessly is worthy to be your bride. We will declare an
open season on your dreadlock for the next four months. That should be enough time. Get it all settled before the first snows fall.”
When the young women of the realm heard the proclamation announcing the bridal contest, they lined up before the gates of the castle. Each one carried a sack slung over her shoulder and a smile of hope on her face. Each believed her innovative technique was sure to win the prince.
One by one, the women were admitted to the inner courtyard of the castle. Most solicitously, one by one, they were shown up to the prince’s room. There, for three full hours every morning, the prince sat patiently, on a high-backed chair in the middle of the room, blindfolded by a velvet sleep mask. His dreadlock, fetchingly framed by his raven black hair, hung down, unencumbered, against the rich antique cream satin brocade upholstery.
One by one, the women approached the chair. Each one opened her sack to retrieve her special combs and carefully formulated, environmentally-friendly, detangling lotions and sprays. Each one took a deep breath as she prepared herself to begin the test. One by one, the women’s faces dropped: at the merest glancing touch of his dreadlock, the prince let out an impatient yelp of pain.
After three months, the king and queen began to despair of ever having a daughter-in-law. No more women lined up at the gates of the palace. All the eligible women in the realm, all the eligible women in the neighboring realms, and all the eligible women in the realms neighboring the neighboring realms had tried to untangle the prince’s dreadlock without hurting him, and failed.
Even the prince was feeling discouraged. Perhaps he had been too clever in devising the bridal test. Still, he had spent years growing his dreadlock to its present magnificent state. How could he ally himself for life with someone who could not demonstrate, through her gentleness and ingenuity, her appreciation of its symbolic significance for his core identity?
One week, two weeks, three weeks longer, the prince sat in his chair every morning, blindfolded, waiting in vain for another young woman to attempt the bridal test.
By the fourth day of the fourth week of the fourth month, the prince had almost completely resigned himself to being a bachelor. He no longer listened eagerly for footsteps at the door. His full attention was turned inward, contemplating his dreary future: always a best man, never a groom.
Snip! What was that?
The prince jerked his head forward. It felt horribly lighter. Frantically he patted the back of his head. His dreadlock! It was gone! In between the two wings of curly hair flowing down his back was a gaping space.
“What the fuck,” yelled the prince. Ripping off the sleep mask he jumped up out of his chair and whirled around to face his attacker. “Who are you and how dare you cut off my dreadlock,” he roared, menacing her with his fist.
“Just cool it,” she said, counter-menacing with her scissors. “I’m a contestant in your bridal contest, from four realms over. My horse gave out about a month ago. I was afraid I wasn’t going to get here before the deadline. But I did and I still have three whole days to untangle this piece of shit. Relax. You won’t feel a thing.” And then she smiled the most beautiful smile.
The prince hesitated, just a moment, and then he smiled his prize-winning smile back.
When the king and queen came scurrying into the room to investigate the commotion, they were astonished to see their son, Gordius, and a foreign woman sitting cross-legged on the floor. Their heads bent together, the two of them were painstakingly untangling the dreadlock.
“I’m responsible for getting my hair into this mess,” said Gordius. “It’s only fair that I help straighten it out. Mom and Dad, meet Alexandra, my future wife.”
Of course they all lived happily ever after.