Oh, What a Tangled Web, My Weave

After 20 years of loving my locks, what happens when a sistah decides to play it straight?

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Strange things happen when the husband of a happily married woman goes out of town. She calls up her girlfriends and begs them to come over, plying them with champagne and cupcakes. She spends inordinate amounts of time online, staring at dresses that if her husband were home, he would mock derisively.

"I hate those dresses," he says about a Pucci print, "My grandmother had one just like it."

And there will be no explaining the merry-go-round of fashion, how what is old is always, inevitably, new again. When the husband's away, the wife will play. She will shop. She will wear ridiculously high shoes and take a taxi to meet her friends 10 blocks away. And sometimes, every once in a while, she will get a weave.

At 37, I've had dreadlocks for nearly half my lifetime. Why I got them is not really important; what is important is that I like them. I cringe when people say "your hair must be so easy; you never have to do anything to it." Because anyone with a natural hairstyle knows, it takes work to keep chemical-free hair neat. And if you're a person who likes to play with her locks—a sweet Audrey Hepburn bun one day, the next day, curly locks (achieved via rod set and three hours underneath the dryer)—then it is an effort. Not to mention, I like to color my hair. I've settled into a caramel brown with light highlights, but my locks have been everything from dirty blonde to fire engine red. And my husband, bless his Pucci-hating heart, loves my hair.

That said, my husband was away. I sat in the reception area of Duafe, the natural hair mecca in Philadelphia and waited for my appointment with Syreeta Scott, hair stylist to the stars (Jill Scott among them). I sat looking at a book of 'dos and a picture of a girl with a long Naomi Campbell like ponytail entranced me. Could I have hair like that?

When Syreeta came out to greet me, I asked her.

"A weave?" she asked, laughing. "Oh, Lord. What'll Jason say?"

Syreeta knows my husband and thinks he's hilarious. "Jason's out of town, and I want to surprise him," I explained.

"Let's do it," Syreeta said. "But not now. I've got to pick out some hair and need to block out some time—five hours worth."

I returned to the salon at 9 p.m. the following night. Right away, there was a buzz when I got to the salon. Weaves don't come through often at a natural hair salon, and no one had seen someone with locks get a straight weave. (There are natural hair weaves, but that's another hair story.) Syreeta and her crew ordered dinner—Jamaican, from a place called Little Delicious—and as we ate, I explained—my husband was away, I wanted to do something surprising.