At the party I attended on New Year’s Eve, a man I’d known and respected for years, a major Hillary fan BTW, said, apropos of absolutely nothing, “So what’s with Hillary’s hair?”A collective gasp whooshed around the living room. At that moment, the ball in Times Square quivered in its perch. Horns fell silent. Ryan Seacrest, believe it or not, fell silent. Mack, a pseudonym I’ll use for our questioner so he won’t be forced to enter the witness protection program, repeated, because those around him seemed too stunned to answer, “I mean, what’s with the hair?”
I cleared my throat to tell him what. In spades. But his wife beat me to it. She rolled her eyes, reached over and applied a very expert Three Stooges noogie to his balding pate before proceeding to explain in a barely controlled vibrato, “The woman has flown almost a million miles in the last four years. Do you know what an airplane's re-circulated air does to hair? Turns it to straw.”
I chimed in, “When I shampooed in the hard Los Angeles water last month, I had to use half a bottle of L’Oreal’s Total Repair to untangle my curls. The tap water even in the five star hotels in Sudan (do they have five star hotels in Sudan?) doesn’t approach the quality of camel pee. That’s what the Secretary of State of the foremost (maybe still) western power sluices through her hair.”“Hey, Mack, you seem to have hit a nerve,” a male voice contributed.
It had come to this. Men commenting on Hillary’s hair. Okay, Rush Limbaugh gagging over an unfortunate upsweep do of Hillary’s and posting a Bride of Frankenstein doctored photo on his website. Rush, I can understand. But normal men?
Women I forgive. Our hair, and other women’s hair, is an obsession of my gender. Not because we don’t possess the intellect for more lofty obsessions, but because we’ve been conditioned (forgive the pun) since childhood to be ruled by our hair. Take me, for example. This is my second post about hair and my blog has only been up since July. I am mortified. I am repentant. I am writing this.“Why doesn’t anyone talk about John Boehner’s hair? Looks like a wig to me. And do you remember Tom Delay’s shiny black plastic toupee. Did you ever hear comments about that?” This was called in by a woman on the far side of the room.
From another:“Carl Levin’s comb-over starts an inch above his left ear.” The Democrat senator from Michigan has to be in terror of a high wind. “Does that make the New York Times? What about men and appearance?”“They say Chris Christie’s fat,” a male voice countered.
“And they, whoever they are besides dietitians, find it endearing. Half grizzly bear, half Teddy and he takes no crap from no quarter. The man swings weight, among other anatomical features, and he’s admired for it.” I sighed. “The Huffington Post ran a slide show of photos spanning the Hillary hair years between college and now. Bangs and no bangs. Headbands. Sexy wavy. Short and sassy. Long and exhausted. She’s probably been through hundreds of hairstyles since Wellesley.” I paused for effect. “Do you really think that’s accidental?”All heads turned. A conspiracy theory starring Hillary Clinton? Irresistible. Someone muted the televised cacophony from Times Square. “This is a very smart, very shrewd woman,“ I continued. “She’s sending us a message.”
“A message? “ was the chorused question.“ A message that she’s flexible. She’s adaptable. She embraces change. She welcomes diversity. She’s way beyond superficial concerns. She chooses to sacrifice form for function. She’s willing to put her scalp on the line for these United Sates of America.“ I caught a pre- coup de gras breath. “Which makes her perfect presidential material. Watch out for 2016.”
The conservatives hanging around the bar groaned in unison and many hands simultaneously reached for the bottle of Gray Goose.Yet now, just as we have her back, Hillary’s leaving us. In two weeks she’ll be departing the State Department. How she will wear her hair as she ends this chapter in her career is unknown. Maybe she’ll do a Sinead O’Connor. Maybe a perky pageboy, like Mary Tyler Moore's as she edged to the door at WJM-Minneapolis in the final episode. At which point, those who think Hillary was the best secretary of state since John Quincy Adams will no doubt be tearing their own hair. And those who think she’s the devil incarnate will be praying it is her final episode. My fellow Americans, don’t count on it.
In the meantime, in her most recent stepping stone role she will be replaced by John Kerry. John Kerry! Now what’s with that hair?