Before I begin, I just want to say that blogging is far more difficult than it needs to be when WordPress is blocked, as it’s been for the last few weeks. #Occupy WordPress is on.
There’s no small secret that I carry a torch for Zooey Deschanel. I’m only a 20-something American male, after all. Her movies and her music – her entire manic mantra – are pitch-perfect, and I won’t hesitate to talk up her chops or her vocals or her dimpled charm. She’s adorkable, in the utmost.
Still, despite the dozens on comments adorning my Facebook wall now that her new show’s been released, it’s not as if there are other actor-singers I enjoy hearing-watching more. Zooey doesn’t stand out because of her artistic credentials, or because her voice sends me into some whirling, retro-pop tizzy. Likewise, and while I’d never call her* anything less than attractive – she does carry 98% of the male population, after all – it’s not as if there aren’t more beautiful women out there.
*Or any other woman, of course.
Nah, it’s not her voice, and it’s not her looks. It’s not the whole Katy-Perry-does-Patsy-Cline routine. It’s not even, because everyone associates me with anything Zooey, that I encounter her every time her career takes a turn. No, there’s only one thing about Zooey that keeps me coming back for more.
Those bangs. Those damn black bangs.
There’s no logic to the attraction, no Neanderthalic push, that would make Zooey’s bangs any more alluring than, say, a bowl cut, or a mullet, or a lower-back rat-tail.* There’s nothing that, evolutionarily, should generate such appeal. But there it is. Like corduroys or Chinese food before them, I’ll follow bangs to uncomfortable measures, and have neither compunction nor filter when writing about them.
*All of which are far more popular with the men in this nation than I’d like to acknowledge.
Now, you may wonder why I’ve elected to begin this post talking about Zooey Deschanel’s best assets, what the headwear of the headliner of She & Him has to do with a steppe-set life. Firstly, I’d offer that it’s my blog, so be thankful I haven’t written about her in every post. Secondly, this self-serving* preamble is actual a segue into one of the more appealing aspects of the fashion mode we’ve encountered in Kazakhstan. Because despite the dearth of Zooey fans in Siberia, the women of Kazakhstan have all decided that, truly, there’s no better look than a set of straight-drawn bangs.
*No better way to gear for writing than Googling pictures of Zooey Deschanel.
Everywhere you look, from the boutiques of Almaty to the janitors of Presnovka, women in this country have opted for the eyebrow-length bangs that Zooey has presented and perfected. None of that side-swept stuff some Americans offer – the bangs of Kazakhstan are straight and true, lined to immobile perfection. The women walk en vogue, their bangs slung forward as yet another asset in their myriad outfits, yet another way to distract Peace Corps volunteers from the job at hand. All but the wrinkliest of babushkas have decided that bangs are necessary. And I, likewise, find myself in slack-jawed agreement.
But where I would find a society without fault, it didn’t take long to realize that the bangs of Kazakhstan carry a double-edged sword. With a fashion-consciousness that most Americans – or at least those of the #Occupy protests – do without, the men of the Soviet sphere refused to let the women alone enjoy the perks of bang-dom.* As such, for every female you see in Zooey mimicry, a male follows not far behind, his forehead draped in similar fashion. Ethnicity is immaterial, as is age. Men who knew Stalin, boys who know SpongeBob – both will sport an inch (or more, in a few unfortunate cases) of starched hair, pointing straight down to their brow.
*That is the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written.
And that’s fine. Again, I couldn’t give three shits what kind of hair your sported, so long as you bathed regularly, and said thank you whenever I held the door for you.* But it’s just, on the guys … it’s not for me. It’s one thing to lay the feathered looks of Zac Efron and Justin Bieber – it’s another to take a fine-toothed comb and place Every Single Hair on a parallel plane directly toward your eyeball. It’s just not something I need in my life right now.
*Roza, if you’re reading this, remember to always thank someone in America when they hold the door for you. None of this stare-down-walk-past-because-apparently-the-door’s-magically-open crap. Don’t be грубый.
As it is, I don’t quite have the language faculty to get that idea across to the barber set around town. Their smiles disarm, and their prices – $2 for a haircut, plus a pair of free washes* – are low enough that I’d take a front mullet and be happy with it.
*This triples my weekly efforts at cleaning my scalp.
Which, in the half-dozen instances I’ve gotten a cut, I’ve done.
The first cut came some months back, tromping through the slush-mud to the only barber in Belbulak. As the scissors sheared their way across the top, I became lost in deciphering the nearby shampoo poster, wondering what both the Cyrillic and the product had to do with the topless woman eying us through her curls. Feeling the barber pause, I swung my gaze back to the mirror, and caught my reflection.
My pupils, meeting, swelled. My fingers curled round the armrest. My eyebrows jumped, losing themselves in the jungle of low-hung hair now mopping my forehead. I saw what I now was.
Bangs. Nothing but bangs, swishing across my forehead like unleashed rags in a carwash.
Before I could mouth a plea, before I could sputter anything in Russian to slow the process, the hairdresser pulled a white canister off of the table in front of us and, for a an added guarantee of you’re-gonna-love-your-new-look!, sprayed a layer of liquid plastic over the top. The mist fell slowly, like toxin from heaven. Suddenly, in lieu of the softness my weekly wash had just allowed, I was now sitting under a coat of plastic hair. Where my bangs once swished, they now hung erect. I looked equal parts Three Stooges, Jersey Guido, and Jim Carrey circa Dumb and Dumber. I looked like a frightened LEGO character.
In the five, six times I’ve gotten a haircut since, the process has not gotten any better. The reaction’s softened a bit – I’ve resigned myself to two years of these helmet-hard bangs – but that doesn’t make it any easier. After every cut I still end up walking home, praying for a spate of rain to wash the synthetic hold from my hair.* And while I’ve managed to waive the plastic sheet on a few occasions, that doesn’t make the bangs any less present, any more palatable.
*This actually happened once. Unfortunately, I overlooked the fact that bangs are the perfect path-holders, and rivulets of rain poured straight down, burning my eyes with all the fluoro-carbons a boy could ask for.
Of course, the palatability of those bangs – hanging like shredded, abused curtains – is entirely subjective. Walking through town after a fresh haircut, I find myself begin to blush, only to realize that the passersby pay no attention to the hair clinging to my forehead whatsoever. (Or, at least, the pay less mind to my hair than to the fact that my backpack has a small stain on shoulder-strap, which they find unbearably embarrassing for all parties involved.) I find myself under the same mat of hair that every other man, Russian and Kazakh alike, relishes. I find myself … fitting in.
Now, I’m not going to post any photos here, if only because WordPress is currently blocked in Kazakhstan, and the proxy site will not allow me to upload anything. But suffice it to say, I don’t yet have the self-confidence to share my bangs with the entire blogosphere. My forehead’s not been this covered since my high school days, when I wore a helmet of hirsuteness that ran from eyebrow to shoulder. Those are days that don’t need revisiting anytime soon. Nor does my current haircut need to waltz through the internet anytime, ever. And until the day comes that I share my haircut – which won’t be for a long, long while – I’ll spend my time walking around in my new rabbit-lined hat, and catching up on Zooey’s first season on TV. Because if I’m ever going to get used to these things, I’m going to need to see how she wears them. Suppose I should get back to Googling pictures of her now.