The term “girlfriend” has been around for ages.
A “girlfriend” usually has only one of two meanings for people:
A good friend
A love interest.
But for African American women, a “girlfriend” is also a colloquial term used as a code name for a WIG.
A girlfriend is also a WIG.
And I loves me a really good girlfriend.
There are so many reasons.
The upkeep is simple. Wear them all day, and take them off and put them down somewhere at night. You don’t have to worry about sleeping wrong, and crushing your hairstyle or messing them up while working out or doing housework. There is no need to sleep with rollers or wake up early to do your hair. You just snatch it off the mannequin, pop it on your head, and go, leaving your own hair untouched, and without the damage that comes with heat and styling.
Have an engagement or special occasion, and can't get an appointment with your hairdresser?
A wig is the answer.
Then there is the versatility of being able to have different styles any day and time that you want, whenever, and however you want.
You are now the boss of your hair and your time. You literally can switch them out interchangeably with your mood and attire at your own desire and convenience. It’s a way to instantly change your look in 60 seconds. Some call it lazy.
I call it INNOVATION.
And this level of innovation can become addictive because of the ease and convenience it brings.
But it can backfire.
It has backfired more than once.
Thus this one time………
I was given a lot of grace and favor on my job. I’d been promoted a few times, and was now running our finance and HR responsibilities as the on property point person. It provided me a lot of peace and freedom to work alone, have an office to myself, and not have to answer to anyone on a daily basis.
But occasionally they’d send someone from corporate to come to our location to run financials, check on transactions, close the books for month, and enforce all the necessary checks and balances.
It was now Friday, and I'd had four days to work with the gentleman from corporate that showed up that Monday. He was tall, slender, later 50’s, all business, and white.
I need for you to remember that he was a white male.
I grabbed my keys around noon, and told him that I had errands to run for the job, and one, quick, personal stop to make before returning back to the office.
What I did not mention was that my one stop would be at The Secretary of State.
There is really nothing quick about the Secretary of State.
I wasn't lying.
I was trying to speak those things that be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17)
My license photo needed to be renewed. And though it was a really big gamble to use this short period of time to sneak to the Secretary of State, I was determined to try.
I’d planned for it and everything.
This was a new picture that I’d have for the next few years. I wanted this picture to look nice. So I did my makeup that morning, wore a nice blouse, and brought a “girlfriend” with me.
I packed a WIG.
I sped around finishing up my errands for the job, drove to the Secretary of State, sat in my car, touched up my makeup, and put on my wig.
I walked inside, snatched a number, and sat down anxiously watching the number counter on the wall. I knew that time was an issue. If I took too long, he’d question why I was gone so long. He was from corporate after all. I so wanted to keep a good impression with the higher-ups.
After some time, I was able to get things done, and found myself speeding down the street to get back to work. As I mentally calculated how long I’d been gone, it was a little past the timeframe that would not require an explanation.
I swerved down backroads, barely stopping at stop signs, and cutting through gas station parking lots, and office buildings, hitting speed bumps, sending my car aerial like The Dukes of Hazard.
I just needed to get there.
I pulled up to the hotel and ran into the building.
He was in a meeting in the office down the hall.
“Thank you Jesus!”, I said under my breath. (It’s funny how we thank God for helping us get away with nonsense.)
After his meeting he came into his portion of the office (divided by a wall), sat in his chair, and said: “Shaunee? Oh great! You’re back. I have a question.”
I heard him grab some papers, and push his office chair back.
As his feet approached, I looked up to hear him saying: “On the 15th…..there was a transaction for…..”
THEN HE STOPPED.
He stopped dead in his tracks, sentence, and everything in between.
He stood there looking at me with the most confused, and awe struck appearance you’d ever imagine.
He was genuinely confused.
He stared so hard that it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t know if he was getting ready to say something about my time away…or what! It was just some really thick, awkward air circulating in the office in that moment!
Then he finished his sentence…….
”……$300.00 at Home Depot. Um…..Did the Chief Engineer…..Um…..give you a purchase order?”
I spoke to him with the highest level of professionalism, checking my purchase order log, clicking my nails on the keyboard in the most efficient and authoritative manner, responding with such care and “happy to help-ness” oozing from my pores.
He thanked me. But he stood there staring with overwhelming confusion.
Finally he said:
“Something looks different. I can’t put my fing…er….on……Did you do something to your hair?”
I felt all the wind leave my body.
My skin grew hot, then ice cold.
I felt all of the liquid in my bladder rushing to my nether regions as heart palpitations boomed in my chest.
In my haste to get back in the office,
I’D FORGOTTEN TO TAKE THE WIG OFF.
I was mortified.
I need for you to understand something else…….
This wasn’t just any wig either.
This was a real show stopper.
It literally was a Diana Ross looking wig. It was big. It was commanding. It was noticeable. It was everything my other hairstyle was not. I’d gone into work that day with a slicked back bun with my natural black hair, left for lunch with a slicked back bun with my natural black hair, and came back with a brown lion’s mane.
There was no way to hide the magnitude of this change.
And the fact that he stood there trying to figure out what exactly could be different had me concerned that this man was running financials for our company. How could you be so confused? We pay you to be sharp Buckaroo!
But remember that I asked you to remember that he was white?
These type of context clues are critical to the information.
Anyone black would have known almost immediately what I’d done.
But most white people have to ask if it’s your hair. The common practice of putting on wigs, and running around with wigs and pieces of hair in your car is a foreign thing. He had no point of reference on how a woman could change her hair that fast. This is what made him utterly, completely, and entirely confused trying to figure out how on earth I’d left one way, and came back another.
As he stood there looking at me in amazement, my brain ran over a million ways that I could respond to him, none of which included me telling him
A.) That I’d gone (snuck) to the Secretary of State
B.) That I keep wigs in my car
C.) And that I put them on and take them off at random
His mind was not prepared to handle this type of truth about black women.
Bless his precious little heart.
The level of confusion on his face told me so.
I couldn't rock his world that way.
He just wasn't ready.
My only option was either to lie or to lie.
So there he stood waiting for an answer with deep silence in the room.
Before I could conjure up a good enough lie, my whit kicked in.
I looked at him, rubbed my wig, and said:
“YES. Yes I did!”
Nothing else but YES.
And funny thing is,
That answer was good enough for him.
He smiled and said:
“WOW! Okay, what a change!”
And he turned and walked away with his papers, intent to get back to his work.
Meanwhile, I added another rule to the Code of Conduct for Wig Wearers:
RULE 2B: “Sudden changes require a different audience and occasion to avoid unwanted attention.”
"Never again" I told myself.