I was first in the shower. I had to go first, my court appearance was that day, I just didn’t know what time. I didn’t want to take the chance that I might not be ready when a guard came for me. Instead of staying in my cell after my shower, I opted to watch TV with the rest of ‘A’ Block. Montel was on, and I found a spot on the floor next to a big black woman’s legs. As I combed my hair, her hand shot down next to my head and she snapped her fingers.
“Gimme your comb,” she ordered.
I turned around to see who the voice belonged to, but she was leaning back and she was so big, I couldn’t see her face. There were several black women on the block and I couldn’t identify which one of them was sitting behind me. “I’m using it,” I said, facing the TV again. I couldn’t just hand her my comb because she’d told me to. That’s no way to survive in jail.
“Gimme your comb!” She snapped her fingers again and then wiggled them. “I’m gonna do your hair.” Wait. No? What?! I was filled with alarm. The only other person on the planet who’d ever run a comb through my hair was my mother. Considering where I was and the size of this woman behind me, I thought it best to give her the comb and let her have at it.
“Just leave some of it in my head okay?” I said, handing her the comb.
Maybe half an hour had passed before a guard walked in looking for me. The woman doing my hair was not going to have time to finish. She’d put cornrows over half my head and had to stop. My hair was pulled back so tightly that I had to keep raising my eyebrows and wiggling my jaw to release the tension in front of my ears and on forehead. We didn’t even have a mirror I could use to adjust my new do before leaving with the guard. The best I could do was sweep it all to one side.
I was marched, cuffed and shackled, into the courtroom with half a head of cornrows.
~ ~ ~
The above is taken from my memoir, SATURATION.