In this universe, I probably need a haircut.

I last cut my hair in my old bathroom, in my old apartment. I used my old scissors, which were blunt. I was trimming off rat-tails for days. That was two years ago, maybe three. I’d say I need a haircut.

In this universe, I’ll get to it when I get to it.

In this universe, my hair only interests me when I haven’t brushed it in weeks. When there’s a great, tangled mat at the nape of my neck, so hopeless it must be cut free. That happened once, when my shoulder dislocated itself in the night. It hurt to brush, so I didn’t, and a nest formed on my head.

Today, I tore the skin off my finger trying to open a jug of tomato juice. It never did open, and I got mad. I got hopping mad. I shouted “I want it” at the top of my lungs, and in the embarrassed silence that followed, I saw another universe.

In that universe, I doubt I need a haircut. I had one three months ago, before the lockdown hit, but now I want another. What I really want, what I must want—it’s the only thing that makes sense—is someone touching my hair. I want the intimacy of that sink-wash they do, warm fingers working my scalp. I want salon chit-chat, that half-heard conversation as I watch myself in the mirror, my new hairdo taking shape. I want that wet-hair-and-perms smell, that ouch when the comb clips my ear. That’s what I want, and in that universe, I’m screaming for it. I’m holding a protest sign. I’m out in the streets and I’m not wearing a mask, and I want what’s been taken from me, everything that’s rightfully mine, which is…everything I can’t imagine having here at home.

I say it’s about my rights. It’s not.

I say it’s about socialism, slippery slopes, society on the verge of collapse. It’s not about any of these things. I’m just needing things I’ve never needed, missing things I’ve never missed. Wanting what I can’t have, and how often do I hear no?

In this universe, no‘s the default. No, I can’t have tomato juice, or a housecall from a doctor. I can’t get my garbage taken out. Could someone bring up my mail? No—no, they couldn’t. It sucks to hear no. It sucks when you hear it every day. It must be a shock when it comes out of nowhere, forty years of yes, then all your nos in a oner.

Anyway, I wanted that tomato juice. That feeling when I didn’t get it—fury melting into shame—it’s been following me all day. I keep thinking how easy it would be to slip sideways into rage and never come back. To do it in public and double down to save my pride. I don’t think my friends would forgive me. I don’t think they’d see me the same again. I’ve always had that violent side, those flashes of hate that I can’t quite restrain…what if somebody saw?

There’s a world where I’m that jackass all my friends despise.

Maybe it’s for the best I can’t get out.

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