I have been in need of a good quality hairbrush for some time. My hair likes to gather together in lumps and locks which refuse to let go of one another. I am at times subjected to the most excruciating pain when combing my hair. Often I avoid this task, letting my hair have the freedom to form whatever shape it wishes. I was told that if I purchased a better quality hairbrush, the pain would not be so great when brushing my hair.
My parents invited me to go with them to view a possible home that they were considering for purchase. It was a large home, still decorated by the current owners modern furniture. There were sputnik lights all over the ceilings and Andy Warhol rugs covering the heated hardwood floors. There were all kinds of bookcases and credenzas filled with books on art and artists along with numerous antique objects. Whom ever the owners of the home were, they obviously had not only much more money than myself but also a collection of culture that very few people could compete with.
The home was a celebration of modernism and the rewards of financial success. It was designed by the innovative architect Alvar Aalto– and was a complete reaction to the dull aesthetic of box homes built for form and function. This home had winding staircases, spiraling hallways and domed ceilings. The real estate agent led us from room to room describing the home with his refined English accent and educated explanations. I could smell the rank scent of alcohol on his breath when he laughed.
My father and mother were pensive. The real estate agent did what he could to paint a picture of the home that no man/woman could resist. I became bored with his pragmatic descriptions and asked which bathroom I could use. Down this hall, around that corner and through some door I traveled until I reached a bathroom that was surrounded with mirrors and heated by radiant heat. The sinks were made of gold and the toilet was marble and had an electronic device that flushed the toilet and activated a fan with a cedar scent. It was at that moment that I realized my parents pensiveness was the result of a realization that there was no way they could afford the house.
I pulled up my pants and proceeded to wash my hands. By chance I opened one of the bathroom doors for no reason at all and inside I found a large black hairbrush. The bristles were made of sheep’s tail and the rest of the brush was made out of ivory. On the handle of the brush was an engraving which said Holmes Hairbrushes For Men, London, Since 1886. When I brushed my hair with it, there was a tingly, almost ecstatic feeling on my scalp. This was the nicest brush I had ever come across. I had to have it.
Fortunately I was wearing a thick coat and had little guilt about stealing from rich people. I stuck the brush in the inside pocket of my coat, washed my hands again and made my way back out to where my parents and the agent were gathered.
“How did you like the bathroom?” the agent gregariously said to me expecting a fascinated response. “Quit an experience,” I replied with a slight cynical smile. My mother then told me that they were just talking about the owner of the home. “Yes, he invented teeth whitening,” the agent said with a contrived look of pride in his eyes. My parents were impressed but all I could do was think “oh, well that explains all the ostentatious wealth.” I then heard my father release gas when the agent said “I talked to the owner today who said that they would be willing to sell the home for $3.4 million.”
I had lunch with my parents afterwards. My father kept bemoaning the self declared fact that he had worked hard all his life and that he deserved to live in whatever kind of home he wanted. My mother tried to be sensible and tell him that he could live in whatever home he wanted as long as it was less expensive. “You guys are too old to go into debt,” was all I could add. “Son, I have enough money to afford that home if I wanted to,” my father said with a hint of frustration in his voice. It was like he was trying to convince himself of something that he knew to be untrue.” Okay dad, you can have your dream home, fill it with all the debt you want,” I remember thinking to myself.
At home, I stood in my freezing cold bathroom (my house is without heat) and brushed my hair for at least an hour. Every frustrated lock in my hair came undone. My scalp was tingling with such joy that I can swear that my hair grew an inch. I rubbed the bristles of the brush against my face and under my chin. I basically took a head bath in that wonderful brush. I then spent a few hours reading One Hundred Years Of Solitude until my wife came home from her night shift. She noticed the beautiful hairbrush on the counter in our bathroom. She asked about it and I could not tell a lie. I may be a thief but I am not a liar.
“You stole this!! What kind of man of integrity are you!!! You want me to have your children!!!! Just last evening you were talking about the virtues of honesty and respect. How could you violate another’s property, no matter how rich they may be? You are 36 years old and do not need to steal other men’s hairbrushes. Get a job and buy your own!!!!” She went on and on until I started to feel a tightness in my chest. Had my small act of theft compromised my integrity? We both have been struggling to make ends meet and the last thing I could afford to loose was my integrity. “Beside,” my wife said, “don’t you know that using another man’s hairbrush could make your hair fall out?” I then looked down at the book I had been reading and noticed a smile pile of hair that had collected upon the page. “You have to return that brush,” my wife said.
My wife packed the brush in a brown paper lunch bag. On the outside of the bag in black pen I wrote I borrowed your hairbrush for a few hours. I did not leave my name. Instead I just wrote the hairbrush and the thief. I drove my car up into the hills where million dollar homes lined the sky line. After a long search I found the Teeth Whitener’s home illuminated with blue and white lights. I pulled up beside the mailbox, rolled my squeaky window down and reluctantly placed the package inside. I could smell the cold midnight air. The air always seems cleaner to me in the neighborhoods where rich people live. It’s almost as if the abundance of money filters out all the pollutants. I took a few deep breaths and looked at the panoramic view of the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Fransisco all lit up in the full moon night. As I put my car into second gear and began my descent back to the lower income neighborhood in which I reside, I noticed that my scalp was beginning to itch.