The olive oil is hot in the pan. I peel cloves of garlic. I chop the cloves. The scent fills the kitchen, the living room, the dining room. My husband comes into the kitchen.
"Smells good. What's for lunch?" he asks.
"No idea," I reply. "This is for my hair."
I pour the hot oil and slightly browned cloves into a mug and walk out of the kitchen, right past my bewildered husband, and into the bathroom.
I abandoned my natural brown hair color in my teenage years and have never missed it. For a while, I bleached my hair — often adding strands of purple and pink into the mix of lightened golden locks. But a year ago, during a routine session of getting my hair highlighted, something changed. My hair became so damaged that it broke off in large clumps. Quite by accident, my hair suddenly resembled that of a 1970s tennis player. The damage was so severe that even the strands that had not broken were dried and fried.
I moved off the bleach. For a year, I slowly grew out the Billie Jean King hairstyle. This past Monday, when it was long enough for me to have most of the damage chopped off, I took to the salon chair. I requested long, sweeping bangs and a cute chin bob haircut, supplying pictures of Emma Stone. In retrospect, bringing in a picture of the actress who played Billie Jean King in a movie may not have been the best idea.
The result was not quite the King cut but something far less styled. My hair looks the way Dora the Explorer's would if it were trimmed by Boots, her pet monkey. My bangs are shorter than they would be if my 4-year-old had cut them. When my daughter saw me, she cried.
The beautiful thing about a healthy head of hair is that it grows. The main reason I cut so much of my hair off was that I wanted to return to that healthy head of hair. And because I don't want to have children everywhere offering me their backpacks, speaking to me in Spanish and chanting the words "Swiper, no swiping!" the sooner this hack job grows out the better.
I researched natural methods to stimulate hair growth and found something called the Nazarite method. The creator recommends a detoxifying and growth-stimulating soak in garlic-infused hot olive oil. Sure, why not? So this morning, with the fear of a talking map in the back of my mind, I got to cooking.
In the bathtub, I pour the oil over my head and rub it into my scalp. The image in my mind turns from one cartoon to another. Now, instead of Dora, I feel like Bugs Bunny, sitting in a cauldron over a fire as Elmer Fudd turns me into soup.
Not to be vain, but I smell delicious. I dream about cutting up carrots, onions and pepper and maybe adding some spinach. The 30-minute alarm dings, and I'm pulled from my reverie. Was I really just thinking of what a delicious stir-fry I would make? Yes, I'm afraid I was. There should be a warning on the Nazarite method saying to avoid the process while hungry.
I turn on the shower to wash off the oil and find that it does not want to wash off. I add scented shampoo yet am still coated. I still smell like what I imagine Sophia in "The Golden Girls" smelled like: garlic, heavy perfume and cynicism. I think about that time in high school when my friends dared me to eat a whole raw onion for $5 the morning of our homecoming dance. I earned the 5 bucks but then had to hide in the bathroom most of the evening after my armpits began emitting an onion smell on the dance floor. Am I going to smell like this forever? I commit to a few more washes with shampoo until I'm marginally positive that the smell is at least not overpowering — the kind of scent that might make people ask "What did you have for lunch?" rather than "Are you scared of vampires?"
Speaking of lunch, my hair may not grow, but my appetite has. I walk to the kitchen and begin chopping up carrots, onions and peppers. Maybe I'll add a little spinach.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.