8.20.2012

The Narrative Welcomes Huy Le

Blogger Huy Le has kindly donated some of his experiences to the Narrative.  In other words, he's given us his permission to repost some of his blogs.

He asked us to start with one of his older pieces:
An Asian Dude’s Experience with Black Culture, Episode 1: Hot Dang, it’s a Hot Comb!

Every once in a while, I realize my wife is Black. Which gave me the brilliant idea of doing a series of blog posts called “An Asian Dude’s Experience with Black Culture.” In this first post, we explore the hot comb, an instrument of torture that is also used to straighten hair.

Apparently there is a difference between Black and Asian hair. Asian hair, for example, tends to be straight, which makes it easy to be shaped into lethal points using gel, as you can see in many anime movies as well as on most Asian pop stars. Every year, hundreds of people are injured on subways and other crowded places by pointy Asian hair.

Black hair, I’ve learned, is a little trickier to maintain. Jameelah has naturally curly hair, but sometimes she likes to make it straight. There are many ways to do this. One way is to use chemicals, which come in boxes that you can buy at most stores and have helpful directions like the following:
  1. Wear thick protective gloves and goggles
  2. Apply to wet hair in a well-ventilated space not near open flame, animals, small children, pregnant women, or the elderly
  3. Smoking and searing pain in the scalp indicates product is working
  4. Use on a small patch of hair on less noticeable part of head first to make sure product does not cause baldness or cancer
“You’re going to help me straighten my hair,” said Jameelah one day. “OK,” I said, “I’ll go get the welding gloves and pliers.” She was offended. Apparently she never uses chemical straighteners, and I should know this, since we’ve been together four years, don’t I ever listen, what did she just say? It was too dangerous, so instead, we would use a hot comb, which is exactly like a regular comb, except it’s made out of metal and has a handle and you heat it up on a stove, then apply directly to a lock of hair, repeating the procedure until all the locks are either straight or burned off.

We stood in the kitchen in front of the stove. “Be careful your fingers touch only the handle,” Jameelah warned, “or you might get third-degree burns.” She demonstrated, taking the comb off the glowing red eye of the stove and applying it directly to a lock of hair. It hissed on contact, releasing a wisp of smoke and the floral fragrance from the shampoo.

“See, nothing to it,” she said, “now you try.” Jameelah could do this in her sleep, but she couldn’t see the back of her head, which was where I came in. For the next half hour, I grappled with the instrument. I was so nervous, my hands trembled the whole time. However, Jameelah was very patient, giving helpful feedback like “Ow!” and “Aargh!” After a few minutes, I started getting the hang of it. The trick is to be fast and confident, because if you go fast, the comb doesn’t have time to burn the scalp! Another trick is avoid touching the comb to eyeballs.

Finally, we were done, and Jameelah’s hair was straight, and we only suffered a couple of minor burns. I was glad. “You get a punch on your Black card,” she said, beaming. She gave me this theoretical card when we first got together, and I’ve been racking up “punches” these last four years, the last time for knowing and correctly singing the theme song to the show “Living Single.” (“We are living/single/oh in a 90’s kind of world/I’m glad I got my girls”). I also lost a credit once by saying, “You’re making grits? Awesome! Can you make me one?” I don’t know what the card gets me. I think it’s like a smoothie card. For every ten punches on the card, I think I get a cool new dance move. Not sure. Jameelah will check with the Council.

“I think this deserves TWO punches,” I said. I’m just three credits away from being able to “drop it low.”
See Also

An Asian Dude’s Experience with Black Culture, Episode 2: A Little Bit of Racism can be Fun!
Asian Dude’s Experience with Black Culture, Episode 3: Collard Greens and High-Fives

24 comments:

  1. Longtime lurker here, first comment. This was a funny entry. My longtime boyfriend actually applies relaxer cream to my hair. I've never been really good at doing stuff to my own hair, and going to the hair salon is just too expensive sometimes, so a couple of years ago, I had my boyfriend watch a couple of tutorials on YouTube about how to apply a relaxer, and then asked him if he felt like he could do it. He said that he would give it a try, so I had him apply it, and it came out really good, so from that point on, with the exception of a couple of times when I went to the hair salon, he's been the one to give me a relaxer.

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    1. There is a married couple on youtube and she said he used to help her put weave in her hair.

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    2. Yes, I remember seeing that couple of YouTube. I guess it really isn't that uncommon for men to help women with their hair.

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  2. Hee-Hee. What a funny and educational story.

    I admit, I started to get perms because I got sick and tired of being burned by those straightening combs,though it's better for your hair. My grandmother has been getting her hair pressed for ages. She has coarse hair,but now her hair texture is to a point that it's acts like a perm. Like Huy, I was scared of using one on another persons hair out of fear that I would burn all of their hair off.I sympathize with Huy on that concern.





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  3. LOL this was cute. I don't think I would have my boyfriend doing my hair unless, of course, he offers to do it. It's kinda emasculating in my opinion. He shouldn't be your personal stylist on a regular basis. Hahaha I hope he keeps tabs on her with an "asian card".

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    1. I was wondering about that. Does she have an Asian card? And what does she have to do to get punches in it?

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  4. The comment above is Lana22 btw

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  5. Nice post. Very funny and sweet.

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  6. I'm quite surprised to read about men who do this stuff for their girlfriends/wives.

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    1. Yeah I'm "tender headed" as they say so I can't have just anyone messing with my hair because it will hurt.

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  7. This was very cute and funny.

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  8. Replies
    1. He really is. When you read more of his posts, you notice how awesome his writing is.

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  9. That was sweet and he's hilarious! Even though some men might not want to help with their wife's hair, Huy obviously doesn't mind so it's all good.

    I love reading about happy blasian marriages!!!!

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  10. That doesn't beat what my dad did with my hair. When I was a little girl going to preK. My mom had to go to work early one day. She asked my father if he could dress me and do my hair. He said fine no problem. Now he is a west indian man who used to have jerry curls. My mother was sure he could handle my hair type.

    Man was she wrong. He end up breaking a comb because he didn't know how to detangle my hair right. He couldn't even put my hair in a bun right. At the end of it all my daycare teacher fixed my hair. Because she couldn't bare the horror. She told my mother and they both laugh. My mother told my father never again is he to touch my hair.

    Sometimes dad's suck at doing their own kids hair too

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    1. Our experiences are really different when it comes to this. I also come from a West Indian family, and my father was great at doing both my hair and my sister's hair. He would detangle the hair and brush it, and then style it into a couple of braids. He did this on many occasions, and it was just a normal aspect of growing up in my household. My father definitely had a domestic side to him. He didn't mind cooking, cleaning, tending to the kids, etc. Aaah the memories.

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  11. anonymous J

    This post is where I fell in love with Huy Le's blog. His account brought back some fond memories of a couple of similar cross cultural experiences. I've had a few male friends who were able to do my hair for me. They had not had any exposure to anything outside of the culture they grew up in, but were quite adept with managing my hair.

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    1. He's an extraordinary writer. Very clever and observant. And his humor is something else.

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  12. This is hilarious! I'm loving these already. Keep em coming :-)

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  13. This was funny and I'm envious that I've never had a chance to experience such an event. Mr. Hateza hasn't even discovered that I am indeed Black. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I'm only a card-carrying a member of, "You women..." *seriously envious* :D

    Welcome to the Blasian Narrative Huy Le!!!

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