The horror was real. My mind raced as fast as my heart, and my panting dried my mouth. I would not survive the two weeks. I needed a Goody slumber hair bonnet, the satiny kind that didn’t frizz my kinkies and kept my hair smooth between washings. I needed the extra-large size, ruffled at the elastic hem. I needed a replica of the bonnet I had forgotten at home in New Jersey, the one that’s the reason why my smart-ass husband B greets me into our bed every night with, “Ah, Little Boricua Bo-Peep, where’s your sheep?”
“Got Visa, will travel” is my mantra when I pack for travel. It controls my anxiety about forgetting something. Visa did me no fucking good as I stood in the hair accessory aisle of CVS in Orleans, Massachusetts: There were no bonnets among the foam hair rollers and bobby pins. Didn’t elderly white ladies on Cape Cod need to preserve the tuft of their sparse, pastel-tinted strands? I thought hair care gave us common ground: White or brown, ladies need to protect the time investment in their hair from the pillow.
There was a lone do-rag, hanging beside glitter head bands, but the skull cap that preserved short waves or cornrows would crush and frazzle my coarse curls. It reminded me to check the “ethnic” section of the hair care aisle, the few shelves that at a Jersey City CVS stock essentials like Queen Helene Cholesterol Hair Conditioning Cream and Hollywood Argan Oil. I scoured the aisle, then the whole store – twice – before I submitted to the realization there was no ethnic hair care aisle in CVS in Orleans.
I wrapped a very large scarf on my head, turban-like, that first night of our vacation on Cape Cod. As I approached the bed, B looked surprised.
“Ah, no Bo-Peep? Will you tell my fortune this evening?”
I carefully positioned my extra-large, encased hair on my pillow, turned off my light, and did not respond. I could foretell many things at that moment, none of which would send B into peaceful slumber.