What Does An American Look Like?

US flagI guess that I don’t look all that American to Americans. On my second day here in Abu Dhabi I was waiting in the lobby of my residence building with a couple dozen teachers who are in my program. I wasn’t feeling particularly social, so I sat alone on the side of the lobby. Regardless, the lobby was densely packed and one couldn’t avoid being more than a couple feet away from another person. I think anyone who entered and observed the language and demeanor of the people would assume that all in the lobby were part of the same group: Americans.

At this point, I’ve previously spoken to a few of my new colleagues, but I hadn’t met everyone. As I sat there, a group of four women in the program stepped out of the elevator and began making their rounds greeting all the teachers in the lobby. Interestingly, I was excluded from these kind formalities.

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Feeling The Breeze: Dreadless

After nine years of growing dreadlocks, I’m back to where I started: bald. I’ve been contemplating cutting them for a few months now, but never seriously thought I was quite ready to let them go.

The locks became such a big part of who I was as a person, despite the fact that wasn’t something I considered when I first started to grow them. My original intent was to let my hair grow naturally, without any impedance from a comb. I wanted to see what hair looked like when original man roamed the planet. Also, I knew my hairline was moving back fast and I thought I might as well grow my hair long, while I still had it…and I did!

Back in 2000 I rocked a shaved head and let the hair grow. Slowly, but surely, the curls started to grow and I had a mini-unkempt afro. I liked the look of the nappy fro. It was bit wild in style, but easy to manage. As the first year ended, the naps started to lock up. I had small dreads that pointed straight to the sideshow bobsky, as if the force of gravity was more like the farce of gravity. This is when people started calling me Bob. Not Marley, but Sideshow. Yep, Sideshow Bob, the evil genius character on The Simpsons whose red, poofy locks defied gravity’s pull towards the Earth. I thought this was a bit of an amusing nickname, and I heard it for a good two years before my locks dropped.

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I’m Not Bob Marley!

I can’t go more than two weeks without having some random stranger on the street singing a line from a Bob Marley song to me. Sometimes I’ll just get a, “Hey, Bob!”

I love Marley! I enjoy listening to his music and he’s greatly influenced me, but I’ve gotten tired of all the look-a-like comments from fools on the street.

Seriously, why are people compelled to do this?

Yes, I have dreadlocks and some defined facial features, but we do not lookbob-marley the same.

I’ve had my locks for almost eight years now and for most of that time I lived in Washington, DC. Over there, many men and women from various walks of life have dreads. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. You can’t go a day in the District of Columbia without seeing at least a dozen people with locks and I’ve never had anyone call me Bob in DC. Thank goodness!

About a year and a half ago I moved to Orange County, California.

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