The Weekend Shift: On the subject of tumble weaves

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Of the many distinctions that mark urban life, one of the most infinitely mysterious is the tumble weave. Looking so forlorn and discarded, you just gotta wonder about the circumstance that led to the fallen hair soldier that ends up laying in a stagnant puddle alongside floating cigarette butts and a baby doll leg.

Tumble weaves, for those who don’t know, are hair extensions, weaves or wigs that lose their host and end up along roads, sidewalks, and alleys. Upon spotting the ill-fated coiffure, a first reaction may be to think it’s a little dead animal, but it only takes a couple of moments to decipher that the disconcerting hairball is in fact, just a tumble weave. Sometimes they lay still, but sometimes — sometimes they ride the glorious wind.

Either way, poor tumble weaves always look so sad. They start out well-loved and sought-after, just to be abandoned like a prom night baby.

Besides, there’s a lot that goes into creating the perfect hairdo with hair that doesn’t even grow from one’s own head. Styles and applications of weaves include names like “bonding,” “tracking,” and “tree-braiding.” 

“Fusion” weaves can take 8 to 16 hours to put in, and cost $800 to $1,800. True, that’s probably some Beyonce shit, but it’s an option. There’s also “netting,” which can involve mildew growing on your head if you don’t dry your hair all the way, or “no braids no glue” — a method of hair weaving based on suspension bridge engineering. This stuff is no joke.

Which is why tumble weaves raise so many questions. How did that "hair," which was probably attached pretty securely, end up on the side of an off-ramp somewhere along I-275 South? Was there a nasty fight? Did it get snatched off? If so, did it happen in a car or did the weave tumble its way to this odd location? Or was it something benign like a clip-on that was acting up, prompting someone to throw it out of the window? There are many possibilities, but the weave ain’t talkin’.

Another possibility could be that some ladies were getting their party on in the car — dancing, singing, drumming beats on the dashboard — and a loose hair piece just blew out the sunroof. That seems unlikely, though. A girl who spent a lot of time and money on getting her hair done isn’t about a bunch of wind fuckin’ it up.

It’s hard to say for sure, but what is sure is that, much like hair that accumulates in the shower drain or the hair we find in our food, there is just something gross about hair, real or fake, once it leaves our heads. Tumble weaves are not dead rodents. But still, nobody wants to touch that shit.

So tumble along they will, evoking mysteries to lurk in the minds of all who encounter them. Godspeed, tumble weaves. Godspeed. 

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