One day an older man came into the burger restaurant where I used to work sporting the worst comb-over I have ever seen.
“That is the worst comb-over I have ever seen,” I thought, impressed. His white hair cascaded unapologetically over his bald dome as he shuffled in. It was late afternoon and the restaurant was completely empty, except for him and two or three of us bored employees.
I don’t remember most of what he talked about, but I do remember that he was old, very happy, and very odd.
At this restaurant, there was a bar beside the cash register where you could sit down and eat. I leaned on the bar while he sat on the other side, enthusiastically talking to the waitress beside me.
Eventually we made eye contact, and I was trapped. He slid over to me and started talking. Like I said, I don’t remember much of what he said. I probably blocked it out.
A side note: For a few years now, I’ve had some type of eczema on my right elbow, and back then it was pretty bad. It looked like I had taken steel wool and just rubbed the crap out of it. Kind of gross, but it’s important to the story – trust me.
Anyway, my new best friend Comb-over Guy suddenly interrupted his commentary to latch onto my arm and rub it sympathetically.
“What happened here?” He asked, looking very concerned.
“Oh, it’s just eczema,” I said, a little embarrassed.
“What?” he said, leaning his ancient head down so he could hear.
“It’s just dry,” I said louder.
I don’t think he heard me. He was too entranced by my arm. He stared at it as he continued to stroke it. It was actually kind of soothing. But mostly creepy.
And here is the kicker, folks. The one thing he said that I remember far too well.
“Oh!” He exclaimed. “You have the most beautiful hair!”
What would you say if someone complimented your luscious mane of arm hair? I mean, this guy was clearly an expert on great hair, so I had no choice but to be incredibly honored.
“Thank you,” I said, placing that gem somewhere very safe in my mind.
When I told my family about it at dinner, I was laughing so hard that it literally took me ten minutes to finish. It made my ribs ache with joy.
I think we can learn an important lesson from this. It doesn’t matter who you are – your age, your income, your skin color, your gender. We can all say something really weird to freak out a stranger and give him or her a good story to tell later.
I never saw Comb-over Guy again. But whenever I feel insecure, as we all do at times, I comfort myself with the knowledge that if nothing else, I have beautiful arm hair.