Bizarro is brought to you today by Rapunzel's Grandson.
I miss the afro. In 1975, when I was up to my eyeballs in high school, afros were the rage for all blacks and the small handful of whites who could pull it off. Having naturally very curly hair, I was one of those lucky crackers who could rock the 'fro.
I remember having a crush on a black girl at school who was a year older (so I had no chance with her) and had a giant afro. She was beautiful and probably had the personality of an angel. I don't know for sure, because the only time I ever spoke to her was when she asked to touch my 'fro, and not much was said.
"Can I touch yo' 'fro?"
"Ooh, it so sof'."
This was a common request for black girls at my school and I was always more than happy to comply. As a kid who was too shy to talk to girls he was attracted to, my hair was like carrying a puppy around and waiting for women to go nuts over it.
Oddly enough, I owed their compulsion to touch my hair on the very thing our school was sworn to combat – racism. At that time, the early seventies, Tulsa was still a very segregated community, with the blacks all living and shopping on the north side of town, and the whites on the south. It was the era of court-ordered busing, and in order to fend off the courts, Tulsa opted for a voluntarily integrated magnet school program. My alma mater, Booker T. Washington High School (GO HORNETS!) was among the first such schools in the country and I was among the first class of whites to attend there when it opened.
I say that I owed my luck with black chicks to racism because the reason they were compelled to touch my hair was because most had never seen a white person with an afro and none had ever touched one. They were amazed at how soft my hair was, African-American hair is typically much drier and more bristly. The term "afro" is short for African, of course, so it was a misnomer to call mine that. I should have called it an "italo," since my Italian heritage gives me the curls, or at the very least a "euro," which was still more than a decade away from being a monetary unit.
My hairline is too compromised to raise a good "italo" now, the most I would get is one of those bushy-on-the-sides, fuzzy on top things like Art Garfunkel used to wear. A "garfo."
So here's to the afro. I'd love it if Obama brought one back to the first head and wore this T-shirt to press conferences.