[The #FF0000 Book]: The Matter of Side Parts
one millennial's NIGHTMMARE!!!!!
O-M-G Mea Culpa!!!!
So I didn’t know until yesterday that side parts are very embarrassing, very millennial, a signifier of all things lame in this world. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Gen-Z has been cyberbullying millennials on TikTok and Twitter for wearing skinny jeans and side parting our hair. While I knew that skinny jeans were out, I had absolutely no idea that side parts were just as bad?? To think that I’ve been padding around my apartment, eating hard-boiled eggs over the kitchen sink, youtubing the Tracy Anderson Method with a hot pink 3lb dumbbell in each hand for the past YEAR with a heinous side part scraped over my millennial head!! Horrifying! Want to Die! And I’m only recounting 1/30th of my life with a side part; the other 29/30ths are simply too much to bear, for now (but stay tuned, subscribe!).
The most painful part about the parts, however, isn’t the realization that I looked out of touch and dated to an entire generation, but the fact that I couldn’t discern for myself the crucial difference between the two—that one is cute, relevant, and modern while the other is utterly contemptible, the follicular equivalent of skinny jeans. That I needed the internet to admonish me as if I were a Central Valley dad ambushed on Queer Eye, so helplessly blind to need a cadre of (millennial) gay men dressed like real estate agents to inform them that time’s up on the cargo shorts and tube socks, is surely the signal of my demise. That’s when you know you’re falling out of touch, when your brain can no longer parse the ethnographic symbology of fashion trends, no longer find its way across that vast and flaky1 expanse dividing one generation from the next. *dramatically types away at MacBook* Was that me, Adri?
As soon as I caught wind of this very important news, I went straight to my bathroom and drew a middle part down my scalp, half expecting a newer, fresher me to materialize in the medicine cabinet mirror. Of course this didn’t happen, to neither my nor my tulpa’s surprise. I’ve tried parting my hair down the middle thousands of times before in my young life and it never looked quite right. I did think that maybe this time would be different, armed as I was with the new eyes of zoomer vision, but it wasn’t really. I mean, it looked fine? Mostly it just wasn’t as flattering, as it never was, and that’s the only reason I don’t partake rather than out of some misguided allegiance to asymmetry. My side part is purely functional: it gives my hair volume where I need it on my somewhat unfortunately shaped head, flat and wide such that it needs a big dose of verticality for balance. A middle part only amplifies the imbalance, inflating the sides and flattening the top, imparting a doll-like look more Cabbage Patch than Bratz (that would be OK, as that is very Gen-Z). I would prefer the option of variety over partiality, but my cephalic structure and 2B curl pattern doth protest. I simply have no choice in the matter. LIFE is not FAIR. I wasn’t born with a Balanchine head (small, delicate, beautifully rounded at the crown, favored by the problematic modernist choreographer) and it is not in my best interest to pull my hair back from a sleek middle part into the sort of tight, low pony that everyone was wearing with puffy gold hoop earrings a few years ago. It’s just another one of life’s small losses *for which I’m grateful, very grateful, so grateful, so full of gratitude I am for that which made me stronger, Charcuterie 10:4.*
Complicating the matter, however, is that my friend Simon, a younger millennial, responded to my frantic Instagram story to assure me that what I wear isn’t actually a side part. “If you can’t see the part all the way to the back, is it even a side part?” they asked. Omg. If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it even make a sound? They were onto something. While I flop most of my hair over to one side (usually the left—like Mariah Carey, I have a good side and that is my right side), there is no clear demarcation, no visible line from front to back which splits the head in two. It’s all very tousled, very um, “French” ok??
Anyway, so now I apparently don’t have a part at all. How blind am I? Clearly I can’t see the forest for the trees, or use arboreal platitudes correctly (earth is the least represented element in my chart) for that matter, but at this point the matter becomes immaterial, the question one of essentialism: what makes the side part a side part? What are its essential features and must they all be fulfilled in order to be that which it’s named? Is a hot dog a sandwich, cereal a soup? Was I safe after all?? I suppose that depends on whether you think the tree made a sound.
Your homework is to ponder these lines from “Birches” by Robert Frost:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
Suspiria trees. So metal!
Until next week’s embarrassment,
P.s. Thank you to everyone who subscribed! I will remember each and every one of you should the time come when I have to choose who lives and who
I saw a TikTok where a woman mixes a small spoonful of coconut oil into her shampoo each time she washes her hair. I’ve been doing this ever since, but with almond oil, and my hair loves it. Try it if you have dry hair!