All this year, Evan4 has been growing his hair to get dreadlocks.
We thought he’d change his mind.
“How much will it cost?” he asked, after I said I wouldn’t pay for them to be done.
“$250,” I said. He worked in his Dad’s shop every fortnight and as his hair grew, so did his bank balance.
I booked the appointment the last time we were at the girls’ place getting the regrowth on David2’s dreads maintained. I booked it for the weekend before Christmas, and told Evan4 that Santa was bringing him dreads. (I couldn’t think of anything else he wanted, and Santa gave David2 his dreads 2 years ago, so it keeps it fair.)
We arrived at 2.30 yesterday afternoon. We found out that Evan4 at 14 is the youngest person they’ve worked on, so that was a bit of a buzz for him. Then they set to work.
Getting dreads made is really painful. He took a couple of painkillers before they got started, leaving one in reserve in case he needed one later.
One of the tools of the trade is a crochet hook. Evan4 wanted thin dreads, so his hair was sectioned of and then the first step with each dread is to crochet the hair and tangle it together.
This is when Evan4 started to realise that when David2 said that it really hurts…. it REALLY hurts.
Then the body of the dread is mashed together using the nails and scrubbing brush, while more dreads are being started on the other side of the head. This was about 20 minutes in. Evan4 was experiencing the dawning realisation that this was going to be a very long afternoon.
This was a little while later. Evan4’s hair is a different texture to David2’s… finer and silkier. When David2 has his dreads done, it took just under 4 hours to achieve.
David2’s pain threshold was obviously higher than Evan4’s. In desperation, he tried the tactic of distraction, using games on his ipod. We also put on a movie.
Around an hour in.
“What have I gotten myself into?”
As the hours wore on the pain became more intense. It was a test of his willpower to stay seated in the chair of torture as the girls attacked his hair.
Around 3.5 hours in, Catherine stopped and said, “I don’t feel right about continuing. We’ve had many people come through here but none of them have been in this much pain.”
Kim said, “I agree. I don’t want him to be traumatised.”
“I’m Ok,” said Evan4, looking up at them and then at me.
“You were writhing in agony just two seconds ago!” I said.
He looked uncertainly at us.
“I’m ok to keep going,” he said.
They offered him an alternative…. to cut away the hair on the lower half of his head and just have the dreads they’d already completed falling over the top. They showed him photos of people who’d chickened out and opted to have that style instead. Personally, I thought it looked awful. So did he. He chose to continue.
“But Evan4…. this is where you have to man up a bit,” I said. (Catherine and Kim looked a bit shocked.) “It can’t be comfortable to work on someone’s head when they’re gasping and groaning in pain. You’ve chosen to continue, so you have to dig deep and focus on the long term result. You’re going to have to hold the pain inside more than you’re doing right now. Can you do that?”
He nodded. And on it went.
For 5 hours.
That’s how long it took to do a full head of dreads on him.
Here’s when they were putting beeswax on the ends of his dreads to neaten them up.
“I’m not having you looking anything less than your best after all you’ve been through!” said Kim.
The final result!
In the car on the way home I had to wind the window down. He reeked.
“Did you put on deodorant?” I asked him.
“Yeah. Heaps,” he said. “But the sweat was pouring off me and my legs were shaking like mad.”
The human mind is a funny thing. Twenty minutes into the car ride and the memory of the pain was already beginning to fade a little for him. He dozed off, though he couldn’t really sleep for long because every time he leaned against the back of the car seat his dreads would hurt where they’d been manhandled into place.
I’m proud of him. I’ve never had dreads done so I don’t have personal experience about how much it hurts, but I know without a doubt that it would’ve been so easy for him to pull the plug and undo what they’d done, or even to take the undercut option, just to stop the pain. But he chose to think long term and finish what he set out to do, which I think is a great test of character.
He read on the internet that it’s easier to get to sleep wearing a beanie. (Imagine trying to put your head on the pillow when the dreads shriek in agony every time they’re moved?) Well, ok, they don’t literally shriek, but you know what I mean.
As I was writing this he got up.
Much happier this morning.
Wearing the beanie was a good idea because they’re already pointing groundward a lot more.
“Happy you had it done?” I asked after he read through what I’d written so far.
“Yeah! I hated my hair,” he said.
“In all fairness, if you’d had it cut it wouldn’t have gotten in the way so much,” I said.
‘No, I hated it then too,” he said.
He touched the dreads on the right side of hid head.
“These ones really hurt. The other ones are tolerable… like they still hurt but it’s ok. These ones are killing me.”
Then he ducked off to have a shower, coming out to get me to make sure that he’d tucked all the dreads under the shower cap. They can’t get wet for a month. Or is a fortnight? Anyway, for a long time.
One last thought…. doesn’t he look a lot like David2? In some of those shots I had to look twice…