Scarlett Sumac's Blog

MARCH 18, 2012 11:22AM

Frizzy-haired Chicks in Plaid

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I should have known better. You see, I deliberately left my black leather jacket at home. Since I was travelling with my daughter I chose to look more respectable. Truth is, the jacket is pretty classy though whenever I wore it, someone inevitably felt free with the, "Where's the Harley?” comment. 

I'm pretty soft underneath this armour but people stereotyped me as tough or assumed I had a bad attitude. And I wasn't even sneering at them. Must be some lingering shadows from my "Fuck You" days. (Referring specifically to Ms. Hynde’s perfect Rule #6 in above link). But I digress.

Even though we were going to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, I gladly forfeited the rocker chick look. Besides these days, I prefer a more understated approach to fashion and decided to travel south of the border a little more “Canadiana” style. Which is precisely why I chose my plaid jacket. I’m not talking the standard lumberjack issue but a nice tailored number with a belted waist but plaid nonetheless. 

When we left the house for Ohio, my daughter Angelica strolled down the staircase in a purple hoodie. Four hours later we arrived in Cleveland where it was unseasonably warm, she removed her hoodie to reveal a plaid shirt underneath. There we were, laughing about our mutual wardrobe: mad about plaid together. “Neil Young would be proud,” I said.

Now, dear reader, before you drift away thinking this is a grunge haute couture column, I'm sharing these fashion notes because they come into play later when we depart for home.

So fast forwarding ...

A nearby taxi idles reveberating with the unmistakeable driving bass, drums and scratchy guitar of Golden Earring's Radar Love. I flag the cab half-shouting that we need to get to the station to catch the 1'oclock bus. This chaffeur ride seems like the perfect way to kiss Cleveland goodbye. I've never had the pleasure of zipping through the streets with a cabbie blasting his radio near full volume before. Considering we had just seen the Women Who Rock exhibit, leaving "the city that rocks" hearing, Brenda Lee's comin' on strong” seems apropos.         

But the adrenaline rush from the cab drive dissipated soon after we arrived at the bus station. Our departure time came and went while we waited to shuffle off to Buffalo. Bored with the delay, Angelica went off to peruse a U. S. map on the wall while I held our place in line. It was a smart move too since the gigantic man behind us in line seemed to be looking for an audience. He started talking to me but my social radar is finely tuned to avoid assholes so I pretended to be reading my (turned off) cell phone. 

In a loud voice he continued to spout gibberish to anyone who would listen. In this case it was the poor sod behind him. As he grumbled, his one-way conversation went something like this:

I’m tired and the Goddamn bus is late. When I get home nobody better bug me. First thing I’m gonna do when I get in that door is put on my tape of the barking pit bull. Then I’m putting my earplugs in and going down to the basement. If anyone rings the goddamn doorbell and wakes me up, they’ll be greeted by a big motherfucker like me staring down the barrel of an 8 gauge shot gun. You ever looked up the barrel of an 8 gauge shot gun? That damn thing’s pretty big.


In the meantime I noticed a short man walking towards the line. He was wearing a dark blue uniform and had a shiny badge on his chest. In my experience, unless there is a problem, it’s rare to see police in Canadian bus stations. But this is America folks.

While I have 20/20 vision up close, I’m myopic and can't see clearly at a distance. I'm curious if this guy is a cop or not, but to put my glasses on and size him up, seems too obvious. Still I’m thinking … they’re not boarding anyone on the bus; maybe there is a problem. My mind starts to race. While squinting in his direction, I was approached from the right by a burly woman who was putting on platic gloves. She rolled a cart up in front of me and asks me to drop my bags on it for a security check. I said, “Really?”

She said, “Yes Ma’am, really.”

She rifled through my backpack and found nothing of interest. Then she inspected my purse.

“All you’ll find is my wallet, pen, papers, some cosmetics and a few other feminine items.”

She was not amused at my banter. Then she called my daughter over to go through her backpack and laptop bag. I was not amused. 

Finding nothing the woman she rolled her cart and moved on. I expected her to go to other people in the line and check their bags. It didn’t happen. I whispered to my girl,  “Why do you think she only checked us?”

She said, “Maybe it’s standard procedure here to check carry-on bags. Maybe everyone else is putting their luggage under the bus."

I looked around as we finally boarded the bus and saw many had over the shoulder bags and backpacks. 

Hmm… I continued to roll this scenario over and question what made us - instead of the lunatic behind us - stand out as some perceived threat. Then Angelica said, “I know … it’s our frizzy hair!"

It was true, the morning of our departure we skipped our regular grooming activities so we’d have more time to explore the city. We never even cracked the lid on the Crabtree & Evelyn Shampoo and Conditioner from the Hotel bathroom.

Yes, we had left without subduing or straightening our locks. Surely this was the reason we exuded a wild, devil-may-care, frizzy-haired, rebellious and dangerous attitude.

She said, “Think about it Mum …when Security approached you I was scanning the map plotting our next undercover attack. They blew our cover. We had the perfect camouflage: a frizzy-haired, plaid wearing, mother-daughter terrorist tag team?”

Next time, I’m wearing my leather jacket.


© Scarlett Sumac 2012


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Those people are trained to spot a badass no matter the disguise. Fun story.
Thanks Frosty. Love your name.
OMG, terrorists in plaid with frizzy hair! What a great story.
(when I went through security at O'Hare last month, they confiscated my hair conditioner. good thing I had smooth hair going through, or I'd have been detained for sure.) ~r
That could have gone badly, but so glad it didn't!
Navy SEALs use that frizzy-headed plaid look whenever they want to blend in with a hostile native populace.
Yes, this is the last in my Ohio trilogy. On to other things soon, I just couldn't move on without getting this out of my system. :)

Joan, Be careful with that hair conditioner -- you can squirt it in people's eyes. Oh forget it, ... that's pepper spray! xo
You've hit full stride, this stuff is dripping off your fingers like a guitar master's filler notes. Saving the day by keeping the buses to Buffalo safe - that'll stop them terrorists.
Fun post. I don't know about buses, but if you ever want attention in an airport, buy your ticket with cash. I made the mistake of doing that a couple years back just because I happened to pass a travel agent and had cash on me. I ended up getting pulled out of every line available.
ah, another great security ruse! i pointed out to mr. forte the news piece the other day - infants and really old people will no longer be scrutinized so carefully at airport security lines (old guys won't have to take off their shoes and jackets). so we're going to put an ad in craigslist and hire the old guy out to carry contraband. for a very substantial fee, of course. (**just kidding** - all you wackos out there)

great story, scarlett. i suggest next time you add biker boots, skull decal/tats, lots of eyeliner and a giant tote bag. :)
They just knew you didn't look like a local And they were too scared of the guy behind you. Seriously though, I wonder what their rationale was?
plaid posse
tough to deny
particularly with the mother/daughter multiplicitive effect
Could be worse... you could be Iranian... my boss and I flew back from China and standing in line at US Customs he whispered, " Watch, they're going to inspect my bags."
Sure enough, the white dude at the desk checked out my boss' passport and said, "We'll have to look at your luggage."
I laughed and shook my head, which brought a question from the white dude, "What's so funny?"
"My boss was right when he said you'd inspect his bags," I replied.
"Oh," said the customs guy, "You're with him... we'll have to look at yours as well."
This happens in 2 out of 3 bus stops now. The worst is Denver Colorado or is it Salt Lake City. I cannot understand if you have been travelling on a bus for 3 days why they continue.
But maybe it was your hair..:)
If you took down that (admittedly lovely) avatar
and put back your picture,
of your far lovelier mug, then just maybe
we could better picture you with frizzy hair...

I personally cannot think of anything more intense and terrifying
than an intelligent attractive
intriguingly foreign
woman with
wild hair and a 'fuck you' attitude
(those never really
go away).
Although you say: it was a burly woman who ransacked your
luggage. Hm. Perhaps an unconscious jealousy/resentment
issue. Or..
maybe you could pass for a fair-skinned Middle Easterner.
Again: we will need a picture in the avatar space to
determine this.

If i had been a security type person , I would have
inspected yr bags just out of sheer curiousity, ha!

I wonder: does anyone ever actually ask:
"Uh,excuse me, officer, may I ask, why did you decide to inspect my stuff?"
WHAT!!?? No pictures?

Funny -- if moderately alarming -- story, SS.
How bizarre is that? I wonder why they didn't check the gun welding idiot behind you...I'm just glad you had fun!
... got scared when that burly lady pulled on rubber gloves...with all that plaid...maybe she thought you were smuggling chameleons...
My lord, after lunch today we took a quick jaunt "over the river" and got caught up in Buffalo's St. Paddy's Day celebrations! A lot of green people with green beer. Who'd have thought they'd have the parade the day after?

Asia: Yes, we're the lucky ones. At least it provided some fodder for a story ...

Con: The SEALS stole that fairly specific camouflage frizzy plaid look from me ... we had a meeting.

Damon: The frenzied Radar Love taxi ride to the bus station was a high point that day. Thanks for tuning in.

jlsathre Cash?! How subversive. Good thing it wasn't them Canadian dollars!! :)

Candace: Yes! Children and the elderly as contraband carriers sounds like a lucrative business idea. Shhh, don't tell anyone. Throw in a few frazzled mother-daughter tag teams just to mix things up a bit. And **for sure** the heavy eyeliner (Amy Winehouse style) is a must next time. ;)

Abra: You've met me. So you know my threat potential. I think they caught the "vibe." I mean, I'll due my due diligence for bi-national safety ... but me and my kid, the only ones? And not the psycho behind us ??

Catch-22: Plaid posse. I like that. Truth is with Spring coming, I'll be retiring the plaid till the Fall. I'm going floral next! :)

jmac: Oh, I know it be could be way worse. Hence the comment in my tag, for many it's not funny at all. I'm aware of my privilege here to be able to make light. As I mentioned previously , we were the only one in a whole bus load that got checked. It was curious ...

Linda: Of course the hair was joke as was the plaid. Hey, we [us Canucks] know about crimes on Greyhounds, eh? Remember the gruesome beheading/cannabalism incident near Manitoba. Talk about psycho!!

James: You know this avatar was my first and I'm partial to it and the mask it allows. Plus, she's a little piratey, don't cha think? And you're right the FU attitude never completely goes away. Why, I can summon here up in a second. Thankfully. :)

BO: This trip was more relegated to memories than pics. The girl has some photos on her cell phone, I think. None inside the bus station...that's for sure. Sorry, you'll have to use your imagination which I'm sure is a vivid one. :)

Lunch Lady: My thoughts exactly. I was hoping his gun was safely kept at home and not in his luggage. He was a brute!

J.P: I know, those rubber gloves were a bit disconcerting. If only I was smuggling fruit, maybe an orange or a greasy peeled banana, the gloves may have come in handy. I chalk this up to an identity experiment. I'm planning my outfit for the next trip. :)
Fun post on a not so fun subject Scarlett.
My bet is that matching plaid.
A mother/daughter tag team.
Thanks for the smile I'm wearing now dear.
Are you sure it was the frizzy hair, Scarlett. Couldn't what happened be because Canadians' heads split open when they talk like they do on South Park? Your heads do split in half horizontally when you talk, right? JK! Sorry you had that experience but now you've got me thinking about the World Series of Rock concerts I attended when I was growing up there. I wish you'd posted pics; I'm sure you and your daughter looked smashing in plaid together. This was chilling: "I was approached from the right by a burly woman who was putting on rubber gloves." If it had been me, I'd probably have taken a cab back to Canada.
Margaret: Of course, it was neither the frizzy hair nor plaid but what other crimes are we guilty of? Lord, knows us gals/women (or chicks -as we reclaimed the handle during those days in Ohio) had frizzy hair and as you know there has been an all-out war on the frizzies for some time now.

Again Lord knows plaid-wearing Canadians do require kid - or is that plastic - gloves. Was there something about us that said we had had to much subversive feminazi women-who-rock attitudes ... we've been accused of those too. In the end, I was probably to for blame eye-balling the short man out of curiousity wondering if he was an officer of the law. After all, you know when I travel in a foreign country my Mama Bear hormones kick in. If there was trouble a foot, well, I would want to know to guard my cublet and all. Damn, eyes of mine, getting me in trouble again for being intense. Next time I'm wearing shades, that should deflect any flack for sure! ;)
Great tale here Scarlett..frizzy hair rules.
It may have been the frizzy hair, but I think it was more the plaid.
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Never banter with security people. In a leather jacket or not.

Nice post.
Thanks for such a winsome and engaging post. This delightful to read.

Rated and appreciated.
What you describe as merely the ordinary contents of your purse are actually capable of being assembled into a weapon of mumblemumble destruction! I'm glad you returned home and to your routine of hair smoothing products before something really bad happened.
I too would love to know the reason behind your being singled out. Well told, but stuff like that is irritating and can put a damper on a fun time.
Totally bizarre experience in the line. But it's just as well if the genius in line behind you thinks you're dangerous. You might consider carrying a a barking pit bull app on your phone for those occasions that seem to demand a response, but you find yourself at a loss.
Hey, thanks folks who came by and bothered to read this past its expiry date.

By the way, used the word "chicks" with 'agency' as the conscious young say these days. My daughter, now 21, said she liked the term while we were in Ohio, so we decided to reclaim from all those high school boys who liked to bandy it around so. Hence the title. :)