Freshie looks in the mirror.
Oh God, he says.
Old man says: What’s the matter.
I got a hair, Freshie says.
Everyone’s got hair.
A really long gross one, like 13 inches long, on my face.
You got a razor.
Forget razors, honey. They make your skin all rough. Tweezers.
Fuck that. I am not gonna puck my face like I’m a chicken.
Let me see.
No. You go away. I want a razor.
Big man gonna shave.
What gets me is, was it here yesterday. Coiled up so everyone could see.
No one’s looking.
Like a rope right on my face. Like a snake.
A goddamned reptile. A dinosaur.
Freshie, look at me.
Freshie stares that sullen stare.
You use powder, he says.
Oh, the insults I put up with.
You gotta paint your face red because you got no color. And all that base all over your face to act like you don’t have wrinkles. It’s disgusting. Be who you are.
This is who I am. Got that.
The kid stares again.
See: the one with the lipstick and the powder and no wrinkles. That’s me. The other, that’s just this temporary thing. This body. This thing I inhabit. But this, the way I make myself seem: that’s me.
Freshie blinks. The old man looks straight into his flat black eyes. What the hell goes on in there?
How’s that work, being what you aren’t and becoming what you want to be, but it’s not for real. How’s that go? Like to always want to be what you’re not and try to be what you can’t always be.
That’s what the old man wants him to say. But Freshie doesn’t have words for this stuff. He just looks at the old man in the mirror, watches him apply the clown-like eyeliner and the false lashes and the extensions to his nails and the exaggerated, bloated red to his lips. But he doesn’t wonder about all that. He wonders how he got that strange hair on his face and why his friend the old man didn’t want him to use a razor and why it feels like a door that was open just got closed and the room is suddenly surprisingly cold.