The showers in the station were acting up again, giving five minutes of hot water followed by a minute's worth of icy blast. Some sort of pressure issue, they said. Ordinarily, this wouldn't bother me, but this is the one day of the week that I actually spend more than five minutes under the water.
It was dreadlocks-washing day.
I had my hair put in dreads out of sheer rebelliousness after I left the academy and joined the mercs. The picture that shows on my file is old, taken upon graduation, shiny as a new-minted penny, ready to fly in the Federation's honour. That didn't last long, did it?
It's weird, the reactions I get. People see a Minmatar with dreadlocks and they say,'Awesome hair!' But with anyone else -- Gallente, Caldari, I've even met an Amarrian with dreads -- people seem to think they'll smell, or be greasy and unwashed, or... you know, that's just stupid. It's the same damn process, it's the same damn care cycle, that everyone uses to make and maintain their dreadlocks. If someone with dreadlocks smells, it's because that person smells, not their hair. We're all human, it's not like one person has special 'dreadlocks genes' and another doesn't.
I bet nobody asks a Brutor how he gets pod goo out of his dreadlocks. I get that question all the bloody time. Pod goo dissolves when mixed with water; it's why nobody else ends up with their nice, shiny, normal hair matted with dehydrated nutrient muck after a long day.
And then of course people ask to touch your dreads and are amazed that they're in good condition. Biologically speaking, washing your hair every day isn't that great for your hair or your scalp; it's why you have to go buy that fancy conditioner to put all the nutrients back in after you've gone and scrubbed them out. Synthesised chemicals do a nasty job on your biochemistry. My dreadlocks do feel like ropes -- it'd be hard for them not to -- but they're soft, and the ends remind me of my paintbrushes (yes, shock-horror, a pirate who paints. Deal with it).
You make dreadlocks by sectioning hair at the scalp, teasing and backcombing each section together, and rubbing in a mixture of beeswax and vitamins to hold the strands together until the roots begin to grow out and lock. There's no using glue, cow-shit or other questionable materials -- those are vile myths. You can swim with them in, dye or bleach them, trim them short, and no if you no longer want them you don't have to shave your head. They react best if washed once or twice a week, and you just leave them alone the rest of the time. Spend a little time every few months making sure the roots are growing together properly, and they're happy.
Of course, the worst time is the first month of having them, when your scalp wails, 'Heeeeyyyy! You're not taking care of meeeeee! I want a maaassaaage! Where's my soooaap!' It takes time to adjust, after a lifetime of being pampered, and for the first couple weeks it does smell and it does itch and it does look horrible because your hair is full of beeswax and you can't wash it because the water runs off and you wake up with it stuck to your face in the morning and leave residue from it on your clothes. It gets better afterwards, but you have to get accustomed to not smelling like a florists' shop every day.
In the end, despite the cold outbursts, I did get my hair washed. The other women in the locker room gave me the oddest looks when I stepped out squeezing water from my dreads with a towel, and somebody muttered, 'I didn't think you could wash those...'