Strawberry conditioner


When Eliza washes her hair, she emerges from the bath with it in a tangled mass. The cure is hair conditioner and the promise of strawberry conditioner is the strongest incentive for Eliza to wash her hair. It comes as a spray from a red plastic bottle and infuses the bathroom with a sickly strawberry smell. Last time she washed her hair, there was no aroma, and it seemed barely effective at untangling her hair. But L persisted until frustrated she turned the bottle to read the label: sunscreen spray – picked up by mistake and with a close resemblance to the conditioner bottle. Eliza went back into the bath and washed her hair twice more. The next day her hair was lank and had absolutely no smell of strawberry.


Gabe remains one of the shortest and slightest children in his school year. Some of his friends have a headstart in height on him. He’s buoyed by the idea that growth comes in spurts and his is due. His Nan has supported this notion with stories of my diminutive stature at primary school – stories that don’t accord with my own memories. And so Gabe expects to reach my height as an adult. For the time being, his size can surprise. A visit from out of town from my friend P began with a trip to watch Robin’s football practice. As we approached the hall, P hailed the young lad he recognised practising his shots against a wall. “Well hello, Robin,” P exclaimed to Robin’s big brother.


Gabe asked why the Swede in the chemists joke was funny. L explained how someone who didn’t speak strong English may misinterpret the words ball and aerosol. Gabe laughed. Robin roared. Quickly he checked himself. He said he didn’t understand, but was going to laugh anyway, which he did with such passion that all five of us joined him in five minutes of hilarity.



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