DEAR TOKEN: Can I touch your hair? It looks awesome!
DEAR PRETTY: NO!
(As much as I want to, I can't in good conscience end this post there; but just know that getting this further breakdown is a gift meant to spare other ethnic people from my pain).
This is one of those questions that I get on a regular basis and, each time, it's a little more annoying than the last. It's not quite as bad as "Oh you're a comedian; tell me a joke?" but it's damn close.
I will give you credit for at least asking. More than one (almost always white) person has tried to cop an un-permitted feel of my luscious mane and come back with crooked fingers. If you want to see your man Token have a Christian Bale-level breakdown, go ahead and try it.
Look, I get it. My hair is cool. It adds to my mystique. And, truthfully, when I grew it back I felt like Samson after being imprisoned by the Philistines. The longer it gets, the more powerful I feel.
My hair is a source of pride and a part of my identity. And even though I choose to share my life and worldview with people on stage, or on the radio, or through this column, I choose not to have my identity be a walking laboratory for the curious. I am not Google, nor am I the ambassador from some highly fashionable Rastafarian commune.
I love my identity. I love being me. I will always represent myself authentically. But it's not my responsibility (or even goal in life) to make sure that you "get" me or have access to my innermost workings. Personal space is both physical and metaphorical.
There's also the issue of I DON'T KNOW WHERE YOUR FREAKING HANDS HAVE BEEN. I don't want all of your lunch and shame in my scalp. It's not a quick process trying to wash or dry my hair. When I sit under the dryer, I sweat through my underwear.
The people on my pre-approved list -- all three of them -- know who they are. If you're not sure you're on it, you're not on it. Sorry, Pretty. (Not sorry, Pretty).
Ultimately it comes down to this: respect other peoples' space and the world will be a better place. Particularly if you have an impulse to act based on someone's unique physical or personal trait, just say no!
Do unto others as you would like done to yourself is so passe. Here's that next-level ish: do unto others as they would like done to themselves.
Julian Michael aka "Token" is a former guidance counselor turned comedian, writer, and radio host. Take what he says with a grain of salt, because your food is probably bland anyway. Got a question? Need advice? Write to #DearToken here!