…and don’t call me Shirley

Yesterday was a good day — I found the barely opened bottle of cuticle remover I’ve been searching for for weeks. (I also found an inch of cat hair and dust behind my computer monitor, but that’s beside the point.) Yes, folks, this passes for a big event. I’ve only ever had 2 professional manicures in my life, and both times the manicurist exclaimed, “Wow, you have a lot of cuticles.” (They grow, the nails don’t.)

This reminds me of one of my most memorable “grooming events” — in college, at a fine Oakland hair salon (I don’t think we called them that in those days. It was probably the “beauty parlor” — oh how hopeful). I was going for the then-quite-popular Linda Evans look — the infamous ’80s Dynasty bob. (I even brought a picture.) As the hairdresser pulled and stretched and wound my stick-straight hair around a giant round brush (and practically out of my head), wielding her blow dryer like a sword, she uttered an exasperated, “Your hair has zip in the way of body.”

Beautiful. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted that over the years.

But please, in my defense, those were the days before “product” was a given. I distinctly remember being at my student/workstudy/office/part-time college job (around the same time as the zip incident) and dishing with the other women about this new invention called “mousse” that one of them had bought at a swanky Shadyside salon. Yes, ladies, the days of Dippity-do were finally over — unfortunately not soon enough to avoid all those pitiful bad-hair school pictures from junior high on up.

Oh, the quest for curly hair (aka Shirley hair — as in Temple of course). As a child (up until 5th grade), I had long hair to my waist that my mother braided EVERY DAY, causing me to cry EVERY DAY because of the knots she’d comb out. On “special” occasions, she would put it up in rags. Yes, rags. Torn strips of old sheets that you wound around sections of twisted hair to create ringlets. Try sleeping on twisted up rags all night… (Not to be outdone, my one sister slept on bristly curlers every night of her life for 10 years or so, with a hair dryer on her head. Noise and discomfort. It’s a wonder she can still hear.)

And then there was the time my older sisters, to make me “beautiful” for my oldest sister’s high school graduation (I think it was hers — I would have been about 4), set my hair in hot rollers. Then they couldn’t get them out. I remember being in the back seat of the car on the way to the ceremony and them trying to work those hopelessly tangled rollers out of my hair. (If you’ve ever seen the “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode where Debra gets a curling iron stuck in her hair while getting ready for an event, it was a lot like that, times 3 or 4.)

Those were the days.

These days, I have lots of expensive “product” on my sink and, lo and behold, a fresh bottle of cuticle remover at the ready. I’m good to go. My oldest sister (whose graduation prompted the hot roller incident) actually told me a couple weeks ago when she was visiting, “Your hair looks better.”

I chose to take it as a compliment.

How can I control my life when I can’t control my hair?
                                                  ~ Author Unknown

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