Before today's entry, here is a commercial
site with a lovely tribute to Fred Rogers (it may take awhile to load).
(a hair-raising tale)
1 March 2003
These thoughts were sparked by an entry
written in Under the Microscope a few weeks
ago. The entry concerned hair curling.
I have naturally curly hair. Like Frieda in the Peanuts comic strip. Frieda appears to
have become the forgotten Peanuts character because I searched all over the Internet to
find a graphic and couldn't. My hair has been the source of much comment throughout my
life. (My mother's favorite comment: "Look at that hair! It makes me sick!"
...she means that in a good way; she covets my hair)
I didn't quite have the tight ringlets that Shirley
temple did when I was a kid (or at least they look much more loose in the photos I see),
but as I got older the curls became more pronounced.
As the hair grew longer, my mother would form long
curls which eventually fell to my shoulders. As she tells it, it was a struggle each
morning because curling them involved brushing out the curls from the previous day, and,
she tells me, after she brushed the hair into curls, they would tighten up as the day wore
on, so that by morning, it was like trying to brush out a tightly coiled spring. Each
morning's brushing session involved a lot of tears (fortunately I don't remember this).
The fight over my curls went on for seven years until
one day when we were on vacation when she asked me if I wanted to have my hair cut. I said
yes, and she took me to a beauty salon to have all of those long curls cut off. She
couldn't bear to watch and left me there.
A funny thing happened when the hair was cut. Instead of starting all over again with
the short curly hair, my hair went straight. Well, not entirely straight. It always had a
natural wave in it, but it was decades before I could say that I had "curly"
Oh my hair looked curly during all those years. I was now into the world of pin curls,
brush rollers, permanent waves. Even though my "natural" curl was gone, the wave
stayed, so it was easy to get the hair to do what I wanted.
Of course I wasn't the one getting it to do what I
wanted it to do. My mother did my hair for me until I graduated from high school. In fact
one of my biggest concerns about going into the convent was that I had never done my own
hair and I didn't know how to do it (somehow I think that might have been a clue as to the
depth of my "vocation"!!)
We went to Hawaii as a last fling, spending the money my godmother had left me in her
will. I had my hair cut short for that trip and learned how to make simple pin curls so
that I could at least make my hair look like "something" for those first crucial
6 months. Then, of course, I never went into the convent, but I had taken over doing my
own hair. I learned to roll and sleep on brush rollers--those instruments of torture--but
I never did learn how to work a hair dryer effectively. I even wore a "fall"
once so my hair could be long and straight, since it never grew that way.
We entered the years where it was politically
acceptable to be barefoot, bra-less and pregnant and I was all three. To go along with it,
I let my hair grow long. I dreamed of having long luxurious tresses. Instead I got this
bushy "thing" that looked horrible. After four years, I couldn't stand it any
more and had it all cut off.
When my hair was short once again, a very strange thing happened. A beautician told me
this was not uncommon--the curl came back. No longer did I just have body with waves, I
actually had curls again--not tight curls, but very definitely curls. The explanation was
that it was like a spring and if you hang a weight on it (e.g., by letting the hair grow
for a long period of time), it all "springs back" when you remove the weight.
I didn't care. It became a joy to take care of. I didn't have to do much of anything.
No matter what the length, I just washed it, brushed it into somewhat of the shape I
wanted it to be when it dried, and that was it. "I hate you," my mother
I am well aware of how fortunate I am. And if I weren't, beauticians would remind me. I
don't think I have ever had my hair cut when the person cutting it didn't tell me,
as if she were the first to discover it, that I have beautiful hair (meaning that it is
beautiful to work with). I don't always get the best haircuts in the world. But I've never
had a real horror story where my hair is concerned. (The only "horror story"
involved not my hair cut, but the comments of the high priced beautician for whom I was a
"hair model" for
how to cut curly hair to the curl. The cut itself was the best I've ever had.)