I remember how my eyes would water as I sat under the dryer with the curlers painfully tight against my scalp. Sometimes, the fumes would burn the hairs in my nostrils. Sometimes, my head felt bruised.
My mother was thrilled to have a little girl, but I’m not sure she ever got past the disappointment that I only had about three strands of hair on my head. It’s true, I still have the same amount of hair on my head that I was born with…maybe less.
Thin flat hair doesn’t do much. It doesn’t hold curl very well, it isn’t full and luxurious, and if it grows long, it just looks stringy. My mom was always trying to rectify the situation and I slept in more pink sponge curlers than anyone I ever knew. When I was old enough to sit at the salon for a “permanent,” my mom’s eyes glazed over with joy…she’d finally have the little girl with curls like she’d dreamed of (or so she thought).
EXCEPT…even chemically enhanced curls tend to fall straight out of old baldy’s hair, too. Or turn them frizzy…REAL frizzy.
After the curls would start to fade, seriously, within about four months, back to the salon we’d go. After a while, mom tried to do my perms at home, but those were disastrous, too…and they stunk up the house! We’d fight and I’d fidget and try to leave the salon early. Because of my thin hair, I never got the cool spiral perm curlers, just the old lady regular kind…and I hated them. My hair never looked natural and I was asked a number of times if I was of mixed race because the curls just so tight.
My freshman year in high school (yes, we’re talking almost ten years of tight, kinky curls), we introduced color into the mess. Until one day I found clumps of hair in the bottom of the shower. It was game over at that point. My mom wasn’t willing to send me to school with patches of missing hair. She’d finally found her breaking point. And I finally found my sanity…and my voice…and I never had to wear my hair in curls ever again.
Do you remember those noxious fumes? What was your least favorite hairstyle?