LaughLines: It’s Positively Hair-Raising

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I have curly hair. No. Make that life-of-its-own-kinky-curly-out-of-control-hate-it-til-I-die hair.

My hair is the center of my universe, the bane of my existence, the thing that can make or break my day, my week, my decade. Some people look through photo albums and enjoy the memories. I look through them and mentally add up the good hair days. (“High school graduation, nice hair . . . Wedding day, high humidity, frizzies . . .  Claire’s first day of school, driving rain, ugh.”)

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I had straight hair until puberty, and then – pow! Hair that had a life of its own, hair that meant I was never going to look like Cher, with long straight hair parted in the middle. That was the way to go when I was in high school, but instead of Cher, I was Roseanne Roseannadanna, with a triangular mop that only got worse with the weather. High humidity meant an expanding frizz ball that made it hard to fit into doorways. And the change could be instant: leave the house in the morning looking pulled together, come back at the end of the day with curls that defied gravity and nature.

I’ve tried everything to control this monster. I’ve cut it short and left it long. I’ve used curlers, clips, industrial-sized tubs of Dippity-Do, and even ironed it a few times. On rare occasions, I give up and let ‘er rip, and while some people think the corkscrew curls are great, I manage a smile and shrug. They can’t know what it’s like to have this thing on your head, something with a life of its own that can turn on you without warning.

Short of a whip and a chair, I usually use a hair dryer with a comb attachment – they used to call them “hot combs” – but man, they’re getting hard to find. I have two in the closest as back-up, since the size of the mop and the time it takes to dry it have killed at least two dozen hair dryers. They just fizzle out with a puff of blue smoke. Even they’ve given up.

Last fall I bought a flat iron, and I have to admit I have hope for the first time in years. I dry my hair as usual and then go to work flat-ironing little sections until they’re beaten into submission.  I may even have a shot at bangs, for the first time in my life, but I’m not getting too excited, since fall and winter are my best hair seasons, thanks to low humidity and wool hats. Let’s see whether this flat iron can work its magic in the spring, shall we?

My mom thinks my hair is great (she also thinks women shouldn’t work outside the home and that the moon landing was faked). She has stick straight hair, and she’s always predicting that some day, I’ll love my curly hair. Well, Ma, I’m still waiting for that eureka moment.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to look forward to hat hair and and turning down summer party invitations for fear the dew-point gets above 50. Sure, I’m missing out on the fun things in life, but then again, I’ll look fabulous in photos. Pass that Dippity-Do, will ya?

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.