Curls in Crisis

Photo Curls Crisis

They were cut down into submission for years, never expecting that their time would come again. But, these asymmetrical follicles that tend to make hair curl as it grows, patiently awaited their comeback and what a comeback it was!

This year, a lack of a haircut on my regularly scheduled date continued on for months. Neither hairbrush nor comb could subdue the rampage of ringlets that little by little began to appear all over my head. I likened their appearance on the scene to a field of battle, as they helped each other to unfurl and together rose to independence. 

A blow dryer was no match for these stubborn spirals and soon I realized that letting them dry naturally was the only option. Problem was, there was strength in numbers and I had absolutely no control as to what direction or how they would style themselves each day. 

Thinking myself very clever, I decided that rather than fight them, I would give in and let them part and twist as they wished. But, just as I was getting used to that look, without any warning they rebelled and chose another direction in which to coil. One day, I actually thought I heard them giggling. 

Mornings have been especially difficult. Opening my eyes and seeing Mr. Wiz* smile and say good morning, I contentedly begin my day until I catch my reflection in a mirror and gasp. I look like the child of Margaret Thatcher (as she appeared in the latest episode of “The Crown”) and Don King, the boxing promoter known for his “tall hair.” Each day, I wonder how Mr. Wiz cannot see this; is it true love or does he not have his glasses on yet?

Out of desperation, I subtly introduced my unruly tresses to the bandanna. Folding and twisting it first, I slowly and gently maneuvered it behind my ears and then pushed the front of my hair back and quickly tied it. Surprisingly, they snuggled in and around it. All was well until I took it off and they reverted into rebellion again. 

To the outside, straight haired world, curly hair signifies freedom, strength and independence. I have come to the conclusion that my hair and I just don’t agree. I feel as if I have the wrong head on my body. If you’ve ever switched heads on your dolls, you know just what I mean (though switching Ken and Barbie’s heads did totally confuse my then 5-year old brother for a year or so). 

While my head says I am methodical, my hair says I’m wild and free. As much as I’d like to run in slow motion, shaking my head as my hair defiantly struts its stuff, the real me remembers back to the day when I’d blow dry my short hair quickly in the morning and it would obediently remain in place all day. 

Don’t tell them, but I am considering cutting off my curls. I might keep some in a zip-close bag where, much like a wild animal in a cage, they will behave and can be admired from afar. Who knows? Maybe on special occasions I might glue a couple of curls to my forehead and just for the day, pretend I am actually the girl with the devil may care hair.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Author’s Note:
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What Would Rosie the Riveter Do?

Photo Rosie the Riveter 1Photo Rosie the Riveter 2Photo Rosie the Riveter 2

Crossing the days off the calendar, not knowing when my hairdresser and I would be able to resume our relationship again left me frustrated. Well into quarantining, I arose one morning and started the day laughing, as I glanced at myself in the mirror. With uncontrollable curls now standing high all over my head, all I could think of was that I looked like Bozo the Clown’s illegitimate daughter. Thinking quickly, I gathered up my hair and harnessed those stubborn ringlets with a red bandana. “Good morning, Rosie the Riveter,” Mr. Wiz* said with a smile, as he kissed me.

During World War II, Rosie the Riveter was the star of a campaign to recruit female workers for male jobs in the defense industry, as men went off to war. In May 1943, Norman Rockwell celebrated those heroic women with his iconic painting on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post and people hummed the catchy tune of a popular song dedicated to Rosie.

One of Westinghouse Electric’s wartime posters coined the phrase “We can do it!” along with Rosie’s picture to encourage women to join the labor force. The poster was only displayed for two weeks, until another replaced it. Rosie enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s due to the 40thanniversary of World War II, the National Archives allowing licensing rights and the push for women’s rights.

Who was Rosie the Riveter? According to history.com, she was 20-year-old Naomi Parker, whose photo was snapped by a photographer as she worked in a machine shop at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. Naomi’s secret identity was finally revealed when she was 94 years old and she was able to enjoy the recognition until she died two years later.

Lately I’ve been thinking: what would Rosie do? If she were here now, she would make the best of her situation, just as she always had. She would help any way she could. She would be grateful for what she had during this difficult time, rather than gripe about what she was missing. She would look at the gift of time as a blessing.

I am riveted by Rosie, her story and her moxie.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Author’s Note:
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Unfurling My Curls

Photo Unfurling My CurlsBeing a little girl with curly hair had its perks. I could launch into a medley of ShirleyTemple songs and tap dance my way to a later bedtime, but as I grew up I became tangled in its complexities.

My unruly curls and I were soon taken to my Titi Olga’s beauty salon for a consultation (Titi is an affectionate term for aunt, in Spanish). Located in the basement of her home, it most probably was being run without a license. Possibly affected by the strong odor of the chemical solutions, JC* lost all control of the situation and the decision was made to trust the illegal professional to give me a permanent. I left there with a lollipop and a hair style that gave new meaning to Curly Top, one of Shirley Temple’s hit movies.

As a teenager, the Beach Boys music reminded me that my curls were interfering with my goal of long, blonde, straight hair and living in California. Luckily, I had read in a teen magazine that I could straighten my hair on my own. The project required an ironing board, an iron and one important item that I had forgotten about: the towel that goes between the iron and the hair. It was a miracle that JC walked into the laundry room just at the right moment and shrieked, saving me from a 911 experience that would, no doubt, still be the talk of the police locker room today.

There was another article in that same teen magazine (they went bankrupt soon after) that said to set your hair with juice cans, the larger diameter helping to straighten the hair. Though my younger siblings were apprehensive at first, the little entrepreneurs set up shop, charging their friends 25 cents to view their alien older sister in her native habitat. And, when I awoke one morning, screaming, as I discovered that you could read the word “Tropicana” in bold letters across my rolled hair, those little devils raised the admission price to 50 cents.

As if out of a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life, I unexpectedly experienced life curl free when I became pregnant. It wasn’t pretty. My mind raced through the twists and turns of a life without those rowdy ringlets and I swore on my bubble hair dryer that if my curls somehow returned, I would never brush them off as an annoyance again.

In an ironic turn of events, Big A* was born with a bald little head and my curls miraculously returned, crowning my head, once again, with those wild twirls of hair that were and are the root of who I am.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.