I was a bald egghead of a baby, so bereft of hair that my mother sewed a bow into the wisp I'd acquired by my first birthday. Sounds dangerous to me, but they didn't have car seats back then either. At four, I had a mass of silken strawberry-blond curls. But around seven, those glossy ringlets were replaced by strange-unwelcome-interloper hair: thick, wiry, auburn and unruly.
By adolescence, pony tails offered the promise of salvation. My best friend had a sleek blonde and barretted version. Sadly, they made no barrettes big and strong enough to contain my wild mane; I used industrial strength rubber bands. And I wore bangs, a crimped fringe to which my mother applied Jo-Cur styling lotion, a concoction with the consistency of snot, then bound them under a smooth faille band. Eventually they dried and emerged a sheet of shiny perfection. Which, of course crinkled as soon as I frowned or a speck of humidity made contact. That's when I started having my hair straightened at a salon called Ollie's where they used a thick cream that singed your scalp a bit, but sent you on your way sleek and sassy with confidence. You could walk through a thunderstorm and your hair stayed straight until the tiny nasty wavelets grew back.
In college, the requisite stick straight hair took more discipline than even Ollie's could apply. My roommate ironed it smooth or I set it with cans that once held frozen orange juice. Miserable, I considered switching my major to theatre where they worshipped Bernadette Peters. Then to the rescue, hot rollers and eventually the curling iron and straightening rod. But most important, at a low point in my life, fabulous Hasan entered. My hairdresser is Turkish with arms of steel and a will of iron He wields his dryer, a portable inferno, like a weapon as he pulls and tugs the enemy into submission. And now, midlife, I love my hair! (At east until the next home shampoo.) Nightly, I pray Hasan will outlive me.
A friend with similar hair has let it go wild, back to its primitive roots. Her attitude,"I've finally surrendered to my hair," is very serene, very noble. Well, good for her. But I'm not throwing in the towel yet. For me this is a fight to the death. And if there's something to be said for death , it's that if I check out with smooth, straight hair, I know it will hold forever.
A character in one of my books--recently written-- is half Asian/half-Caucasian, I gave her super shiny straight dark hair, a cinch to manage. They say writers should draw from their own experiences, but I wanted to vicariously enjoy an experience I never had.