Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Harrowing hair tales

Look what I got in the mail from the lovely Laura Bowers recently:

It's a handy (pun intended) emery board advertising her forthcoming YA novel, Beauty Shop for Rent. (I even used it to file my nails within moments after opening the envelope, since I really needed to do so at the time, though I only used the plain side!) Very nifty.

Laura is also having a contest right now to win a galley copy of her book. See her blog for details. Two of the ways to enter are to share a bad salon experience, or a photo of a bad hairstyle you've had. You can get another entry by posting a link to her contest on your blog. I'm going for broke by doing ALL of these things. I've suffered enough from bad hair to deserve a few entries! ;-)

I've had many bad salon experiences over the years, but one stands out as the worst because it was bad in several shudder-worthy ways. I was in 9th grade, which was still in junior high instead of high school in my town. My hair was flat and limp and wouldn't hold a curl--or more importantly in 1980, couldn't be shaped into properly feathered bangs. Obviously, something had to be done. My grandmother decided to help me out by getting me my first perm--a body wave just to help my hair hold curls. For some reason, even though she usually didn't mind paying for quality and this was a very vulnerable age in my life, she took me to get the perm at a small, hole-in-the-wall sort of beauty college. Here the horrors begain. First, my student hairdresser, Lawanda, was smoking while doing my hair, dropping ashes on me as she worked! Second, she didn't cover my clothes well, and spilled some sort of perm fluid on my favorite t-shirt, leaving a big white stain where the color was apparently bleached out of my shirt. But worst of all...she left the perm solution on too long, and burned a section of hair off the top of my scalp. I'm not sure how big the burned spot was now--maybe the size of a nickel or quarter--but it might as well have been the size of a silver dollar when I was in 9th grade!

As the hair grew in, it stuck straight up, which was very obvious. My solution to this was to keep cutting that section of hair back to crewcut length every time it grew to a quarter or half an inch. I did that for months of the school year. Finally, I decided I had to let it grow out sometime, and so I did. It probably grew to an inch high standing straight up, before it finally started laying flat like the rest of my hair. Meanwhile, throughout that time, a couple of guys at school called me "Mohawk"! At the end of the year, when one of them signed my yearbook, he drew a picture of a man with a Mohawk, and I was so mortified I actually colored the rest of the man's hair in later, so no one would see that in there & figure out what he was referring to. (And I just found my yearbook and scanned it in here!) I never thought much about it after that, and if you'd asked me, I would have said it wasn't that traumatizing...at least, the guys who made fun of me were teasing me in a friendly way, rather than a malicious one. However, when preparing to write this up, I realized that in my YA novel draft, written more than 20 years later, one of the traumatic & formative experiences in the protagonist's past was dyeing her hair bright red in junior high and getting harassed and made fun of about it the rest of the year, with kids calling her Raggedy Ann and Painthead. I guess my "Mohawk" problem stuck with me longer than I thought! (But strangely, I continued getting perms for years after that, and even went to a beauty school for some later haircuts--and not all those experiences were trauma-free, either--but I never again got a perm at a beauty school, and only braved an upscale one for the haircuts!)

I don't have a photo of my mini-Mohawk look, but I still have quite a few bad hair pictures from my past. So, with a bit of humiliation, I present to you a small sampling of Alison's bad hair history. As I said in a humor piece I wrote once: "Bad hair--for some, it's just a phase. For me, it's a way of life!" (This was brought back home at Cynthia Leitich Smith's launch party for her book Tantalize this week, when my bangs were so horribly in my face I had to resort to pulling them back with a headband that made me feel 11 years old all night!) I guess I really need the help of Laura Bowers' protagonist!

1 comment:

Babs said...

You're a very brave girl to post those bad hair pics! I swear I had the same hairstyles. :) But thank god, I was saved the mohawk experience... too funny.