Here’s a hair-raiser

This is truly a hair-raising tale.

When I was born, my hair was dark and straight. I was oblivious, of course, concerned mostly with the sudden draft of cold air and where my first meal was coming from.

By the time I was 2 or 3, I was curly-headed and blond, too young to realize that was license to have more fun. I just naturally had the fun without that special permission.

When I started school at age 5, my hair was dark and straight again. I don’t remember that being at all an issue. The only specific things I recall from that kindergarten year is the rug I used for naps, and the little boy who kissed me. (Still having fun, apparently.)

In the sixth grade, my hair started to curl. Nothing riotous, just waves with minds of their own. A memory from that year is picture day, when an eighth-grade expert decided to take control of the rebel waves and restyle my hair for the camera. My mother still hasn’t recovered.

Throughout high school, my hair got curlier and even frizzed in the humidity. I kept it short when the style was long and stick-straight, and I complained daily to my mother.

“I hate this hair! I don’t know what to do with it!”

My mother, whose hair has always been stick-straight, was no help at all, although she did attempt to comfort me.

“Someday, when you have your own kids and you’re busy, you’ll be glad you don’t have to fuss with your hair,” she said. You can imagine what I thought of that advice.

In college I decided to grow it anyway, having discovered the magical

Via Bing Images

Via Bing Images

properties of humongous-sized rollers. I invested in lots of them, as well as a floor-standing hair dryer, and “doing my hair” started taking up great portions of my day. I majored in journalism and minored in hair.

A few years later, I did what all teenagers think they’ll never do: I proved my mother right. I had my kids, my days were long and full, and I cut my hair short again. Wash it, comb it back, let it curl however it wanted, never another thought. My peers were jealous. Now I was the one with the bragging rights.

With my history, I should have known things wouldn’t stay that way. I am now old enough to collect government funds, and my hair has changed yet again. This time it’s gray–and gray it will stay because I have no intention of coloring it to that same shade of reddish brown that’s the telltale sign of doctored locks. (I wondered, in my 50s, why all my friends’ hair was the same color. Silly me.) If gray hair makes men “distinguished” and not old, that should apply to women, too.

But, worse than the gray, my hair is straightening again.

Hat-and-hood hair--the best I can do these days.

Hat-and-hood hair–the best I can do these days.

I can still coax a curl out of it here and there, and it looks especially good when styled and rearranged by a winter hat and hood after a long walk with the dog. That is far from a reliable route to chic.

I think it’s time for another heart-to-heart with Mom. I know just what I’m going to say.

“I hate this hair! I don’t know what to do with it!”

I already know part of the answer, though. If I live long enough, it’s sure to change again.

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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5 Responses to Here’s a hair-raiser

  1. Jennifer says:

    I can definitely relate, my hair is the curliest of all of the O’Neil girls (must come from the Schultz side) however as you well know my mom had stick straight hair as well. I just pull out the whip and chair each morning and do the best I can.

  2. blb1 says:

    I can’t comment for some reason at the site. It says I’m logged in. ???

    On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 2:00 PM, Monica’s Pen

  3. Bonnie says:

    Well now thru email I see the comment. But what I had said daughter reminds me my hair is not grey but white.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      Maybe it just takes a while for the comments to show? I don’t really know. I think snow-white hair is really pretty. Mine still has other colors mixed in. Mine is more silver, I suppose.

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