Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Bad Hair Day - Part 1

Although existing before 1992, the phrase, a bad hair day, soared into prominence in the 1992 movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Buffy (Kristy Swanson) to the one-armed vampire Amilyn (Paul Reubens):
"I'm fine but you're obviously having a bad hair day."

The idiom means (1)a day on which one's hair seems unmanageable.(2) Also extended to mean a day when everything seems to go wrong.

I own a lifetime of (1) bad hair days, but (2) fewer days gone wrong.

Mother believed that little girls - all females for that matter - should look like, well, like girls. To this end, she was determined her two female children would meet the test of looking like girls [what ever that protocol is], no tom boys allowed. OOPS, I was already in trouble as far back as I can remember.

This "look like a girl" agenda began for my sister and me when we were infants. Not that we remember, but old photographs don't lie. We wore a lot of pink, even if we looked hideous in that color, and our hair was curled by whatever means available in those days.

My sister and I were both adopted; we are not blood sisters. We both had hair that would frustrate any hairdresser. Sister's hair was fine and silky, light brown and did not hold a perm well. My hair color was brunette, and its texture was a challenge. Perms burned and frizzled my hair, despite meticulously following instructions. The texture changed from somewhat coarse with no body to wiry when wet.

I remember my first beauty shop permanent. Mother dropped me off at a friend's beauty shop.[After my visit, I'm not sure the friendship endured.] I was confronted with a roomful of gossipy, yakking women and terrifying torturous appliances from some horror movie.

All was well until it came time to perm the hair with the electric curling machine chair. I took one look at that contraption and wondered what dastardly deed I had done to deserve punishment by electrocution. I screamed and cried as I was led to my perceived execution.

Despite assurances the procedure would not hurt, I continued my loud protests. The hairdresser lied. My head got hot and the smell of burning hair permeated the air. The odor was a cross between Bakelite insulators and tires burning. If I survived, I would be bald for life.

In the ensuing years Sister and I were subjected to 'Which Twin Has the Toni?' stinky, scalp-burning permanents and many other home curling ideas including home curling irons and brushes. Mother also permed her own hair.

Mother's hair and to some extent Sister's hair always looked nice. My results looked like a freak in a horror movie. Mother was not to be deterred. She tried everything that came down the turnpike on my hair. In my teen years she once again resorted to beauty shop perms, the results of which were not much improvement over home perms.

Bad hair days continued through college, my early career days, and marriage.

Just married in 1969, we moved to Baltimore where my husband's (H) naval assignment was aboard a reserve training ship docked in the Baltimore harbor. Money was tight for a while as I embarked on a new phase in my career - relief pharmacist.

My weekly beauty appointments were temporarily suspended until our financial outlook was better. But I needed a haircut badly. An annoying persistent ad on TV featured a device called a TrimComb, 'just comb your hair for a evenly shaped haircut for pennies a day.' It was unisex, too-suitable for both men and women. I ordered one for $9.95.

With visions of saving millions and eliminating a line item in our imaginary budget, I eagerly awaited its arrival via U.S. Postal Service. When it arrived, I read the somewhat vague instructions and decided to trim my hair while watching TV. After all, you just combed your hair and it magically provided a nice haircut.

Nowhere in the directions was a warning you would have choppy patches of 1/2" hair, surrounded by longer hair, or NO hair-bald patches. When I looked in the mirror that image looking back needed an exorcism.

H was appalled; for some strange reason he favored the barber on the ship...

After a couple of days at work, with some uncomplimentary comments directed at my new 'do, I sought an hairdresser willing to tackle my hair. Finding one near home,I arrived in person with my specimen of a TrimComb hairdo. Her face was white like she had seen a ghost; I thought she might faint.

She said it would take several months of trimming and shaping to get back to normal. Fortunately she had seen other TrimComb specimens, but none so severely destructive as mine. I prefer to think it was a creative cut myself.

Little did I know, you could cut hair to grow, or slow the growth--or so she told me. Unfortunately, TrimComb cuts were the no-grow way.

My husband extracted an oath in blood from me that I'd never try to cut my own hair again. And I haven't.

[I tried to find a photo of TrimCombs on the Internet and E-Bay, but to no avail. In the early '70s the ads ran all night on TV.]

Later - Part 2 ..Same song, second verse; could be better, but it's gonna be worse!


Arkansas Patti said...

That is just too funny. I have one early school picture of really bad hair. My dad fixed my hair on that picture day. I have a friend who keeps it tucked away for blackmail purposes.
Must have been your Cherokee heritage at work there fighting perms.
I have found those trim combs for dogs and was seriously thinking of doing that to Mighy after his bad groomer experience. Still want to give it a try.
Cute pony. Looks a lot like the one I got to keep my horse happy.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Very, very funny...I had similar frustrations with my hair... (I wrote about it in a post in Dec 2008)...but after chemo, my ultimate bad hair day...LOL...I have kept it short as it has grown more battling with it...happy to be a tom-boy!!! Hurrah!!!! Thanks for sharing this! You are so witty, and you have written this in a very compelling way!!! You brought back so many, many memories!!! I LOVED it!!! Thanks too for your so very kind, thoughtful, and encouraging comments! It means so much to me! I am so blessed to call you my friend! God bless you!!! ~Janine XO

Lorna said...

I am one of those persons who has a bad hair day every couple of years, but I do walk into walls, people forget my name within seconds and i had a really crummy first marriage.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Oh! I love this! I have had "problem" hair all my life. I used to tell my mother that it was evident she didn't love me as much as my sisters because their hair was always curly and beautiful and mine stuck out at all angles and had a mind of its own. She reminded me that she would spend hours, literally, trying to get my hair to behave, to no avail. I've fought my hair all my adult life. I had to laugh at the photo of the woman sitting under the "torture machine" of rollers. My first "official" perm was on one of those (age 8 -- Mama was getting desperate); it seemed like it took all day, and all I got was really frizzy hair!

Waiting for next installment. :)

NitWit1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NitWit1 said...

Post Script to the TrimComb disaster [Bad Hair Day - Part 1]

I searched the eBay site and found a similar device. Here's the link. Please note the deceptively, enticing message about the product.

I hope you can link to it. If not maybe you can copy and paste the address in your brower.

Amber Star said...

I had one of those horrible perms when I was a young teen. It was traumatic. I have the picture around here somewhere...or maybe not.

We bought one of those hair trimmers, too. My husband thought I could just cut his hair and/or the kids. Well, I had about the same results as you did and I think the last time I used it was to groom a horse. :)