Curls Gone Wild

(This post is not about this dog, or any dog for that matter. I feel the need to tell you that upfront because I know dog people can be pretty impassioned, and if you are a dog person and you read through this entire post expecting a story about a kooky little pooch and arrive at the end without the slightest mention of a canine, well, I don’t want to know what will happen, but I imagine you will go on a three hour funny dog video Internet binge to compensate, and nobody, especially not your employer, wants that. So let me tell you now, this photo of a poodle mix is nothing more than a clever representation of the content of this post: curly hair. And the fact that the title is Curls Gone Wild and the photo is of an animal just sealed the deal for me in my google image search. But, I repeat, this post is not about a dog.)

Even now, I don’t know her all that well. Just when I think she’ll spin right, she spins left. When I want her to straighten out, she grows wilder. One day she’s my best friend, the next day she’s a total wench who is determined to cause my demise. She’s been hanging with me for 26 years now, but I just don’t understand my hair.

My hair and I have something of a tumultuous history. When I was ten, I hoped my hair could act as a rope bridge between me (a chubby late developing adolescent who wore my older brother’s hand-me-down leather jacket and sweatpants when only cropped jackets and jeans were cool) and the popular girls (who called themselves The Pink Ladies after the somewhat slutty posse from Grease, although this gaggle of gals was not slutty… yet). One afternoon I overheard them plan to show their solidarity by all wearing pigtails. Desperate for inclusion, I too showed up for school the next morning wearing pigtails, or at least the sad version of pigtails that I had managed, all lopsided and frizzy because I’d never done it before. I arrived at school thinking the hairstyle could act as a camouflage for popularity– as if the cool kids had the stilted vision of tyrannosaurus rexes, and if I didn’t make too much noise or any sudden movements, they’d just see the pigtails and assume I was one of them.

Not so.

It took about five minutes before the leader sent over her ambassadors, who told me that I better take down my hair, and they stood there and stared until I relented and tugged out my pigtails one by one.

But I’m over it. Really.

Three years later, there was another ‘do debacle. After adequate whining, I had convinced my mother to rag roll my hair. This basically means that she wrapped sections of my hair around strips of my dad’s old socks and, in the morning, I expected to unravel them and find Shirley Temple smiling back at me from my bathroom mirror.

It worked! I untied the sock knots and the big, fat curls of a 1930’s child actress fell onto my shoulders. It was amazing. A miracle. Now all I had to do was brush my hair and I could dash to school and show everybody this incredible transformation.

For those that have never brushed out a curl, allow me to describe the dire consequences of such an ignorant action. The brush bristles divided this perfect elegant curl into a million tiny springs that popped from my forehead like an elaborately ribboned present. It looked like I had stuck my finger in a socket and that the electricity had shot through my body and headed straight for this one patch of scalp. I stared in horror at my reflection, which looked as if all the slinkies that had ever been produced now projected off one corner of my head. The other seven curls still bounced with subtle grace, as if they weren’t aware of the chaos ensuing around them.

I don’t know if I was too stunned or too stupid, but I didn’t consider brushing out the rest of the curls to match, or taking a shower to wipe the whole slate clean. I went to school. Like that. With one curl gone wild. I never asked my mother to rag roll my hair again.

You would think that the Curly Temple incident might have taught me to abstain from brushing, but no. Eight years later, I had accepted the fact that my hair kind of bit. I could never get it to straighten, and it was all poofy with random indents. I was sixteen when a wise friend suggested I try not brushing my hair and scrunching a little mousse in there, just for kicks. Sixteen years I had lived with my hair, never knowing it was naturally curly. Not Shirley Temple curly, but definitely Jessica Alba curly (and there’s the one and only time I’ll be able to compare myself to Jessica Alba– unless for some reason in the future I am asked to name a list of people who are anatomically female. Then I am totally putting me and Jessica Alba in the same sentence again, because this felt just great).

I haven’t brushed my hair in about a decade. I’m not even sure we have a comb in the house because, call it camaraderie or slob-ery, it’s been about that long since Phil has brushed his hair as well.

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