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March 19, 2009 / Maleesha Kovnesky

All About My Hair

I don’t think much about my hair.  I can’t.  It has been a source of trauma for so much of my life, that I have cast a mental block around it.  Think of a force field shaped like a shower cap…that is what is on my head.  This force field is so strong that I have been known to leave the house without combing.  I have a lot of emergency scrunchies hidden is secret locations, so I can quickly dash into a phone booth and come out looking…like a chick with a scrunchy.  But I have come to terms with my hair, and I only use the scrunchy so I don’t get herded onto the homeless bus by accident.

Allow me to lay back on the couch and tell you all about my hair…because you so want to know.

Age Four…

Long hair.  Long, perfect, hair.  I am unaware of my own hair.  All I care about is playing in the yard and chasing the three legged cat around.  One of these days, I am going to catch her. 

One of my parental units decides to take me to get a haircut.  The nice lady at the hair shop gives me a sucker and bobs my hair.  Much gushing is done by the nearby adults.  I am shy and embarrassed by the attention.  Thankfully this Dum Dum sucker is in my mouth and I don’t have to say anything.  Back at home, I am once again blissfully unaware of my hair…that is, until the other parental unit comes home to see the “hair-helmet.”  Much shrieking and yelling ensues.  What is going on? 

It is clearly my hair’s fault. 

Age Eight…

I hate my hair with the burning fire of a thousand suns.  It has to be in a ponytail because if it’s not, it will get yanked in the car door.  But if it is in a ponytail, I will spend each and every recess running from boys who are trying to catch me in order to yank my hair.  O, why cant we all be bald?  I hate my hair.

Age Eleven…

Hair awareness is blossoming.  The other girls are beginning to show up in fifth grade with curls that were not there the day before; their hair is starting to smell like coconuts or strawberries.  Their hair is like topaz to my dull and boring gravel. 

I recruit Carli to come over to my house to curl my hair.  We lock ourselves in the bathroom and dig through the drawers.  We find my mother’s 1970’s prototype curling iron that slightly resembles a porcupine.  We plug it in.  It smells like it is about to burst into flames, but we decide to proceed with the plan anyway.  Carli applies the metal cactus to my head and rolls up.  And up, and up, and up. 

Now my scalp is on fire.  It burns.  I yelp.  Carli lets go…but the appliance is tangled in my hair, and hangs there like a fiery piranha.  My mother appears in the bathroom and yanks the cord from the wall, minutes before the entire house burns down.  It takes two pairs of scissors and four episodes of Diff’rent Strokes to remove the “curling iron” from my head.  All electrical devices are placed in the top cabinets, out of reach.

Age Thirteen…

Just as they are beginning to go out of style, I am allowed to get a perm.  Joy!  Elation! 

I spend three hours at the salon, reading magazines that indicate I am well on my way to Above Average in the pants size department, a fact that I was previously unaware of.  The smell of death is applied to my hair.  Suddenly I wonder what the hell I was thinking

I focus on the glorious, shiny curls that will result from the pain and stink I am enduring.  I imagine myself on the cover of that magazine…I am now the After Photo, I will inspire thousands to look like me.  I will raise my left eyebrow in that come hither fashion, and money and fame will rain from the sky.  I am not quite sure what come hither means, but I sense that it will be important in life. 

After what smells like forever, the salon lady slowly removes the curlers.  Her fake nails keep poking me in the temple.  She dries my hair.  I am instructed not to wash it for two days. 

I wake the next morning and glance in the mirror.  Instead of Kathy Ireland staring back at me, I see Fozzie Bear.  I cry.  I refuse to go to school.  I contemplate stealing a crimping iron from the drugstore.

Age Fifteen…

The alarm clock sounds early, as the morning ritual takes at least an hour and a half. 

The process begins with precision movements of two different curling irons (1990’s versions of curling irons, just to be clear), several cans of Mega Ultra Super Hold Aqua Net, a “pick,” and imagination.  Some days I am lucky…that hair…see it?  That one strand on the left?  It falls right into place and I just know that Joe Schmo is going to be staring at me during Biology class.  Other days…I am not so lucky.  That fucking hair becomes so laden with hair gunk that it either a) goes wherever it wants to, or b) falls out.  The frustration grows as my hair gets worse and I risk being late for school.  I don’t care if I am late for school.  I must have perfect hair or someone is going to notice and I will be laughed out of the galaxy!  Do they have Aqua Net elsewhere in the universe?  I can only hope.

Age Eighteen…

The Parris Island barber takes a pair of scissors and goes to town.  My hair is short and if you turn your head to the side, it spells XANADU.  I don’t really care, because they took my contact lenses and I have these glasses that are the wrong prescription, I am wearing camouflage and it’s pretty safe to say I am one of the ugliest recruits the Marines have ever seen.  I like my new anonymity.  I don’t feel like anyone is looking at me. 

Age Twenty Five…

Hair does not a woman make.  I could have the most perfect hair in the world, but I never will, and if I did it would not solve one iota of my problems.  Or anyone else’s problems. 

Age Thirty…

If you don’t like my hair, go suck an egg.

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12 Comments

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  1. How to Get Six Pack Fast / Apr 15 2009 9:44 am

    My friend on Facebook shared this link and I’m not dissapointed at all that I came here.

  2. Carli / Mar 24 2009 12:55 pm

    hahaha….i still remember that moment clearly. I don’t think I could have wound that curling iron any tighter to your scalp. I’m surprised I survived that one 🙂

    heh, yeah, well we were young and silly…you know, completely unlike now when we are old and silly.

  3. teeni / Mar 23 2009 12:14 pm

    LOL! Awesome post. I have sad hair myself and have spent too much of my lifetime worrying about it. So I love your “go suck an egg” attitude. However, your hair has always looked nice in the pics I’ve seen, FYI. 🙂

  4. David / Mar 21 2009 7:30 pm

    Yeah, hair is way overrated. I was listening to this thing on NPR the other morning on the way to work and they were talking about how the shampoo industry began to grow in the early part of the 20th century. Woman only shampooed their hair once or twice a month a hundred years back and hell, I guess we survived. 🙂

    I’m with MTAE except I have a $30 electric clipper which I run all around my head every month or so. Not into the shaving …

    Hairy post maleesha 🙂

  5. expat21 / Mar 21 2009 3:43 am

    I always wondered as a child why my mother had to go to the beauty parlor each week. Now I know. It was because she had naturally curly hair. My daughter also has naturally curly hair, but very, very fine. She is in a never ending battle to straighten it.

    Very interesting post.

    Expat 21

  6. bluesuit12 / Mar 20 2009 8:54 pm

    This really cracked me up. I wanted a perm when I was a teen and thankfully my mom refused to let me have one. Since I already have naturally curly hair she basically informed me that it would be fatal. I still wanted one – until my best friend got one and I never asked again. But rest assured I didn’t need a perm to have other hair disasters!

  7. morethananelectrician / Mar 20 2009 7:29 pm

    I don’t know how you ladies survive with that turmoil…we just shave it off and we are good…it’ll grow back.

  8. natalie / Mar 20 2009 9:11 am

    ps. i meant to say that your post cracked me up!! i could relate to 90% of your “hair-ras” (get it–eras with HAIR?! hahah)

  9. natalie / Mar 20 2009 9:09 am

    god…was a perm a mandatory hair requirement for those of us who grew up in the last 30 years?! i also had a perm–courtesy of my MOM in our kitchen. i made her leave my bangs OUT of the perm. needless to say, i looked insane. and pretty much still do. i have a natural wave–not enough to be curly and enough that i have to fight to keep it straight in the humid weather. joy.

  10. Taoist Biker / Mar 20 2009 6:40 am

    Heheheheh. Oh boy, and I was without a blog idea today until now…

    😀

    Thanks!

    hey that’s great…I stole this idea from Romi, so I am glad to pass it on!

  11. crisitunity / Mar 20 2009 5:21 am

    BOY do I sympathize with a lot of this. My perm (fifth grade) was such a horrible mistake. (And I can still smell that awful smell.) I never went through the Aqua Net phase, though – my hair is too slippery to EVER do what it’s told by styling products, even the extra-extra-hold ones, so I just gave up and grew my hair super-long. Even if it didn’t look like the popular girls’, it was at least unique.

    Yes, yes, yes.

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