Broken Hair

The Never-Ending Saga

The topic of today's discussion is bad hair. What brings the subject to mind is that yesterday when I was talking to my daughter on the phone, her three-year-old, Avery, came in all upset wailing, "Ariel's hair is broken!” Not sure what she meant, Lauren carefully examined the doll's long wavy red tresses but couldn't find anything wrong, so she told Avery, "Ariel's hair isn't broken. See? It's just fine.” Only in Avery's mind it wasn't just fine. It was broken – and the fact that her very own mother couldn't see it, just made things even worse.

Believe me Avery, I know just how you feel. I can't tell you how many times my hair has been broken, and like you, in every case I was the only one who seemed to recognize how awful it was. Everybody else around me just kept saying ridiculous things like, "Oh, it's not that bad”, or "It looks okay to me”, or the absolute worst, "Nobody notices it but you.”

This problem and I go way back – a fact substantiated by baby photos of me, highlighting my Eddie Munster "widow's peak” hairline – but the very first time my hair was actually broken was at age five, when someone in my kindergarten class gave me a piece of bubblegum right before naptime. Sure enough, the gum fell out and got all tangled in my pigtail, and after all efforts by my teacher and my parents failed to dislodge it, the only thing left to do was lop both pigtails off! (Picture the ghastly end result in your mind – and then multiply that by about forty.)

Not long afterward I suffered another bout of broken hair, and although I have no personal recollection of this specific incident, I do have a photograph, which I shall enter into evidence as Exhibit A (please disregard my creepy gotch-eyed doll). I'm just going to assume that I whacked at my bangs with the scissors myself. Otherwise it would mean my Mother had a hand in making me look like this, and I don't even want to contemplate the horrors of such an idea.

Next there was a rather unfortunate encounter with a product called "Summer Blonde” when I was in the seventh grade, followed by the disastrous period when I was trying to master the art of rolling my own hair on brush rollers, whereby literally every day for about six months, I not only arrived at school with bobby-pin creases all over my head – I also had crisscrossing tape marks on my cheeks. (Don't blame me. It was the only way I could hold my Dippity-Do-slathered side curls in place while I slept.)

During my teen years and early twenties I seemed to have a merciful respite from broken hair, and except for a brief ill-fated attempt to emulate Barbara Feldon's short bouffant style from her role as Agent 99 on the TV show, "Get Smart” (see Exhibit B), and later a stab at the Dorothy Hamill "wedge”, throughout most of the late sixties and seventies my thick, long brown locks were surprisingly well-behaved. Then came the eighties.

Now contrary to what you're anticipating, I never really experienced "big hair.” But trust me it was not from lack of trying – hence my decade-long nightmarish ordeal involving that lovely little thing known as the Home Permanent. On one particular occasion (the painful memory of it is still seared on my brain) I got a little too much wave solution in my bangs, which were already a bit too short to begin with, and I ended up with what can best be described as a tight little row of Cheerios stuck to my forehead. The only way to resolve the problem would have been to cut that portion of my hair even shorter, and for those of you who are wondering why I didn't do that, may I kindly refer you back to the aforementioned photograph Exhibit A (again, please disregard my creepy gotch-eyed doll.)

Let's recap. Over the course of my life I have endured a bad hairline, bad gummed up pigtails, bad haircuts (both self-inflicted and professional), bad color jobs, bad coif styles and bad perms, all of which elicited the same irksome comment from well-meaning friends, "It'll grow out.” Now, as if my past history wasn't unkind enough, I have been beset with the cruelest case of "broken hair” yet. Middle age has arrived, thus transforming my once-silky, soft chestnut-brown tresses into a scary-looking dry, wiry dead-muskrat-gray witch's mane; and this time, alas, it will not "grow out.”

I don't feel like talking about this anymore.

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