Permanently Disillusioned

This One Will Curl Your Hair!

I only have fifteen minutes, so this’ll have to be quick. The question on my mind is who was the moron that came up with the bright idea to call it a "home permanent”? I mean, clearly the man (and you KNOW it was a man) has no concept of the word "permanent”. Otherwise he’d have either come up with a formula that fit the definition, or at the very least he’d have had the decency to call it what it really is – a "home temporary”.

Of course I realize that some of you who are blessed with natural curls are likely to be as lost in this discussion about home permanents as Paris Hilton would be in a conversation about the self-checkout scanners at K-Mart. Not to worry. I’m going to break the whole process down for you, step by step. Information like this may seem useless now, but mark my words. One of these days while traveling abroad you’ll try and plug your curling iron into a European outlet and ppzzzzzapp! A few months later, when what’s left of your hair grows back, it could very well have all the curl of a horse’s tail and all the body and texture of canned spinach – in other words, you could be stuck with hair like mine – at which point you’ll be glad you read this article about how to administer a home permanent.

Step One: Go to the store and look for a box with a picture of a woman whose face is almost completely obscured by a tumbling mass of beautiful, shiny, luxurious wavy locks. Buy the box, fully anticipating that within hours you’ll look like the woman in the picture, and because it’s called a Home Permanent, firmly believing you’re going to look like that FOREVER!!!

Step Two: At home, assemble your tools, starting with perm rods, which of course you do not have. Go back to the store. Step Three: Okay, now you’re ready. Start by wetting your hair. Then take a strand of damp hair, pull it taut and surround it with a tiny piece of paper before rolling it up on the rod and securing it with a flimsy clip attached to a rubber band. The strand will hold in place exactly twenty-four seconds before turning loose and falling out – so you have to re-roll it. Repeat Step Three over and over again, throwing rods and papers across the room in anger and frustration, until you’ve managed to get all of your hair around rollers. This can take hours. (The directions cheerfully suggest that you "grab a friend” to help you, but honestly. Which friend do you really trust – or hate – enough to enlist in this little project? Rather than sharing the blame, you’re better off reserving every friend you’ve got for later on, when you desperately need someone to lie and tell you your hair looks fabulous.)

Step Four: Apply wave solution goop to your rods. The instructions recommend holding a towel against your face to prevent getting solution in your eyes. However, unless you are endowed with a third arm, you won’t be able to manage this feat, so just plan on being rendered painfully and legally blind.

Step Five: Wait fifteen minutes without disturbing your rods, during which time you can’t see and you are dripping solution everywhere. Take heart. You now have fifteen minutes to contemplate the outcome of this hair-brained idea. Will you end up looking like the woman on the box, or like Greg Brady during Season 5? The suspense is agonizing.

Step Six: Apply neutralizing goop, wait five more minutes and then remove the rods. Congratulations. Your hair is now curly – except for the strands that you missed. Those will remain horsetail-straight /canned-spinach-limp and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Step Seven: Read the part of your instructions that say, "Your new permanent should last approximately three months”. Step Eight: Ask yourself what kind of moron views three months as permanent. And while you’re at it, ask another question: What kind of moron is stupid enough to put herself through this ordeal four times a year – and has done so for the past three decades?

I’d love to help you with that last one, but I’ve gotta run. My fifteen minutes are up and it’s time to neutralize. Wish me luck!

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