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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Helmet hair

By the time she was my age my mother had had helmet hair for fifteen years. You know what I mean. Every Saturday morning she went to the salon to have Verna wash and set her hair with tiny curlers and stick her under the dryer and then shellac her head with hair spray so that it was hard as fiberglass for the next week.She used a satin pillowcase to keep it perfect while she slept. Every now and then a brushy curler would appear for an hour or two to keep her bangs rolled up tight. It stayed that way for a full week. Not a strand out of place, the whole head of it stiff as a plastic bowl. My mother's head was more or less interchangable with those of other mothers, and most other women of her age. Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Lady Bird Johnson come to mind. Different hair colors, same helmet hair. When I step out of the shower in the morning I flop my long hair forward over my face as I towel it dry. I comb it. And flop my hair back and comb it again. I put my freshly showered head in the path of a blow dryer just long enough to fluff up my bangs, to prevent them from hanging limply in front of my eyes. That's it. That's all. Of course, I don't suppose she worried much about having a bad hair day.

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