Sunday, November 1, 2009

Toni Home Perms

Every now and them my children ask me to help them curl their hair.

Flash back to my childhood.

I would NEVER ask my mom for help curling my hair. I was the victim of way too many home permanents. In fact, I would run away as fast as I could when she came near me with a Toni Home Permanent box containing toxic chemicals and 52 pink torture devices in varying sizes.

In my Mom's defense, she had the very best intentions in mind. She wanted to make me pretty. The problem was that I was a tomboy with very unruly hair. And Home Perms did not make me pretty. Home Perms made me look like a poodle.

The 'Home Perm Season' in my house was typically the week before Easter. My Mom would stealthily approach, box in her hand and say, "Girls! Look what I brought home for you! A Toni Home Permanent!"

The first year my sister and I were willing guinea pigs, sitting nervously throughout the treatment, which involved rolling hair onto scores of rollers, overlapping each other onto our heads, being doused with noxious chemicals and remaining still as the chemicals seeped into our hair, heads, and clothing. After what seemed like hours, my Mom would take out the rods and rinse the chemicals from our hair.

It wasn't until my hair dried that reality sunk in. My hair had expanded exponentially, in every possible direction. To say my hair was frizzy is like saying a root canal might sting a little.

And there was one fact about home permanents. They were permanent. Nothing but time - or scissors - could get those curls to relax.

My house would smell like Toni home permanents for days. As if my new poodle-do wasn't obvious enough, you could smell me coming a block away. I can recall my 4th grade teacher looking at me the Monday after my Mom had her way with me saying:

"Mary Lou, did you get a Toni home permanent? You look look very.... (still searching for words)... you look very....curly!"

"No, she stuck her finger into a light socket", Alan Clark replied helpfully.

"That was no finger in a light socket mishap," said Miss Forth. "Can't you smell her Toni Home Permanent?"

By this time I was sunk so deep into my chair that only the tip of my afro was showing.

Thankfully, those days are over. When my daughters ask me to help them curl their hair I pull out the electric rollers, or curling irons, and voile!

And if they don't like how it looks, they can wash it out.

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