Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In The Old Days – When We Wore Curlers

Back in the old days when I was growing up, we didn't have the necessities teenagers have today. Take blow dryers for instance – we didn't have them. We had hair dryers, monster contraptions that came with hoods and required us to sit for hours beneath them. 

What about flat irons, you ask? Are you kidding? People with curly hair used actual irons to straighten their hair.

So when it came to days like my high school Homecoming dance, if we weren't going to an actual hair salon, we would have to set our hair on curlers, archaic circular tubes that we stuck on our heads with bobby pins.

Either that, or we would have to wind our hair around hot pink sponge rollers, which we would have to leave in our hair overnight (or for a couple of days) to give our hair ample time to dry.

We often saw little old ladies in grocery stores with rods in their heads or hair strands tightly wound in bobby pins, but we never saw teenagers walking around looking like their parents or (gasp!) their grandparents. We were too cool for that.

Which is why my Senior Homecoming was so traumatic – not only for me, but also for one of my sisters and two of our friends.

We were driving a Corvair (for some bizarre reason Chevy no longer makes that model) as we ran some necessary errands before the big dance. My boyfriend and his father just recently had taken the engine out to repair it and then put the engine back in the shiny black Corvair, so we were set to go.

My sister, friends, and I had never before gone out in public with our hair in curlers, but we needed something for the dance and we figured that since we weren't actually going where anybody other than our friends would see us, nobody would notice us.

Shortly after I (the driver) picked everybody up, and as we were driving down a 2-lane highway four blocks from my home, the car suddenly came to a screeching halt.

"Why'd you do that?" everybody yelled at me.

"I didn't. Maybe the brakes broke."

Great! Now what? I couldn't get out of my car with rollers in my hair ALONE, so I decided that I had to make my embarrassment a group effort!

"Everybody get out with me."

Screams came from all around me. "NO! I don't want anybody to see me like this!" and "I am NOT taking even ONE STEP outside this car!"

"Well, what about ME?"

Nobody cared, so I did what anybody who drives a car does while traffic lines up behind her – I got out of my car after banging my beer-can-sized curlers on the hood (OUCH!), looked directly at the people in the cars lined up behind me, faced my palms skyward, and shrugged.

I then thought, after having seen my boyfriend move the car with ease, why not move the car myself? How hard could it be? After all, this car – on wheels – weighs probably only around 30 pounds, right?

"Everybody get out. I can't move it with you guys in it."

With despicable loathing shooting from their eyes, they each climbed out of the car. There we were, four teenagers dressed in curlers standing in the middle of the road, pushing the car with our butts. Nothing happened.

Angry drivers passed us and a couple of guys, after watching our ineptitude, got out of their cars to help move the poor excuse for a car off the road.

It wouldn't budge. Wimps!

Then two burly truck drivers, coming from the opposite direction, pulled off to the side of the road after witnessing the wimps' inability to move a CORVAIR off the road and crossed the road to assist us.

It still wouldn't budge. Which was funny considering that normally you could lift a Corvair with your pinkie and it would float like a feather. Who was the wimp now?

But these two bulky men refused to accept the fact that they could not move my lightweight Corvair, so they got down on all fours and looked under the car. Guess what they found?

No, really – guess. I'll wait.

Can't guess? OK, I'll tell you. The engine that my boyfriend and his father had put back into the car had fallen out of the car and had become embedded into the pavement!

In the days before cell phones, we had to walk home with curlers in our hair on the day that NOBODY was supposed to see us until the dance – to get help.

Oh, yes, those were the good old days.

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