Get Set…

White, hot rage rose up from inside my chest and came out of my throat in a loud, horrible wail concluding in a shrill screech. I wasn’t getting my way and I hated everyone…especially Mom and my sisters.

When I was little, my family would offer to set my limp, fine hair. It never mattered to me if it was done or not. Then slowly as the years passed, I began to notice how much nicer I looked when my lazy-bum-tresses were curled.

At age twelve, my personality developed a new facet and the vain pussy-cat in me emerged. I rudely insisted my hair was properly dressed after every washing. The more I wanted it done, the less Mom and my sisters cooperated.

The Saturday morning that found me locked in our farmhouse bathroom, raging and howling, was the day my support staff, Mom and my sisters, flatly refused to set my hair anymore. In varying decibels, they each shouted, “You’re old enough to do it yourself!”

I didn’t like the way anger made me feel, dirty, wicked and deformed. The poison of it coursed through my veins like hot lava, making it hard for me to think straight. I wanted to throw and break things, but instinctively knew that wouldn’t make me feel better; only dirtier, more wicked and completely deformed.

Sobbing, I turned to the cupboard where our family bin of curlers was kept. Pulling the box out and turning towards the sink, I spotted my red, tear-stained face in the mirror. I saw ugliness inside and out in my reflection.

Looking into the mirror, I took a comb and tried to part my hair. I parted my eyebrows instead. I stamped my foot and screamed in frustration. Everything in the glass was reflected backward. How was I going to be able to set my hair?

Slowly, with great difficulty, I twisted hair around several curlers. When I couldn’t fit anymore on my head, I skulked out of the bathroom and hid until my hair was dry. Curled hair was my goal, style was optional, so I considered the outcome a success.

At the supper table that evening one of my sisters crooned, “Kathy, your hair looks so…curly!”

She was mocking me! The white-hot anger from earlier in the day suddenly reappeared. I once again felt hatred, made all the more painful with no way to express it. A tantrum at the supper table would never be tolerated. Any appetite for food was gone, so I furiously stormed out of the room.

Since my hair has been totally limp and without body all my life, I have set or used a curling iron every day for the last fifty years and more. The vain pussy cat in me is still alive and well. I want hair that looks fluffy and pleasing in appearance. Since I have so much experience, I can now curl my hair in the dark, with my eyes closed and I suspect even in my sleep. The backwardness of looking into the mirror no longer seems backward.

I’m grateful that I learned to take care of myself, but feel amazed at how horrible I felt as a twelve-year-old when I was forced to start. Was my anger and hatred hormonal? Had my family position as baby of a large family resulted in my acting out such spoiled-rotten behavior?

I believe I learned something that Saturday morning as a tweenager besides how to set my own hair. I learned that hatred is ugly as the devil. It is dirtier than anything a person can find in a barn, more deformed than a lost soul and so painful the mere memory still horrifies me.



One thought on “Get Set…

  1. Typical Kathy–nice story with a lesson for all. Hair is listed as ‘crowning glory’, but when it is a problem it isn’t so glorious any more. Thanks for sharing how you solved this problem ‘like a big girl’ & we all can relate in one way or another.

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