I couldn’t wait to grow up, couldn’t wait for the day when I could curl my hair and wear high heels and lipstick.
I blame it on the lure of the forbidden pink curlers. From my perch on the toilet seat lid, I’d watch my mother roll her short, frosted hair into neat logs stacked in rows against her scalp. I couldn’t wait to grow up, couldn’t wait for the day when I could curl my hair and wear high heels and lipstick.
“Don’t touch them,” Mom warned me when I begged her to set my hair, too. “They’re not toys.”
So, one afternoon while she was in the kitchen having tea with her friend, Betty, I locked myself in the bathroom and furtively slid open the drawer where my mother kept her supplies. The pink curlers with their tiny plastic spikes lay like mini porcupines nestled together in a crib. Grabbing one, I sectioned off a hank of long, chestnut hair near my face. Then, as I had seen my mother do, I pressed the porcupine into the bottom of the strand and carefully rolled it upward until it reached my scalp, securing it with two clips from the drawer. I surveyed my handiwork in the mirror, pleased with what I saw.
I had four curlers attached to the left side of my head when my mother knocked on the door. “Susan – are you in there? What are you doing?”
I froze. “I’ll be right out,” I called.
She jiggled the door handle. “Why is this door locked? Open up.”
Yikes! I panicked and my small hands quickly pulled out the clips and dropped them into the drawer. Then I tugged at the curlers. The first two came out easily enough, but the more frantic I became, the bigger mess I made. Rather than unroll them carefully, I tried to slide the curlers out of the roll sideways.
This tangled my hair around the spikes and kept the porcupines immobilized two inches from my scalp.
“Susan!” She used her no-nonsense tone. “Come out here this instant.” There was more rattling of the doorknob.
“Just a minute!” I yanked hard and one of the curlers came free – bringing tears to my eyes – with several long brown hairs wound around it. I tried the last one. It wouldn’t budge.
“Susan!” I gulped. There, in the drawer, were the scissors my mother used to cut my bangs. I didn’t give it a second thought. I grabbed the scissors and cut just above the remaining curler, liberating it.
The next day at school my kindergarten teacher asked me why I was wearing my ski cap indoors.
“Porcupines,” I replied.