My Permanent Nightmare
Through the miracle that is Facebook I have learned that a movie entitled, Permanent, is set to drop on December 15th. I don’t know much about it nor do I need to. All I need to know is that it chronicles some poor kid with a really bad perm. Welcome to my entire childhood.
My mom began forcibly perming me around the age of six. Straight hair in the 80’s was full blown tragedy and I was born with the horrifying defect of terminally straights locks. My mother did some hard praying while pregnant in the Church of Christ to make sure I was born with curls or at bare minimum that the Lord would see fit to toss me some waves. No dice. But my mother had no intention of admitting defeat. Enter the permanent.
Every 6-9 months I would be dragged over to Helga’s salon to be permed. After my ten tiny hairs were pulled taut and locked into plastic rods, they gave me a towel to hold over my face as liquid acid was discharged all over my scalp. I was then led to a holding area where I could sit and percolate. This was my mom’s cue to run errands while my hair cooked. You grow up fast reading stained copies of People magazine while your hair is seared into acceptable ringlets. I still have a lot of feelings about Baby Jessica, the Iran-Contra hearings, and that feud between Krystle and Alexis Carrington.
The rule of perm was to refrain from getting your hair wet for at least two days. Diane stretched that out to three just to make sure the procedure was fully sealed. A lot of my childhood was sacrificed to the perm waiting period. But once she did compromise for an end of the year swimming party. I was placed in a shower cap and told not to leave the shallow end.
There were good perms, bad perms, and then there was the perm to end all hope. When you introduce bangs into the equation and then perm those same bangs, you can go ahead and give up on your dreams. I gave up on any attempts at styling and just let it ride in its lifeless frizz. That is until some male classmates had a birthday dance and I decided to get beautiful. I borrowed my mom’s hot rollers and, I think you’ll agree, the result was breathtaking.
It is unclear why I was not asked to dance that night, I was spectacular in my look of full body cotton-poly blend and lace socks. My hair…still the stuff of legend.
But the perm is a cult from which I have never been reprogrammed. Despite a partial ruination of my youth, a few years ago I went back. And it worked! Until I re-permed and my hair imploded. You thought that very short haircut in the summer of 2015 was just a super sassy choice, didn’t you? Nope. That was damage control.
I am definitely going to see this film, Permanent. Afterwards I plan to call my mom and demand she donate money to my therapy fund. I will then blow whatever cash she is willing to part with on frivolous resort wear and possibly another perm.