The Curious Case of a Cut and Curl Calamity

old crone

(Here’s a shot Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man took of me when we were on vacation recently.  You can see I look very happy and rested.)

Long-time readers may recall that last year I wrote a post on my misadventures at the beauty salon called The Strange, Sad Tale of a Beauty Shop Washout.  Now in case you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s a little excerpt from that post:


She (we’ll call her Rhonda) obviously believed that the only good perm was a tight perm.  With every roller she rolled, she’d give this little yank at the end, just to make sure there was not one iota of slackness in that curl.  It hurt so much that tears sprang involuntarily to my eyes, but I just bit my lip and thought about how sometimes, we must suffer for our beauty.  And, really, all that tautness had the effect of smoothing out my wrinkles.  Why, my face hadn’t looked that tight in years!  My first facelift!

Two excruciating hours later, she was done and it was time for the big reveal.  As she started pulling out more and more of the little rollers, it became apparent to us both that something had gone terribly wrong.  There was no curl…no, not a bit.  Neither one of us said a word.  All I could think was—I do not care, just let the nerve endings in my head recuperate.  And she was probably thinking—If I don’t say anything, maybe she won’t notice. 

But there was just no denying it.  Rhonda took out the last curler and stared bleakly at my reflection in the mirror.  My hair hung lank and limp.  Finally, she spoke. “You,” she said sadly, “are curl resistant.” 

She called over the other stylists and they stood in a circle around me, shaking their heads mournfully, as though observing the scene of an accident.  “I just can’t understand it,” said Rhonda.  “I’ve never had this happen before.”

They all cast sympathetic looks her way and some of them looked accusingly at me, as though if I wanted it badly enough and if only I had lived a good life, my hair would have curled.  “Curl resistant,” they all repeated, like a chorus in some really bad opera.  “She is curl resistant.”

And now here I am over a year later and, believe it or not, my hair has not seen a perm rod or a pair of scissors since. Though it has had daily contact with a curling iron and an industrial-sized can of hair spray. Because those are the only things that can tame my wretched hair at the moment (or what’s left of my wretched hair).

You may recall that I mentioned in my previous post that “my curly perm makes me look like some refugee from the eighties.”  Well.  Now I’ve moved beyond that, I think.  Now I look more like maybe The Ghost From 80’s Past. You know, sort of like The Ghost from Christmas Past?  You can probably imagine it—a ghost crone with shoulder pads and wild eyes and long, stringy, straw-like hair (80’s music playing in the background) shaking a can of Aqua Net and saying, “Woooooo…beware this 80’s hair! It is not debonair! Beware, beware this hair!” And the ghost maybe showing scenes from Bad Haircuts and Perms Past. *Shudder*

You’re probably saying, “So what’s keeping you from getting it cut, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl? Who’s stopping you?” Well, part of it is just plain fear. You know, the shameful stigma of “curl resistance.” Will I still be curl resistant? Will I again be ostracized for curl resistance? It was a pretty traumatic thing to be surrounded by that angry mob of hair stylists fingering my limp hair and shaking their heads in disgust.

Also, it always seems a bit risky to just pick a salon right out of the yellow pages or go to one just because it’s near where you buy groceries. That’s what I did last time and you can see how well THAT worked out. I’ve asked a few folks for advice, but so far every one of them has recommended one of those fancy, high-falutin’ places in the city that maybe have French or Italian names. Or the words “day spa” in the name. I avoid those like the plague, mainly because they charge more for one visit than I budget for an entire YEAR of beauty. Sure, I could stand to spend a little more, but I’d rather buy books. I’ve found it yields a greater rate of return. Besides, they’d probably give me some weird hairdo that would make me look like Rod Stewart or something. Nothing against Rod Stewart—I just don’t want to look like him.

I always look for the kind of beauty shops I grew up with—the kind you see out in the country, maybe housed in a little shed in somebody’s back yard. You know, with names like Cathy’s Cut ‘n Curl or Barbara’s Beauty Boutique. I particularly love salon names where “K’s” are substituted for the “C’s” as in Kathy’s Kut ‘n Kurl. And of course, you know I can’t resist a pun in the name, like Shear Heaven, A Kut Above, Cut and Dried or my favorite ever, Curl Up and Dye. And there’s always the matter-of-fact, no-nonsense names like Betty’s Beauty Shop. They’re like yeah, that’s the name, I know it’s not cute—take it or leave it, lady.

But probably the real reason I haven’t gone yet is that my hair looks so bad now that I can use it as a handy excuse not to do things I’m dreading. Like going to the doctor. I avoid doctors like the plague, too, but I really do need to get that long-overdue checkup. But I can’t until I get my hair cut. And we’ve heard of a church where we might actually fit in, but we’re pretty nervous about going. Terrified, in fact. But really, I can’t go anyway  until I get my hair cut. Plus, I have two friends from the past that I haven’t talked to in years that I’d like to call. One of them lives nearby, but I’m scared of rejection—it’s been a long time and maybe they will have forgotten me. Sure, I’d call them…but I can’t until I get my hair cut.

See what I mean? It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to see that I’m using my hair as an avoidance mechanism—a convenient excuse to not do the things I really should.

Hey, maybe that’s what I need—professional help! A psychiatrist! Because I really, really want to change. Maybe I should be looking for a psychiatrist instead of a hair stylist. Maybe it’s my head and not my hair that needs help. Maybe a shrink is just what the doctor ordered.

There’s only one problem: I mean, you know how it is.  I really can’t go to a psychiatrist…

Until I get my hair cut.

18 Responses to “The Curious Case of a Cut and Curl Calamity”

  1. RED Says:


    I just recently got into the blogging world (as a reader) and came across your blog amongst my internet travels. I just wanted to let you know that this post is absolutely hilarious and totally made me laugh! It sounds dumb, but I swear I am afraid of hairdressers! I’m not all frilly and girly and so when they ask what I want and I don’t know or don’t use the proper hair terminology (or my hair is down to my waist and all I want is a trim and the lady gets an attitude about it) I feel really dumb. Until recently, when I finally found a hairdresser I like (it only took me almost 30 years haha) I probably went to the hairdresser every four years or so!

    Good luck! Rebekah

  2. Martha Says:

    Ha ha… Oh, Beth, you’ve done it again! This is absolutely hilarious. And I’m exactly the same way with my hair. I HATE going to salons. I HATE paying a lot of money for my hair. Like you, I’d rather buy books. Oh my goodness, did I laugh with the perm stuff. I had a lot of perms in my high school years in the late 70s, early 80s. The funny thing is that me and my friends did it ourselves. We gave each other perms and some of them (now that I look back) were horrible!

    Curl resistant…har har har…that was funny!

    Oh, by the way, all joking aside, I’m not sure about that curl resistant stuff. I think it has something to do with the perm solution being no good. I may be wrong, but I have a vague recollection of some such thing. One of my friends in my old city is a hairdresser; I will ask her about you and see what she says.

    Thanks for a great laugh!

  3. Betsy from Tennessee Says:

    Hi Beth, I’ve never heard of curl resistant…. Wonder if that particular perm solution was bad????? I wouldn’t go back to that place again. When I finally found a great lady to cut my hair, I had to ask a stranger in the grocery store who cut her hair (since I liked hers). I called her beautician –and have been going to her for about 2 yrs. now. You need to find a good one for you!!!!!!

    I’m like you when it comes to going to the dentist…. GADS!!!! We can go to a psychiatrist together for that one… ha ha


  4. Jayne Says:

    Now, seriously, there is nothing worse than being traumatized by a bad hair experience! I remember once going to get mine cut, and the poor girl kept clipping and clipping until I look like Joe, not Jayne, and SHE even started apologizing as she was drying what was left of my hair!! I cried for weeks! Shudder.

    So, I know how important it is to trust the person holding the scissors. I’d just ask EVERYONE I know who they go to, and then go with your gut girlfriend. Tell the person you are a recovering bad hair experience patron, and I’ll bet they’ll be extra gentle with your poor scalp.

    In the meantime, keep writing like this, and I am going to have to put on a Depends before I log into read about your adventures. Whew… I am still giggling!!

  5. Judy Says:

    Hi Beth, I remember when you wrote about your bad hair experience. This is funny to us but I know how that experience freaked you out at the time. My hair is so fine and thin I have to wear it short. I look like that lady in the photo when it is long. lol. I have found if I keep it short and use the curling iron every day, mine looks o.k. I am the opposite of you in that mine curls so much with a perm that I look like Shirley Temple with fuzz. I used to go to the really cheap places that charge like $8 for a cut but found if I went up a couple steps I get a much better cut and it is still cheap. Now, I pay about $20 for a cut and I color it myself. The color gives it some body and keeps it from being so limp all the time. That is the only reason I color it. I do tend to make excuses if my hair looks bad, too. Comes in handy sometimes!

  6. Benjamin Says:

    Hey now…if you went to church the pastor could ask everyone to lay on hands for your hair and cast out this evil CURL RESISTANCE! Haha, this is funny. All these things in life we get blamed for even though we can’t help it. All the dentists I went to would tell me vaguely to brush better (even when I had tried my hardest in between), but they would never told me what they’d found! (Was it plaque, gums bleeding…who knows???)

    Golly…good luck! And thank you as always!

  7. Sharon Says:

    What if you just stopped perming altogether, Ms. CR? Would that be so awful? That Benjamin is a stitch. Gee, I wonder where he gets it?

  8. Dr. Pun Says:

    Perhaps you are right—a good therapist (like me) might be able to help you get to the root of your permanent permanent trauma. This is certainly a hair-raising tale, but together we could comb through it, strand by strand, so that you can simply brush off any further tressful, I mean stressful, encounters. I mean, you really shouldn’t let people mess with your head.

  9. A Concerned Reader Says:

    I think Dr. Pun is a quack. Furthermore, I don’t think that’s his real name. He should call himself Dr. Quack–I suspect he would duck any questions about his real name and would probably present you with a big bill.

    And, by the way, your blog really quacks me up—it’s quite a Web feat.

  10. Ariel Says:

    Mommy, if you don’t get your hair cut soon, I’ll cut it for you in your sleep when I come home for Thanksgiving. You’ll wake up with a mohawk and think sadly to yourself, “I should have gotten my hair cut before it was too late.”

    And that is totally the best photo of you ever!!! *wink wink*

    Concerned Reader, you are a silly goose and a bird brain. Dr. Pun is the best therapist ever, and laughter is the best medicine.

  11. Dr. Pun Says:

    My dear “Concerned Reader:” I’d like to smooth your feathers by assuring you that I am not a Quack. I am certainly not some duck out of water with big bills! In fact, I just recently helped a patient who rushed into my clinic screaming that he was shrinking.

    I told him to calm down—he would just have to learn to be a little patient.

    Furthermore, I have treated the most hopeless cases. Why, just recently I treated a man who had his left side cut off!

    He all right now.

  12. eemilla Says:

    Take the plunge! I grow my hair long then go pixie then grow it out again. The best part if being able to donate it to Locks of Love, but I don’t know if they accept CR afflicted hair. Although if you follow Benjamin’s (hilarious) suggestion you might be able to donate. A more expensive hair cut is cheaper than therapy after an $8 one.

  13. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    Beth! This is hysterical! Especially how you described what happend in Mabel’s Beauty Salon, or whatever it was called, lol. You need to whip this up into an essay for a magazine. It is so good.

    I haven’t had a good haircut since my gay cousin died about fifteen years ago.

  14. wesleyjeanne Says:

    You are so funny my friend. As are your children…and the mysterious Dr. Pun.

    I only go to the hairdresser every two or three years because I have never found one who does what I want instead of what they want to do–and I am blessed with good hair (it’s my one good-looking feature). I understand your resistance to trying again. However, I have actually found a correlation between quality and cost of the the haircut *up to a point*–the cheap places do seem to do a less-than-good job. And I figure if I’m only getting it cut once a year–or even every two years–paying more for that one cut is worth it and costs about the same as if I had it cut as often as most women. Just a thought.

    You could let Ariel do it, though. Might not be much worse to have a mohawk. (Just kidding).

    Hugs to you. I so love your ability to laugh at the absurdities of life.

  15. Jeff Says:

    Oh, Lord! I laughed all the way through the tale and then some more at the comments. What fun! Concerned Reader – Web feat? Oh, my sides hurt from laughing! I do remember reading the original essay, too. This one is much funnier! I don’t blame you for not wanting to go to one of those high-falutin’ places – I don’t go there either. I go to Mary’s Clip Joint, myself. No fancy places with pretensions to superiority for me, either. Oh, by the way, would you perhaps be Dr. Pun? (wicked smile)

  16. CountryDew Says:

    Ah, a sadly funny tale from Beth. I loved it but all the while I was thinking… take a day for yourself, woman! Get some self-lovin’ goin’ on there. Take care of you!

    And then I was reminded of the Best Little Hair House in Vinton, and then of my own stylist (who does not cut hair there but elsewhere). She’s been cutting my hair for 26 years and lately seems to think that “trim it up” means “whack it all off.” I think she’s in perimenopause…

  17. colleen Says:

    Let your freak flag fly!

  18. Ginger Says:

    Still smiling! Thanks for the hilarious essay and commentary on life! I am a year and a half past my last haircut. Am also curl resistant, or at least that is what the girls told me almost 25 years ago as I left the salon wish a head full of burned up hair. We women sure are funny about our hair! Thanks again for the wonderful writing. Needed a smile!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: