June 20, 2022

the time when my dad saved me by introducing me to Carla

Seeing as I usually post on Mondays and Wednesdays, I'm behind in my Father's Day thoughts. I read Ally Bean's post last week and after I commented I thought, THIS IS A STORY I'D LIKE TO SHARE ON MY BLOG. 

*Ally - I apologize for the repeat, although the version I left in your comments is the bare bones. 

The tale starts out with bad hair, as most stories from way-back do. Mom, as you may recall, was obsessed with short hair for her girls. A professional at an actual salon styled me in a Dorothy Hamill in '75 or '76. After that, Mom cut my hair herself. She was as untrained as I am at treating Coach's physical therapy patients. If push came to shove, I'd do my best at faking what exercises his patients needed. Mom did her best at faking our haircuts, too. 

Her method didn't differ much from how she butchered cut my brothers' hair, but they were boys and their hair was as forgiving as the world tends to be to little boy hair. She used a straight edge razor blade to 'feather' our hair. As the victim customer, it felt like she was tearing at my hair. Anyway, it was all part of the master plan:  stick to the budget. 

Fast forward to high school. I'd hated my short hair for years. Mom had always told me that not everyone was capable of wearing their hair long. Every time I started to avoid getting a hair cut, my hair would grow out more than down. My hair had body. Of course this doesn't mean you can't have long hair. I'm guessing that no one ever told Julia Roberts in the 80s that she couldn't have long, big hair and look how it turned out for her. Mom would always convince me to get it cut by bribing or begging or shaming me.

Well, not ANYTHING in my hair.
(photo compliments of Tenor)
Finally, sophomore year in high school I opted to ignore her comments and began to grow my hair long. I was desperately in need of product, but I was clueless that putting moose or gel or ANYTHING in my hair was going to make it look less like a bale of hay. 

While my two sisters were away at college, my folks took my two brothers and I on vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee over spring break in 1987. On our drive back to Chicago, we stopped in South Bend so Mom could attend the Mom's Weekend. 

While Mom was busy at functions with my sister, Dad took me to the student center. Sitting in a booth, he instructed me to check out hair styles, and pick one. Then he selected a salon out of the phone book and drove me there. He walked me in and then he waited in the car.

A sweet woman named Carla took care of me. She was VERY short and so kind. She essentially gave me a pageboy. Because my hair was incredibly dry, she suggested that I wet my hair with hot water, rub mayonnaise in it, and cover it with a hot towel and a plastic bag once a month. Life changing. My hair was thrilled with the moisture and my self esteem nudged up in the right direction with my new hairdo.

I still remember how embarrassed I was when I realized that I was supposed to give Carla a tip. It was the first time I'd done anything like that solo and Dad didn't explain to me that I needed to tip her. We looked up the salon in the phone book once we were home, and I mailed Carla a note and a few dollars. 

This encounter with Dad always makes me smile, and wonder. His job stressed him out a great deal. Our bank balance caused him to worry. He lived in fear of being laid off, because of the economy. He was happiest when listening to Irish music or attending my brothers' sporting events. Usually Mom was the 'tuned in' parent. It strikes me as very sweet that he not only noticed what I needed, but that he swooped in and helped me when things got hairy. Couldn't resist.  

I'm blessed that my parents are still living. Dad is 82. I haven't asked him for hair advice in a long time. 

Anyone else have a story of when your dad surprised you by tuning in? Anyone need to rebel to achieve the hair that you liked? Anyone else pout as a teen because their folks drove to a place like Tennessee instead of driving a bit further to go somewhere sunny for spring break? (I'm raising my hand here, guilty of bad hair and a bad vacation attitude). 

Coming soon: last week's drama, actually it was all on Wednesday. A scary mom moment. 


Nicole MacPherson said...

What a nice story about your dad! It sounds like a really sweet thing to do. I also had short hair for a lot of my life as my mom always told me I had "terrible hair" which is probably why as an adult I'm pretty obsessed with its maintenance. Oh, childhood, the things it does to us. I have also done the mayonnaise trick back in my youth, and remember those VO5 hot oil treatments? I haven't done that in years but I remember it well.

ccr in MA said...

Aw, I really like your dad doing this! Nice one, dad. My mom was the opposite when I was a kid, she didn't want me to cut my hair. But it did happen eventually, and I haven't had long hair in forever.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I LOVE this story about your dad; he's redeemed himself to me today. :) It still irks the heck out of me that your Mom wouldn't let you decide on your OWN hairstyle as a teen.

I started high school looking like an 11-year-old boy after my Grandma had her neighbor cut my hair that summer. *sigh* My grandma thought all women should have short hair and her neighbor did a number on me. Add the bad haircut to me being 4'11, 80lbs, and flat-chested. JOY

Ernie said...

Nicole - It was a sweet thing for him to do. Not his usual thing to take notice of. I do remember the VO5 hot oil treatments, but I only did the cheap mayonnaise. I had honestly forgotten about the mayo treatments until I ran into my sister Marie's old college roommate when I dropped off Tank at college. She was dropping off a kid too. She remembered being at my house when I put mayo in my hair.

Yes, childhood and the lingering issues. Some funnier than others.

Ernie said...

ccr - Yep, I give my dad credit for salvaging my high school experience here. When is it not about the hair? We needed to cross my mom with yours and get a nice hybrid experience. ;)

Ernie said...

Suz -Yes, thank goodness for my dad coming to the rescue. So out of character for him to have a conversation about hair, let alone hunt down a salon in a different town.

My mom didn't let me decided diddly squat in high school, the hair was just the tip of the ice burg. I do think it is amazing that we all turned out relatively normal, we have our quirks - like a super controlling sister and a sister who is 53 going on 80. I guess I should rephrase and say I'm glad that I TURNED OUT NORMAL. Right?

Oh, you were so tiny. Even with the haircut, I'm guessing you were super cute. I do get that you probably didn't look old enough to be in high school though. If I didn't have to wear a uniform skirt, I'm guessing I would've occasionally been redirected to the boys' side of the school (boys in one half of the building, girls in the other half).

Kari said...

I love this story about your Dad. I would pay to see those pictures of you and those haircuts. :)

Kara said...

My parents were the opposite. Long hair for girls. In braids until I was in 5th grade, almost to my knees out of braids. Then, sophomore year of high school, I cut it to the middle of my back. You would have thought I murdered someone. But, they did get over it. I've had all sorts of hair since then.

Beth Cotell said...

How sweet (and out of character) for your dad! Sometimes you need to save money, but other times, you need a professional!

Years ago, when Dan still had a bit of hair left, he wanted me to cut it for him. He always gets a bald fade at least I think that's what it was called. But I never could get it right and he looked ridiculous and finally we just shaved it all very very short. That looked ridiculous too. I convinced him that he really just needed to suck it up and pay a professional!

Gigi said...

Yay Dad!!

Of course I had AWFUL hair in middle school. Product didn't exist nor did hair dryers or curling irons (at least, in my world they didn't) until I hit high school. You know how frizzy and wild Hermione's hair is in the Harry Potter series? My hair was that...but on steroids.

Ernie said...

Kari - It is a sweet story. I remember it felt so strange to have him focus on me like that. Careful what you wish for . . . I might have to dig up some photos for you. Of course back then it wasn't like we took photos of our every move, but I could pinpoint the timeframe between hay hair and better hair.

Ernie said...

Kara - I'm blown away - SUCH long hair that it was almost down to your knees out of braids? Stop it. Why the extremes? If we could've just combined my folks and yours, that would've been bliss.

Ernie said...

Beth - It was out of character for him. Such a great memory. The no-tipping part still makes me cringe especially since she was so good to me. I also remember being in the salon and feeling like the other hair stylists were sneering at her and not friendly to her, ie, when she needed the sink or towels, etc. I was like SAME, I FEEL YA SISTER. I GET SNEERED AT TOO.

The story of Dan's hair is cracking me up. When Lad was almost due, I cut Coach's hair. I always cut his hair with a clippers. We went out with friends and he had a few drinks. He decided LATE that night after we got back that I'd missed a spot. So, he 'handled' it. Well, his hair was beyond short. He looked so dumb. He has let me handle it ever since.

Ernie said...

Gigi - Yes, score one big point for my dad.

Oh, I hear you. It wasn't until I was a senior in high school that I learned about product. I showed up to homeroom with damp hair. A girl looked at me (her last name was Greene and for the life of me I can't remember her first name) and was like OH, YOU JUST NEED SOME MOOSE. I was like, HUH? She showed me the light.

Pat Birnie said...

What a sweet, kind thing for your dad to do for you. My mother also made all 4 of her daughters have “pixie cuts” when we were young. She thought they were so cute - we all hated them (but it was also easier for her to care for as a busy mom). The last time she forced this I was in 7th grade, & I remember a boy commenting that my hair was shorter than his. I was so distraught that she gave in and let it grow after that. I guess she realized I could look after it on my own.

Jenny in WV said...

I've never had a haircut I didn't regret. Last fall I went to a Super Cuts with a picture of what I wanted and it did no come out super. I ended up with a bunch of layers I didn't want. I didn't realize how bad it was until the next day when I washed, dried and attempted to style my hair for church. I cried and was super stressed out. Went to Penney's that afternoon to have it fixed. The only way to fix the layers was to cut them off, but I was so happy the have them gone, I tipped 50%. Currently growing my hair out and saying "I'm never getting another haircut!" We'll have to see how long that plan lasts. lol

Unrelated to hair, I finally had the change to try a cake from Nothing Bundt Cake. It was fabulous!

Colleen said...

I just can't get over the mayo trick! Lovely sweet father daughter memory :)

Ally Bean said...

Your father's kindness regarding your hair dilemma is about the sweetest thing I've read in ages. I had crazy wild hair and my mother's solution, like your mother's, was to chop it off. But he was paying attention to you and that's a good memory. I knew about the mayo trick and did that when I was teenager. I'm glad you tipped Carla after the fact. That makes this story perfect. Thanks for sharing it here.

Also, thanks for connecting to me. I appreciate it.

Ernie said...

Pat - Oh how my mom likes a pixie. To this day, my sisters both have short hair. Another sign that they drink the Kool Aid. What my mom likes, my mom gets. If I had a dime for every time someone asked me if I was a boy or a girl when I was in grade school. Unfortunately those comments didn't register as time to let her grow her hair with my mom.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Oh, no. A haircut that makes you cry is not a good haircut. Please keep us posted as to how long your decision to never get another haircut again lasts.

I'm so happy to hear that you've sampled the deliciousness of Nothing Bundt Cakes. Dreamy.

Ernie said...

Colleen - Mayo was a weird trick, cheaper than other intensive conditioning items. I'd completely forgotten about it. Mayo in the bathroom, strange. It is a great memory of my dad.

Ernie said...

Ally - Yes, chopping hair off was the way to go, simple. Oh how I loathed long hair. Mini looks back at the few times I cut her hair into a bob and says she didn't like it, but at the time she hated getting her hair brushed and she claimed to be thrilled with it. It is a sweet memory of my dad. Sort of unexpected for my anguish to resonate with him, but how great that it did. Carla worked for that tip and I was very upset when I realized that I had screwed that up.

Back in my early blog days, I wouldn't have known a thing about connecting. Thrilled to be able to connect with you.