The very first blog post I wrote over two years ago was about learning to braid hair. It took Stephanie and me thirty minutes to pull off one small strand on the side of Michelle’s head.
I was so proud!
But now, now I’ve learned to French braid! And not only regular French braid, but reverse French braid. I call it Hcnerf (Huk – nurf).
Two weeks ago, Stephanie walked in the kitchen with a head of wet hair. “Dad, can you do the Katniss braid?”
“The cat nip braid? What are you talking about?”
“No. Katniss from The Hunger Games. It’s a reverse French braid.”
“The backward French braid? Oh, you mean the Hcnerf?”
“Anyway, no. I can’t do a forward French braid, much less a reverse French braid.”
“Will you try? I can tell you how.”
I’ve found that braiding hair is sort of like juggling: two hands, three clumps of hair. It’s more difficult than riding a unicycle while tossing bone china in the air.
For those who want to learn, here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Grab three independent clumps of hair from the front of the head.
Step 2: Hold two clumps in one hand but keep them separate, they CANNOT intermingle. Hold the third clump in the other hand.
Step 3: Take the clump furthest to the left and tuck it under the middle clump.
Step 4: Look for some random hair on the right side of the head. Just a little. Pick it up. Incorporate it into the original right clump while still independently maintaining full control of the middle and left clumps. Then tuck the new right clump (original plus the small random piece) under the new middle piece (which used to be the left piece).
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 on the left side of the head.
Step 6: Continue doing Steps 4 and 5, adding little bits of hair each time.
When you get to the top of the neck, or when two hours have passed, whichever comes first, combine all clumps of hair into one mumbo clump. Pray to the good lord above that you remembered to grab a rubber band and that it is within arm’s reach.
Now for the hard part. Hold the clump in one hand while you twist the rubber band around the bottom of the braid. Do this until your child screams in pain.
Take a quick picture before your kid moves her head, and the entire thing falls out.
My dad used to give my mom a permanent in our kitchen. He did this because we were poor. I don’t know why they call it a permanent because it isn’t. It should be called a temporary. Right after the procedure, my mom’s hair would be tight as a tick, boofed up like John Travolta’s doo in the movie Hairspray. Four weeks later she’d look like Squeaky Fromme.
When my dad gave my mom this treatment, our house smelled like a combination of formaldehyde and a nuclear reactor leak. If I took a deep breath, it would burn the hair out of my nostrils and my lungs would sting deep down inside. And when it was over, my mom would feed us in the same room. Meatloaf with a chemical aftertaste, mmmm.
It’s a wonder I don’t have seven toes.
Lisa would not let me do her hair. “Chris” did it. I never met him but given the choice of me or him moving from Raleigh, I’m not sure which she would have chosen. I don’t know how much it cost to dye her hair, but I know it was well over $100, and it seemed like she went once a week. I tried to convince her that gray hair was sexy. She disagreed. If I would have taken over Chris’ responsibilities, like my dad did, we could have purchased a beach house with the savings.
Fortunately, I’m building trust with my daughters. I have a plan. It starts with braiding. Before you know it, I’ll be giving them a wash and set, maybe even highlights right in the kitchen. With the money I’ll save, I’ll send them to college. Thank goodness permanents are not in style.