My Banana Clip

banana-clip

It was a Wednesday morning about 10.  I had an hour to kill before I had to be at my next meeting.  I have not shaved the beard I grew in November for the play we were in.  Two people at work told me they like it.  That’s all the encouragement I need!  My cheeks will never feel the stroke of a razor again.

The problem was my hair was getting a bit squirrely too.  A friend walked into the coffee shop where I was meeting with a co-worker and said I looked like the Unibomber.  Now, this dude shaves from his adam’s apple to the nape of his neck so he clearly prefers the bowling ball look, but I knew he had a point.

I drove across the street to a Wing Cuts or Great Chops or whatever the $12.95 hairdo place was located.  To my dismay, it was closed.  Like, out of business closed, so I needed another option.  Alas, I remembered that there was a shop of some sort beside the fast food Japanese restaurant the girls and I frequent right around the corner.  Maybe I’d be able to smell the Teryaki Chicken while in the chair.

When I drove up, I was a bit intimidated.  It looked more like a salon than a Sports Clips.  It was called E.A. Wells Hair Design.  Fancy schmancy!  I wasn’t sure they would take me cause I wasn’t sure I had enough on the top of my head to design anything.  But Abbey greeted me with such enthusiasm, I figured I’d give it a go.

She escorted me to the back of the shop and sat me in a chair which was attached to a sink.  It reclined and at the top had a scoop cut out of the ceramic where you rested your neck.  My head just dangled about in the burgundy bowl.

Homegirl scrubbed my scalp like I was her dog.  She’d put some product of some sort on my head and just go to town.  She’d rinse and repeat.  She did that like four times.  My head must have been way, way dirty.  And she didn’t even get my clothes wet!

Man did it feel good.  I was gonna ask her to marry me, I mean the stuff she was doing was very personal.  Hmmm.  Perhaps I could just hire her to wash my hair on a daily basis.  Do people do that?

She asked me how I wanted my hair cut.  I told her the regular way.

She told me she was going to give me some style.

I’m not sure if she did.  But it was a nice haircut.  The only problem is that my bangs, the hair in the front, are really, really long.  This morning, on the way to church, I had to put them in a small banana clip to try to get my hair to dry in the away position rather than in my right eyeball.  As I walked down Morgan Street from the parking deck on our way to the sanctuary, I realized I had not removed the fastener from my head.  Stephanie was walking beside me, and we were having a conversation.

“Did you not realize the clip was still in my hair?” I asked.

“Yeah.  I sort of did,” she responded.

Did she just not put together that I don’t typically wear my hair in a partial ponytail or did she actually want me to walk into church looking like a 1980’s sorority girl?

Regardless, I now have a style, and I think I’ll go back because it was only $9 more than Supercuts.  And because Abbey has magic fingers.

One Side High; One Side Low

When the girls and I were in the play A Christmas Carol this year, we met a man who owns a hair cut place.  Actually, I guess it is a salon.  The guy looks like Santa Claus and, from his stylish manner, I’m guessing he’s pretty good at what he does.

DJ found out he owned a salon week 2 of rehearsals.  That is when she began haranguing me.

“Dad.  I’m going to get my hair cut at Michael’s.”

“Michael, DJ wants you to cut her hair.  How much is it gonna cost?”

That mug told me it was gonna be like $60 – and don’t be fooled, there’s a tip on top of that!  So, say $61 total.  A lot of money for your hair, that just sits on your head, doin’ nothing else.  I told her she could do it once but not to think it was going to be a habit – like her grandma who has had a wash and set every Friday since 1955.

And I, with a head full of handsome locks, headed down to Supercuts right after the play to get my quarterly quaff.  I think I got someone new.  I’d never seen her before.  I sat in her chair.

“And what can I do for you today?”

“Just trim it up, over the ears, leave a little more on the top.”

“Clippers or scissor?”

“Clippers, 5 guard.”  I love that I can remember that.

I then relaxed, occasionally closing my eyes while pretending I was getting a head message at the Synergy spa near my house.

I paid her ($17 with tip) and got in the car.

As I glanced in the rear view mirror, I took a double take.

On the right side of my head, the hair above my ear skirted the edge of my cartilage.  On the left side of my head, homegirl had left me a 1/8 inch border around my ear.  It was like one side of a street with curbing and the other where the grass from the yards was actually growing into the asphalt.

Although I prefer my grass grow all the way to the road, I am not fully opposed to curbing.  But I do prefer that the same street decorum is used on both sides.

I was lopsided.  Hippied on the right, scalped on the left.

This did bother me, however, not enough to change my hair designer.  I mean, I could have gone back to Supercuts four times and paid them to try to fix my head for the same amount it would have cost me to go to Michael once.  And furthermore, at least 7 out of ten cuts are ON THE MONEY.

And the best part of all of this?  Hair grows back.  So ten days into my new doo, I was golden.  And I just strived to face people at a slant for a couple of weeks so they couldn’t see both sides of my head.

Must have worked, no one said a thing about my imbalance.

Eyebrows 101

Now that's an eyebrow job

Now that’s an eyebrow job

My middle kid is beginning to think a bit less about hoola hooping and a bit more about looking pretty.  She asked for a hair straightener for Christmas.  It’s basically an iron – I use it on my shirts sometimes.  I’m afraid of it.  It’ll burn the crap out of you.  And where do you use it?  Right near your head and face.  I wouldn’t use a chain saw to cut my hair.  Why use an iron to straighten it?  Dan-ger-ous!

Recently, we were at Belk and went to their glass eyebrow closet.  Very, very interesting.

We thought it might be time to shape up the little devils.  I decided I’d watch carefully so that I could do them next time and save $20.  If I have to fund six ten-dollar brows a month for the next decade, that’s $7,200.  I wonder if we let them grow together in the middle if she’d just charge me for one.  Oh, and you gotta leave a tip.  Maybe they could rotate months – left brow on the evens and right on the odds.

Stephanie sat on a tall pink stool while the lady inspected her face with a big magnifying mirror.  Why would anyone look at their face with a mirror like this?  It accentuates your ugly.  I held it up to my eyeball, and it scared me to death.  My eye looked like Uncle Festus from the Adams Family.  Huge dark circles helped frame the droopy bags.  There is skin resting on the top of my eyelid.  It serves no purpose.  What’s it doing there?  It looked like you could have stored my spare change in the pores.  Don’t look in those mirrors.  A glance in a full length on the way out of the door is as close as a 47-year-old should get to their own reflection.  I look much better from a distance.

The clinician then used Stuart Little’s comb  and scissors to trim Steph’s brows.  It was like a mini  Supercuts.  I told her to take plenty off the sides but to leave enough in the front for a solid part.  I could do that; it didn’t look very hard.

The woman then pulled out a honey jar full of hot tan wax.  She slopped a blob above Stephanie’s left eyebrow.  When I was a kid, I loved hot wax.  I couldn’t wait until the Christmas Eve service at church.  Excited about Jesus’ birthday?  Nah.  I was pumped that we got to hold lit candles and drip the wax on our hands.  My brother and I would turn the candle on its side and wax the inside of our palms.  It was painful but in a good sort of way.  My late night church services and shoving my hands in my mom’s candles after a dinner party would surely be enough experience for me to take on this task in the future.

“This might sting a bit,” our Belk employee warned.  She grabbed the end of the wax and RRRRRIIIP!  Those little hairs didn’t have a chance.

I think my girls are beautiful with or without eyebrows.  But if they want to spiffy them up, I’m game.  Gonna dig in the church supply closet on Sunday to find the box marked Christmas candles.  Once I find them, we’re good to go!

My Strategic Savings Plan

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?”

Blank stare.

“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.

Hcnerf on Stephanie, by Danny

Hcnerf on Stephanie, by Danny

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.

More Questions for Dad

This Christmas season has brought about more questions than answers.  One would think that with time I’d be more up to speed on girls, teens, and young ladies.  But the longer I live without a woman as my guide, the more I just do not understand.

Help!

*Why do you need regular bras and sports bras?  Is it not like boxers or briefs?  Make up your mind and stick to it girls!  They don’t even play sports –

*And what’s up with the ones that just stick to your bosom?  It’s peel and stick – like a “To/From” tag on your Christmas present.  What good does that do?  How can that help?  Why do we need those?

*Any why do they wear out so quickly?  I was told recently that two bras in this house “died.”  Should we have a service?  Are they just pulling my strings?  I have boxers I’ve worn for twenty years.  They may sag a bit, but who cares?  That just makes them more comfortable.  No one sees them but me.  A nd that’d better be the case for them too!

*When should a girl be allowed to wear mascara?  Stephanie and Michelle put some on when they got dressed in their costumes for the play.  It must have been Maybelline’s “new volume” brand cause they looked like a tarantula had been emblazoned on their eyelids.

*That same night I learned that soap will not remove mascara and that turpentine hurts when it gets in your eyes.  That’s what I use when stuff won’t come off.  Is there a chisel to remove that stuff?

*Why is it that I can’t get the girls to press their clothes and yet they’ll spend hours on end ironing their hair?  Yes!  They iron their hair.  Not with like an ironing board – its with a $100 mechanism that cooks stuff on both sides – sort of like a waffle maker but without the little sqaures.  I’m tempted to use it for grilled cheese sandwiches.

*And the one with the curls desperately wants hers straight.  And the one with the straight hair is looking for curly.  Why didn’t God just give them what they wanted from the get go?  Some cruel joke.

*Someone recently gave me the name of a woman to see if the girls had “skincare” needs.  Their skin looks alright to me, I specifically looked.  I mean, I buy them soap and Target brand lotion – what more is there to the care of their skin?  I guess I could buy cucumbers – I think Mommy Dearest used them on her eyes.  Maybe they need a mud mask.  I have dirt in the storage room…hum.  I fear my inaction is gonna cause wrinkles or those brown spots my grandma had when Mary Kay was washed off.

*They all want their own stuff, why can’t they just share?  Do we really need more than one brush?  I remember Lisa freaked out when I ran out of deodorant and began using hers.  I sort of liked it – thought of her every time I raised my arms.  This must be related.  I think its selfish.

I just don’t want to screw up; I don’t want to do anything wrong.  And sometimes I think they’re just yanking my chain.  There are so many things I just don’t understand.

Another Year, Another Wrinkle

I’ve got a birthday this week.  I turn 47.  And yet I don’t feel a day over 46.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what in the hell happened?

Since when did my hair turn white?  Not only on my sideburns and around my temples, but the stuff is taking over my chest.  Out with the brown, in with the gray!

It’s like old man kudzu.  And I’m not excited about where it might appear next.

The older I get, the more grooming I do.  As if showering and shaving isn’t enough every day, I now have to hunt for rogue hair all about my being.

Oh there’s a thatch growing out of my nostril.  A pompom of fuzz protruding from my ear canal.  And the one, only one, standing fully erect right on the top of my left shoulder-blade.

My eyebrows remind me of the fringe on my grandma’s handmade afghans.  I could serve spinach dip out of the crevices in my forehead.  Not only do I need glasses to read the menu at a restaurant, I also can’t see my food without them.  Imagine my surprise when the blurry “carrots” I bit into turned out to be rutabaga.  YUCK.

My grandfather, Woodrow, had a forehead the size of Montana.  And as Spurgeon, the other, added years to his life, his ears expanded like a Magic Towel wash cloth.  What a future.

I pee all the time, and there’s a 3″ x 3″ patch of skin on my back that’s as dry as a bone.  “Oooooo Dad!  What is that?  Scabies?”

“No!  It’s not scabies!!  It’s dry skin – it’s called eczema.”

“You need to get that checked out.  It’s gross.”

My girls are outstanding at pointing out all my flaws.

“You’re belly is jiggly!”  “You have warts on your feet.”  “I didn’t know you could get pimples at such an old age.”

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to develop a strong self-esteem before I had girls nearing the teenage years.

They haven’t discovered the vein that’s popping out around my right ankle although they relish the opportunity to discuss the volume of lint that collects in my bellybutton.  “Pull it out dad, I need a new scarf for winter.”

Where does that stuff come from and why is it in my navel?  I feel like a dryer.

I’m like an old house that needs major repairs.  I’m just not sure I could recoup the investment.

Straight or Curly?

Posted by Danny

Target run today.  Happens about four times each week at $100 a pop.

Our primary purpose for heading to our favorite shopping venue was to purchase hair products for DJ.  Apparently, she is out of all the items that she needs to tame her curly quaff.

I don’t really understand girl hair.  I use Suave – it cost $1.79.  That’s it.  If I run out of shampoo, I use soap.  If it’s good enough for the hair under my arms, I don’t see why it can’t do the job on my head.

So DJ headed to the hair product isle while I nabbed a large container of liquid Up and Up laundry detergent.  When I got back to the hygiene area, I realized DJ had gone back to the front of the store to get a handheld shopping basket.  I wondered why she felt she needed assistance carrying a bottle of shampoo to the register. 

And then I found out.

First she picked out shampoo – it was not Suave.  It cost over $5, and it didn’t even have the conditioner built-in.  “Why don’t you buy this 2 in 1 – the shampoo and conditioner are baked in there together and it’s only $2.99.”

“Dad.  That stuff doesn’t work.  It’s cheap.”

“It works on my hair.”

“Look at yourself.”

Her second purchase was indeed conditioner.  The same kind her mother used.  Another $5.  But it does smell good.

I began doing curls with the laundry detergent, I used to use cans of baked beans to workout.  This was an improvement.

  I could tell this wasn’t going to be a quick trip.  1 – 2 – 3 – 4…

“DJ, what are you looking for?”

“Something to defrizz my hair.”

“I sort of like it curly.”

“Curly and frizzy are two different things Dad.  Why are you exercising in Target with laundry detergent?  Seriously?”

“I’m bored.  Can I help you?  What’s that bottle for?”

“It holds the curls in place.”

“The defrizzy ones?”

“Yes.”

“How many products do you use on your head?”

“Usually four.”

“If you continue to put four bottles full of chemicals in your hair every day, you’re not going to have hair.  Do you think your sisters are going to do the same when they get older?”

“Probably.”

“I’m going to have to sell the car to pay for your hair.  Do you mind riding the city bus to Target.”

“I like buses.”

“Are you buying a comb?”

“Yep.  Brushes make your hair frizz more.”

“I used to carry a comb in my back pocket – right there with my wallet.”

“That’s weird.”

“All the guys had them.  I work with a guy who still does.  Combs his hair every time he walks into the office.”

“Still weird.”

“Why do you own both a curling iron and a flat-iron?  I’d think you’d need one or the other.  If you want part curly and part straight, just straighten the part you don’t want curly.”

“Didn’t mom used to call you a moron?”

“Sometimes.”

“She was right.”

When we got to the checkout counter, the cashier announced the total:  $80 and change. 

“About half of this is hair stuff.”

“I have a lot of hair.”

And so the story goes.

Straight

Curly

 

It Comes with Age

Posted by Danny

I’m getting older – a  birthday coming up this week.  In ways its difficult to believe I’ll be 46.  But at times it feels like I’m 78.  The changes in my hair are an indicator of my movement toward the AARP.

The most random hairs are popping up in the most unusual places around my being.  These aren’t normal hairs.  These are hairs on steroids!

They’re hanging out of my nose.  They’re poking out of and growing around the outside of my ears, one random piece at a time.  One day I found a rogue brow hanging down into my eye.  I discovered it when I thought I had a piece of dust in my eyeball.  But it was not dirt.  A strand from my eyebrow curled across my lid, through my lash and was resting on my cornea.  His lone brother was growing out of a pore on my left shoulder.   

When one pops up in my nose, I know I have to trim.  I’ve not had luck with my blunt end scissors – they can’t cut butter and the thicker ends won’t easily fit into my nostril.  Sticking a sharp pair of scissors into my nasal passage freaks me out!  I’m afraid a kid is going to run into the room, bump up against me and the blade is going to get shoved up into my cerebrum.

So, I shut and lock the bathroom door and pray that there won’t be an earthquake during my olfactory organ grooming session.

The grays are becoming more and more apparent, especially on my sideburns (the fact that I still think sideburns look cool is yet another indicator of my destiny).

This summer while on the beach, I noticed that about 25% of the hair on my chest weren’t brown – I feel like a silverback gorilla – except in the front.

I’m having to get up 8 minutes early each day to make sure I’m all cleaned up.  It’s like checking for ticks.  In a few years, I’m going to look like Cousin It. 

It’s as if I am taking hair fertilizer.  Do they sneak that in the aspirin I ingest each morning to ensure that I don’t have a stroke?  I guess if my body gets covered with hair I’ll be warmer.  My circulation is slowing down so that could come in handy.

Curly Brush?

Posted by Danny

The last few years of her life, Lisa had her hair done by a guy named Chris.  She said he could work wonders.  I remember her coming home and me saying “How’d he make your hair look like that?”  Looking back on it, I can see how that might have come across as your hair doesn’t usually look that great, although that is not necessarily what I meant.  He could just take an A and make it an A+!

One time she left home with fairly big hair.  When she returned, it was short and straight.  Again I questioned, “Are you wearing a wig?”

“No.”

“How’d he do that?”

“He put some expensive product in my hair and took a big round brush and blew dry it straight.”

“Can you do that?”

“Not like him.”

“Could I help you?”

“Seriously?  You’re going to do my hair?”

She never took me up on my offer and I actually preferred her hair more flowy, but the change was nice for a while.

Last week Stephanie’s Nana took her to get a haircut.  They decided to go with a shorter look and it is really, really cute.  It’s sort of “stacked” on the back and drapes longer in the front. 

But a strange thing happened one day about a week later.  On this particular day, the top layer of her hair seemed to rebel.  It grew bigger and didn’t seem to be in sync with the bottom layer. 

I’m not really sure what happened, and it didn’t seem to be a consistent phenomena.  My hair and Jesse’s hair seems to be fairly consistent.  It looks the same at 8 am and at 8 pm.  Our hair is similar in winter, spring, summer and fall – rain, sleet or snow.  But the girls’ hair has personality; sort of moody, like a child. 

DJ told me that if she brushed her hair when it was in curly mode she’d look like a lion.  I haven’t seen that but I’d like to. 

As I ran my fingers through Stephanie’s disobedient hair, the thought of Chris and his round hairbrush came to mind. 

“Steph, we’re gonna try something.  Do we have a hair dryer?”

“What are you doing dad?”

“Just trust me.”

“With my hair?”

“Yep.”

“DJ!  Do you have that stuff to make your hair calm?”

“I think I’m out.”

“Well look.  We’re trying an experiment on Stephanie’s hair.”

“As long as it’s hers.”

“Found some.”

“Do you have a round brush?”

“Yep.”

I collected my tools and we headed to the bathroom.  I scooped out some hair goop.

“That stuff makes my hair stiff,” Stephanie complained.

“It’s magic baby.  Magic!”

It took both hands to get the hair around the brush so I had to hold the dryer under my neck.  It was a little uncomfortable, but we made do.

After just 10 minutes, her hair was dry and every strand was in place.  She went to bed and I held my breath:  what would tomorrow bring?

When she woke, to our amazement, her hair was calm, cool and collected – following all of the rules.   No frizz in sight!  The top layer embracing the bottom layer is if they were identical twins.

Where ever you are Chris, I thank you!  Another tool in our toolbox if needed.