S-Shaped Firecracker Wiggles

Somewhere between poise and thud I had the time to wonder, "What the heck did I slip o-" thud.

After verifying that my unexpected Sunday morning skidoo had not managed to permanently realign any bones, I tried to figure out what in the world had caused me to slip on an otherwise fairly-trusty bathroom floor. It only took me four days to spot the mess.

Ever heard of silicone serum? To those of you with short, fine, straight, or otherwise manageable hair, it's a foreign and vaguely disgusting concept. (I cannot begin to count the number of times I've been asked "You put what on your hair?") For those of us who fall - multiple times - into the latter category (known to stylists as "Oh God" hair or, more simply, as "A Challenge"), silicone serum is revered, worshiped, and hoarded.

You know the type of hair. It's on the type of woman you love to hate - the woman who has obnoxiously thick hair strands, all of which are individually wavy or curly, and a great abundance of them.

Yeah. Hi. Don't hate me because I have a hair explosion. Trust me, it's not quite so cool as you think. Ask anyone who has ever tried to braid my hair.

My hair wasn't always like this. Nobody knows what actually happened to me in the sixth grade, but I have pictures to prove it. In the fifth grade, I decided that I didn't like my stringy, dullish, stare-at-the-ceiling-and-think-of-England hair, so I got a perm.

I spent two years waiting with bated breath, wondering when the perm would go away and when my real hair would start growing back. But the straight roots never came. Eventually, I cut off what had to be the last of the permed hair, and made the only possible assumption: the chemicals in my hair had prompted a mass follicular breakdown. My hair follicles had been converted to the way of the S-shaped wiggle.

I became Triangle Head. (For the first two years after a haircut, my hair grows out, not down. Eventually it becomes so heavy that it falls down in spite of itself, and proceeds to do the S-shaped backstroke all over my head.)

Hair like mine (heavy, dense, strongly wavy, really long, and a lot of it) has two cardinal rules.

  1. If you put anything in it, it will look like crap the next day.
  2. If you do not put anything in it, you will not be able to brush it the next day.

Sure, you've all played with gel and mousse. It's fun, it works great, and the next day, your hair resembles a child's glue-and-sticks project. Now imagine this situation multiplied: someone with a lot of unruly hair. They require even more gel or mousse to receive the same effect that mortals get with just a dime- or quarter-sized dollop of styling goo.

The next-day results are magnified. You no longer have individual hair strands. You have hermetically-sealed hair clumps which cannot be broken without a) showering or b) jackhammers.

So, you say, fine. I don't want to glue all my hair strands together. I'll just wash it, condition it well, and toss it in a ponytail tomorrow instead of washing it.

Then, on morning #2 without hair-taming potions, you realize that your hair has no intention of allowing itself to be brushed. If you're lucky, you realize the gravity of the situation before your hair actually eats your brush, (I've seen many a brush meet brutal and untimely ends this way) you jump in the shower so that you can wet your hair down, condition it yet again, apologize profusely and beg forgiveness.

Then get out of the shower and try to style your hair.

A while back, Monica reminded me of the goodness of silicone. I tried it, and - wondrous to behold - not only could I brush my hair, but I could do it without pain. Better yet, my hair settled down from S-Shaped Thermonuclear Blast to ... S-Shaped Firecracker Wiggles. It's now easier to braid, stays more neatly braided when I do braid it, and best of all, I have contiguous, separable hair strands for more than twelve hours.

The bad news: guess what happens when this stuff spills on the floor. Think oil slick. Think of the disasters that would happen if you took a bottle of spray silicone and sprayed it all over your tile floor. Now imagine that this slippery stuff was completely clear, and practically invisible to the human eye.

Perhaps I should have thought about this before I left the bottle so close to the edge of the vanity. I should have had a toxic-waste cleanup plan in place before one of the cats knocked the bottle (of a clear viscous fluid that might as well be marked "Slip And Fall With Ease!") of silicone serum onto the (white) tile floor.

I had lots and lots of time to think about this between slip and thud, and even more to think about it while I tried to mop up the mess with toilet paper.

Which, I might add, does nothing but disperse the slick stuff everywhere, removing 95% of the evidence while leaving 95% of the slickness. Now, granted, the foot that stepped into the goop stayed disturbingly soft and slick for the next few hours, but that's a rather grotesque memory that I'd prefer not to revisit.

I lost the last third of my bottle to the floor, so I went out and bought another. Haven't figured out yet where I'm going to keep this one, but it'll definitely be in a place that won't turn my bathroom into a no-wheels-needed skating rink anytime soon. I've broken bones by trying to fly a kite and by falling out of bed, and just this week I managed to slice my thumb open with a butter knife. I absolutely refuse to add "broken bones caused by hair care products" to the list.

Even I have to have a little dignity.

† Speaking of conditioning it well. You know the recommendation "a quarter-sized dollop of conditioner to cover all your hair"? I always find that excruciatingly funny - after I use up the quarter-sized dollop, what am I supposed to use on the other side of my head? I won't even go into the uselessness of most conditioners. I learned in college that if I wanted to be able to brush my hair at all, I had to use the heavy-duty 'ultra' conditioners on almost a daily basis, or I could just give up on ever being able to brush my hair.

I think I was bored with short hair. I didn't have anything to complain about.


ACK! I also had a perm stay in for close to 2 years, but it didn't turn into S-shaped anything after the perm finally wore off. I just keep my hair braided (and will soon be getting it cut & sent off to Locks of Love once I get enough courage to MAKE the darn appointment). I'm thankful I'm bored with my hair after reading this post!

Amy, why don't you knit a bottle coozie? Then if the mess breaks, it stays easily contained in its very own absorbent net!

I did the perm thing too.. twice.. each time I ended up cutting the last of it out after about a year of growing, and each time I ended up with poodlehead for about the first 10 months then 2 months of half being able to deal with it. Each time I swore I'd never do that again. And I just got a new bottle of "smoothing milk" which is basically the same thing as your serum (I have that too but can't manage to put in enough to look nice without making my hair look like a greased rag).

Well since Im a guy I've never had the good fortune to get, or need a perm. I used to always buzz my hair short. It was great, never had to do anything with it and you had your own air conditioning in the summer! Well, sadly girls think I look better with it grown out and jelled so I've down that. I hate it. If I get a shower at night (which I generally do) I wake up in the morning with the majority of the hair matted down except one section that WILL NOT LAY DOWN whether I use gel, water, napalm, whatever on it. I generally just give up and take another shower. Sorry Greenpeace...I know Im killing the planet.

I just got my hair hacked off, thus begining another couple of years of hair growing again. How long is yours now? Cheers,

I have almost the same kind of hair. It is impossibly long, thick,, curly, wavy. I use a handful of conditioner... on the back, then some more on the top and front. Then rinse, and use Slip Aussie detangler. Lately I have been using V05 in the tube on my wet hair - doesn's cause the damage that silicone seems to. I change products often and am always looking for something that works. Try to go to a salon with our hair, and sometimes they won't do it, or charge you more, or roll their eyes, and whine. The best salons for our hair is ethnic or black salons. They have no problems with it, and do a great job! Try it sometime. As I have developed haircutaphobia I have almost waist long hair now...yikes!

LOL. :)

Oh dear, I feel your pain. My hair is exactly like yours, though not as a result of a perm, it always has been. A recent hairdresser cut it into a style that simply must be blowdried to look good and then my hairdryer exploded. Now I wear headscrarves a lot. I used to love Frizz Ease.

You should try using “black” hair care products. Also try a “black” salon. My salon is always packed with caucasian women who now swear that they will only go to “black” salons and use black hair care products. Trust me your hair has nothing on mine.