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In grade two , at the age of eight , I received , courtesy of Mum , the first of three 'permanents' that I have had in my whole 60 years of life .
It was a home perm that had enough ammonia in it to peel paint . What it did to my hair turned me off hairdressers and hairdressing for years.
The curls were so tight that they were like springs that resisted caresses and combs alike . Everything bounced off . I must say , I did sleep well on it . A little extra loft on the pillow .
I really did not know what it looked like since the mirror over the wash basin was too high for a peek . Dad had screwed the frame to the wall so it would not fall off when a freight train passed the house .So it couldn't be taken down to my height. No one offered to lift me up .
But the praises of Mum and Aunt Marie convinced me that I was beautiful . Somehow , I missed the huge grins on their faces as something more than expressions of pleasure at my beauty ...or the fact that I was a test subject before attempting it on each other .
It was not until I arrived at school the following morning , that the impact of my 'do' richocheted against my vanity . Great guffaws and finger pointing , combined with teasing and hair pulling (tight curls have great entertainment value), had ME totally devastated before I got into the classroom .
The teacher grinned from ear to ear when she saw me . She did have enough manners to resist negative responses , and she did admonish the others for the verbal remarks and laughter . But she made no positive statement to me . She threw me no lifeline . I guess she didn't want to lie ...you know the adage 'If you can't say anything nice etc etc'. Her silence was an anchor to the bottom .
I tried to keep a low profile all day . Hiding where possible at recess and not participating in class . After a full day of pot shots and pulls , I made it home thoroughly destroyed , my 'do' askew . It had also managed to pick up several pieces of lint and a dust bunny or two from behind the classroom door . Another characteristic of tight curls .
When I arrived home , I went right to the wash basin and stuck my head into the water in an effort to remove the offending curls and some of the day's hurt . No go! I found out what permanent meant . I also found out that I shouldn't have wet my hair so soon after a permanent . When it dried it had turned to frizz - no form , no rhyme , no reason to its existence .
The next school day was a continuation of the one before . It was a week before the children found new things to occupy them . No other girls ever came to school with a permanent after my experience . They wouldn't have been able to take it . Trust me !
So tell me... do you have a permanent 'permanent' memory ?