Throwback Thursday- The Perm Years

posted in: humor | 1

So I don’t normally take part in throwback Thursdays.  If you haven’t noticed by now, I have a strong aversion to being photographed.  I’m not sure exactly WHEN it started, but I have a really good idea why, as I will show you in a minute. Patience, my young Padawan.

First, let’s dive into the WHY of today’s throwback.  My hair has been drier and more difficult to pick through lately.  As anyone with naturally curly hair will note this is fairly normal so when I say more I mean I am losing a fairly large handful of hair just trying to get through it.  Lucky for me I’ve got an in having married myself one bang-up hairstylist so I decided to take his advice today and do a conditioning treatment on my lovely locks. Shower Cap

Nice, right? My plan: slather on the conditioner, stick my wet hair up in a cap for an hour, move on about my day. Well, as I first started to feel my still damp hair dripping down my neck & forehead I was instantaneously transported back in time to my younger days.  That’s right, I was a perm kid.  I don’t recall if this was something I liked or not.  My suspicion is that it was my mother’s way of getting me to look decent when many days my father was in charge of me getting on the bus.  I have heard stories of the items I was allowed to wear to school those days so I imagine that it played a heavy part in making the decision to perm.











Aside:  Don’t worry.  You’re gonna see pictures. Embarrassing pictures. And just to dispel any nagging ideas that maybe I was just a homely kid and that it wasn’t the perm after all, I have photographic evidence that before I was sent off to kindergarten I was pretty damn cute.  I mean, look at me.


Then kindergarten happened and my beautiful locks were cut to resemble that of Uncle Joey’s (Dave Coulier). Uncanny, isn’t it.


Anyway, back to Memory Lane.  Now for those of you that have never had the “luxury” of having a home permanent treatment, let me share with you what you are missing.

First, there is the excruciating pain of hundreds of different sized rollers (okay, maybe not hundreds) meticulously placed so tightly in your hair that you are fairly concerned that more of it will fall out than curl.  You can actually see the skin stretch as the rollers attempt to pluck your hair right out of the damn follicle.

Next there are the stinkiest concoctions of chemicals doused on your scalp and you are left to stew as chemistry has it’s way with you and your follicles.  I vaguely remember being told that I could be blinded if I dared open my eyes or hesitated to hold the washcloth tightly over my eyes while my mother raised my hair out in the sink. A lot of responsibility for a child- preventing ones own blindness.


After the toxins were rinsed clean (with the most scolding hot water available from the tap) the curlers were as painfully removed as they were placed. Your mother was then free to pick through your new do making sure that your ears were still attached by making a point to harshly comb over them.

Finally, your new foul smelling head was ready to wear for the next few days and proclaim your entrance into the classroom as you were strictly forbidden from washing your hair for the next few days.


The best thing about a perm, however, was the versatility.  I mean, I pulled off many looks ranging from white girl round afro, to smaller round button mushroom do, to triangular poodle hair. Even my sister wasn’t safe. Don’t believe me?  See for yourself.