The judge looked sternly over his bench at the woman standing before him.
“You are charged with four counts of aggravated assault, three cases of disturbing the peace — and it says here you tried to blow up a building with plastique. These are serious charges,” he said. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
The woman looked earnestly up at the judge, her eyes filling with tears.
“I was having a bad hair day.”
The judge sat back on his padded chair and ran his fingers through his own well-manicured mane.
“Oh no. Well. A bad hair day. What are we going to do about this?”
“Don’t you just hate it when that happens?” chimed in the defense attorney. “Some days you can gel and gel and it does no good. Part of your ‘do’ sticks out and the rest lies down too flat. Who wouldn’t blow up a building?”
The judge looked down at the defendant.
“Have you tried that new mousse made of crushed cherry pits and milkweed? Does wonders for my split ends.”
The assistant district attorney broke in. She had no idea, she said, of the extenuating circumstances surrounding these offenses. The arresting officer didn’t say a word about split ends at the grand jury session. She offered a plea bargain, and the judge agreed to probation on the condition that the defendant condition.
“Your problem obviously lies in the cut,” he said in solemn judicial tones. “Here’s the name of my stylist. And I don’t want to see you in here again with the frizzies or I’ll throw the book at you.”
A bad hair day.
It can happen to anyone. In this time of acute hair awareness, it has replaced PMS as the sure-fire excuse for all wrongdoing. And unlike cramps, it works equally well for men and women.
When I was a kid back in Callisburg, nobody had a bad hair day. Certainly not men, who either relied on comb-overs or flattop wax and thought no more about their tresses from one day to the next.
Girls and women rolled their hair on pink brush rollers affixed to their heads with pink plastic pins. Overnight the brushes in the rollers embedded themselves in your scalp. The pins pierced your skull and entered your brain. The next morning when you pried the things out of your cranial cavity you had industrial strength curl.
Some of the girls with really long hair wore cardboard orange juice containers on their heads. With the little round metal ends punched out, they became maxi-rollers. Some girls never took these out of their hair and I can only assume they thought the empty-container statement was better than mini-hair.
A few years later good hair became big hair. Big hair for us Texas girls meant back-combing to the max, then emptying a can of something called “Spray Net” into it. Older women often put things called rats into their long hair, making a series of fascinating bumps that gave the appearance of several small animals burrowed in there.
My mother got her hair “fixed” once a week. As though it were broken. She came home from The Hair Box or Leona’s Kut n’ Kurl or whichever hairdresser was dying her eyebrows and fixing her hair that week, complaining that it was too short, too long, too full or too flat. Obviously, it was not fixed after all.
But that didn’t stop her from preserving the do. Every night before she went to bed she wound a length of pink stretchy sort of foamlike material around her head to keep from sleeping out the curl she didn’t like in the first place.
Back then you had your spray net. You had your Dippity-Do. You had no-tears formula shampoo. But you didn’t have stores full of stuff with names like “Bed Head.”
I dried my hair this morning and put in my electric hot rollers. I eased into my easy chair to watch the news. Forty-five minutes later I woke up and frantically pulled out the now cold rollers. Little Orphan Annie stared back at me in the mirror. Shrieking, I tried to brush out the terminal curls. They weren’t leaving. Frantically I scrabbled through my hair care drawer looking for help. I moussed it and gelled it and rubbed in part of every container I came to. Nothing eased the kinks. Finally at the back of the drawer I found what I was looking for. Plastique.
My hair will still be curly and I’m not sure which building will pay the price, but I’ll feel much better soon.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.