Some people have bad hair days.
I have bad hair years.
I discovered this fact not long ago, when my sister came into town unexpectedly. She arrived at my house to find me waist deep in photographs dating as far back as 1981. I was making a valiant attempt to organize my photos into handsome little acid free photo boxes (instead of plastic grocery bags) by year, date and event (instead of by which plastic bag was most accessible). My sister joined me on the den floor, carefully sitting down in a sea of family photos.
Inevitably, we began, as sisters will, reminiscing. Several pictures triggered memories of stories as yet untold, like the story of the sober DUI. This story being triggered by pictures of my Dad's 50th Birthday Party to which I had brought my (unbeknownst to me) future husband. It was a Sunday afternoon, and upon returning to Athens from the party, I was pulled over by campus police. An empty beer bottle (not mine, of course) rolling in the floor board of the back seat was duly noted by the officer.
Instantly, he had me out of the car standing on my left leg with the toes of my right foot curled to the north, my eyes closed, the index finger of my left hand touching my nose, my ring finger of my right hand pointing east and all the while reciting the books of the bible in alphabetical order from Z to A.
Despite having consumed nothing stronger than a Cherry Coke, I failed. It was the only test in college that I ever failed. (You believe me, right?) What really made the officer angry, however, was that I was so nervous about being put on display in such a manner in front of my (unbeknownst to me) future husband that I was laughing hysterically, proclaiming my innocence, asking him to repeat himself and telling him "Wait, wait, I can get it."
This event did not occur in a bad hair year (obviously, because I was with my unbeknownst-to-me future husband) and is not related to this story. The telling was for the purpose of illustrating how off track my sister and I strayed in our photo sorting.
Suddenly, though, our stories fell silent as we noticed, with horror, the number of hairstyles we had both had over the years. And not just that, but also how bad most of them were. We have lived through a lot of bad hair years.
We laid the pictures out across the floor in chronological order so as to effectively trace our hair history. It's not a history of which either one of us is particularly proud. In addition, just for fun, we traced the hair history of other family members as well. Some of whom, by the way, don't have particularly stunning histories either. Misguided as it may be, we found comfort in that.
Since this is not photojournalism (thankfully), I will provide you with some highlights of bad hair years:
In 1981, I was still recovering from the 70's (during which time my brain fell out of the leg of my bell-bottom pants), as evidenced by my flat hair with "wings" that swooped back on either side of my face to meet at the back of my head.
A great deal of hairspray (the EPA has been investigating my role in the thinning of the ozone) held these feathered masterpieces in place. I call this style "the glider" because in a stiff wind I could have jumped off a cliff and effortlessly hang glided to safety. My Prince Charming, had I had one, might have called "Lucy! Lucy! Glide down with your hair!"
Skipping ahead, 1989 was the year of the big hair. I, with the already naturally curly hair, got a perm. It was a huge hair mistake. It made my naturally curly hair look grotesquely unnaturally curly.
Truly, I had what I affectionately call "triangle hair." My hair must have measured a good twelve inches across the bottom, and it peaked at the top of my head in tall bangs, not unlike Pee Wee Herman's. I have no excuse for this bad hair. I hang my head in shame as I admit that I was well over the age of beauty parlor consent.
Moving on, take the year 1995 into consideration. Evidently, the Brady Bunch made a lasting impression upon me because I donned a hairstyle I have dubbed "the Jan," complete with barrettes and spiral curls. As I looked at a photo of one of the most precious moments in my life, the birth of my first child, I got choked up about all those doctors and nurses seeing me in such a compromising hair style. How could my husband have taken pictures of me gazing at my newborn son with my pie face accentuated by my poor selection of barrettes? What was I thinking?
As we begin a new year, and you struggle to make a New Year's resolution, you may want to reflect on your past hair years. Learn from my mistakes. Resolve that 2004 will be your best hair year ever!
As for me, having gotten all this off my chest, I resolve to finally organize my family photos.