Blow Dry? It’s Enough to Curl Your Hair

<i> Willison is special services editor for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. </i>

Summer vacations can be a wonderful time to learn about new customs, visit new places or meet new friends. For me, summer vacation served as a time to learn about the importance of being coiffed.

My workaday wardrobe is devoid of Spandex pants and leather, I wear only one earring per ear, and my hair is without streaks of any primary colors other than its own very primary brown. Rather than describe my looks as square, I prefer to think of myself as a mid-30s woman who looks, uh, traditional. Or at least that’s how I thought of myself before my summer vacation.

A Big Event

My three-week vacation was a big event for me. I would be traveling overseas with my two sons on a helter-skelter journey that would leave little time for hair care. At home, my shoulder-length, hopelessly thick hair takes several hours to dry, so I decided to leave my 15 trusty hair rollers at home and depend on beauty salons to keep soil out of my scalp and curl in my coif. That was my first mistake.

I should have known what trouble lay ahead when I accepted a bon voyage gift from a dear friend who had booked me for a “day of beauty” to ensure that I’d board the plane looking my best.

Everything was bliss. I was served freshly ground coffee, wrapped in a pretty smock and treated like a VIP--until it came time to deal with my hair. A young man who appeared to be half my age and weight ran his fingers through my homespun hair and asked me what sort of a look I was after. I explained that I intended to keep the same look, but I wanted to begin my holiday--now only a few hours away--with clean shiny hair. I pointed out where I placed my curlers when I went through my five-minute set at home but noticed that the young stylist looked upset.


“Curlers?” he asked incredulously. “I don’t know how to do curlers. I don’t even have any curlers here,” he wailed.

Borrowed Curlers

Fortunately, I was able to borrow curlers from one of his older associates, set my hair myself and get my out-of-style hair dry before boarding time. But as I watched the blow-dry ballet that passes for hair styling these days, I couldn’t help but wonder if I were the last woman in Southern California who liked a bit of curl in her hair . . .

I wish that were the end of my story, but the same scenario has happened to me in London, Edinburgh, Palm Springs, Palm Beach and just about anywhere I’ve had to rely on a beauty salon to get my hair clean.

“Curlers?” hairdressers say, much as word processors might say “Quill pen?”

Surely not all of today’s women have wash-and-wear hair. There must be others, like me, who, although too young to have a permed, Donna Reed do are too traditional to sport a hairdo inspired by Cher or Cyndi Lauper.

This year’s summer vacation taught me not only to pack my faithful 15 curlers whenever I travel, but to take them with me even when I arrive for a beauty salon appointment.

Ever since I’ve been home--and responsible once again for my hairdo--I’ve developed a new appreciation for my little curlers. I had no idea that hairdressers these days don’t know how to set hair and can only “blow” you into beauty. I’m slowly becoming accustomed to being out of it in the looks department.

Now I only have to determine which is the real antique--me, my hairdo, or my curlers.