My mom ruled my crown of glory till I started working. Did yours?
I just went along with whatever hair-raising styles she chose. I didn’t want to chance losing dinner by protesting - this wonderlady mama of mine cooks the best food ever!
My china doll haircut - looks so adorable on most kids, but somehow it failed to take off for me. I blame it on Slim Whitman’s ‘China Doll’ song that was a favorite of mom’s back then. That and also my lack of cute cheekbones combined with uncute small eyes – you really need Bambi peepers to support such a demanding frame.
My mini eyes happened around the era of ‘Not double eyelid, Not Big, Not Nice!’ for girls. Tons of magazines pumped up this belief by featuring doe-eyed models & movie stars as Supreme Goddesses of Beauty.
At birthday phototakings, mom would be behind the photographer, both hands doing a ‘twinkle, twinkle little star’ action and earnestly shouting ‘make your eyes bigger, Bigger’ at me. I’d intensely widen my eyes, even raising my brows as high as I could.
This gave every one of my pics a stunned, glaring expression. Luckily, being too busy taking instructions from my director mother, I didn’t smile into the camera. If not, I imagine I’d have ended up looking like Nicholson’s maniacal best in ‘The Shining’.
Then mom decided that I’d look really sweet with long ponytails swishing on either side of my head. She tied them so tight I swear they pulled my slitty eyes narrower. I couldn’t feel my head till she removed the rubber bands after school. That sudden gush of relief was one of the highlights of my day.
However, I really missed my ponytail episodes when, at 14, mom announced that (gasp) I should cut my hair ‘short, short’ to make it ‘easy, easy’ for me. I nearly fainted.
I was mistaken for a boy three times, twice in the ladies loo. I began to daydream of mass printing 365 T-shirts that read something like ‘The Person in this T-shirt is a GIRL!’ or ‘If you think I’m a male, you’re Dead Meat!’
Tugging at my hair before sleeping in the hope that it would grow faster and magically transform into gorgeously long, blonde Rapunzel locks by morning just made me giddy with headaches. This was as good as shaving me bald.
I sulked at my short hair all the way through secondary school right up to two years of co-ed junior college, where I had my very first BIG crush. It was Cruel – he thought I was a boy...
I was too infatuated to call him cock-eyed, so I got up from behind my desk, composed myself and casually said that it’s a common mistake because I am... er... 'tall for a girl'.
He kept a distance. I adored from afar. Nothing else to report.
No, wait... there is one small, horrible thing to report.
The Friday before the final two days, I was still hoping to stir up a little attraction. You know, maybe then he’ll ask for my number, I get my fairytale wedding, Veneno & we’d live jet-settingly happily ever after.
Right after classes, without telling mom, armed with a doe-eyed magazine, and my overgrown pixie hair, I went straight to the hairdresser’s and asked for the first perm of my life - an exact one that was featured on page 21. The model looked absolutely Gorgeous!
Five hours later, my hair looked absolutely Grotesque! Every strand turned out like a tight spring stretched out. In short, my crowning glory was a black candy floss. I was too shocked to cry.
They had kept saying how thick my hair was and how ‘difficult’ it was for the lotion to work, all the while dabbing more & more of it onto the thin curlers. Once the horror was revealed, they sweetly said they weren’t going to charge me for the extra dabbings. I paid. I walked home. People stared.
I locked myself in the bedroom immediately. Mom knocked gently and asked if I was sick. I didn’t answer. She shouted & banged loudly. I opened the door...
At this point, I want to take the opportunity to say that no matter what, our moms are the superheroes in our lives. Mine certainly is.
She can sense at Mach speed that something’s wrong with her china doll baby (me!) - it’s as if she developed some sort of high level Lucy* ESP during those months of my foetal accomodation. Moms also vow eternal love regardless of how much we screw up our studies, work and life, but most of all, they jump in to rescue you from that crucial worst hair day. Mine certainly did.
She marched me back to the salon after a comforting cup of tea and a reassuring talk. The hairdresser straightened out as much as she could; the stubborn wiry perm became shiny thick waves, very similar to that of a Yorkshire Terrier.
Still not desirable, I know, but given the choice, it was much better than the candy floss... and given the choice again, I really didn’t want to go back to school on Monday with this fur on my head, but I did. I had to. I promised my mom not to chicken out the moment we left the shop – I was high on gratitude and did it without thinking.
Did he notice me? I’ll never know, because I never got to see him at all. Maybe he decided to skip the last two days. Maybe he took one look, shuddered & ran off in terror staying hidden till the end. No Biggie. I got something better.
I got to understand that I shouldn’t charge at things when inexperienced. I got to realise that it’s wrong to do sneaky stuff behind someone’s back. I got to kick myself for promising too fast. I got to painfully swallow my self-centred, youthful, tough-as-nails pride, and for the first time ever, say ‘Sorry’ followed by ‘Please help me’.
Above all else, I got to know that my mom has super powers and that she’ll still love this daughter even though she sported a shiny doggie perm to impress a teenage crush.
* that cool movie starring Scarlett Johansson
p/s: Next week, I'll sneak in a recipe. Promise!