Nancy Roman

Bad Hair Years

I had a bad hair day yesterday.

I went to my nephew’s wedding. And no, I didn’t wear the fringed slip. But I did wear a low cut, tight black dress, and danced “Shout” with abandon.

But my hair — not so hot.

My bangs, which often torment me with a life of their own, surprisingly behaved themselves. But I had a rather flat spot in the back, and a sticking-out piece on the right side.

But bad hair in 2011 is so much better than it used to be.

I am grateful every day for the important scientific advances known as PRODUCT.

Yes, that’s what the hairdressers call it.  Product.  There’s so much variety, and you can get just about any result you want.  Soft and shiny, no problem.  Hard and spiky, you bet.  High, slicked, curly, big, rasta, ethereal.

All this Product works.  Just not every day; or all day.  For me, anyway.

But I’m still grateful.  Because of how bad it used to be.

I have thin, fine hair.  But not smooth fine.  No  –  it’s fine with cowlicks.

And in the face of yesterday’s minor hair ideosyncrasies, I am reminded of those nightmare hair years called High School.

In high school, I had only three products to choose from:

Hair Spray.  And this wasn’t the natural, light mist of today.  No; this was shellac.  There was a TV commercial (I think for White Rain) with two ladies, one shellacked and one natural.  And they drove these ladies in a convertible through some combination of wind tunnel and car wash.  And the force-fielded lady still had her bouffant hairdo after the monsoon.

Dippity-Do. This was like today’s gel. Only it wasn’t really. It was really glue. And glue that turned into an inch of dandruff — sort of like a light November snow.

Beer. Yes, you could set your hair with a little beer. It stiffened your hair enough to make it take the form of your rollers. But oh my dear, how those rollers hurt. They were hard wire things with brushes sticking out to catch your hair. But those little bristles also stuck in your scalp.  Try sleeping on those.

My father would obligingly agree to have a beer in the evening, so I could have a few tablespoons as my setting lotion. Then I would wind up my hair on those nasty rollers, usually with at least three bobby pins on each one.  And I’d go to bed. I had a cat years ago who used to sleep on an old radiator, and I marveled at how he could sleep on those curvy, iron lumps. Because I couldn’t.  By midnight, I’d have torn most of the rollers out.

And I’d have very weird hair by morning.

It didn’t matter though, because by the time the bus came, it had all fallen down anyway.

But I did get a break. Halfway through high school, Twiggy became the hot model.  So I went short, and the hell with the rollers.  Of course I looked like hell too.  But I slept.

Come to think of it, my wedding hairdo yesterday was fabulous.

photo (82) rev

High School Hair


  1. Ha! I remember those products. I set my hair on orange juice cans to straighten it and also taped it across my forehead! Sick!
    Here’s my hair post: :


  2. I was having a bad hair day yesterday as well. I went into the ladies room and discovered my hair was sticking straight up. Maybe it was the weather? Dry cool days are not good for my hair.

    My era was all about big hair – starting with the Farrah Fawcet do, and then the “creative hairdos” of the 80’s, and Jersey girl Big Hair. We all used a product called “Stiff Stuff”.


  3. I had good hair yesterday. My husband even commented on it! So you know it was good!!! Product is awesome. I remember dippity doo and totally agree with the dandruff comment!!! It was okay for awhile but then watch out! I am sure your hair looked much better than you give it credit for. 🙂


  4. I very vaguely remember a white rain commercial like that. And we used dippity-doo in the theatre when I was a child. I was always grateful that my character never required the sleek-and-flaky look!


  5. You’re right. “It didn’t matter though, because by the time the bus came, it had all fallen down anyway.” And my mind would play tricks on me because I would imagine I looked like the image I last saw in the mirror, at the time “perfectly coifed.”


  6. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    Fun! I must say, tho, bobby pins in those wire rollers would have been an improvement. Seems to me I attached with bright pink plastic straight pins that cantilevered (is that the word I want?) to my head…in other words…stick the pointy end of the pin in your head. Yikes…and all in the name of the beauty which I was seeking and never felt I attained.


    • I remember the pink toothpick things! They were horrible!


  7. I hadn’t heard of using beer. But I bet you had boys hanging all over you just to smell your hair.
    I also used vinegar (to keep my hair from getting oily) and lemon juice (to make it look sun-kissed) as well as a powdered dry shampoo. My father used to get furious when I washed my long, straight, thin, fine hair just before leaving the house (to keep it as clean as possible-it was oily) and he’d be waiting for me in the car.
    Now I just don’t care….guess I really am old.


  8. Beer really?? What is it about it I wonder


  9. Dippity Do! We were just laughing about that recently. “Product” is just so expensive sounding – guess that’s why the salons call it that?


  10. No fringed slip, oh well, next party…

    After dancing with abandon to “Shout!” who would know you had bad hair? I bet you looked great. But you created a fine post out of your fine, but mind-of-its-own hair.

    Well done, my friend!


  11. Your teenage picture looks lovely! I remember Dippity Doo. My Mom was going to buy stock in that company because I used so much. Then, I teased it really big. Thank God those days are over!


  12. Reminds me of when I got a perm once. After hours of chemicals my hair was just as straight as when I had started!


  13. What a sweet teenage image!! And – it’s been a long..long time since I thought of dippidy-doo!! Thanks for reminding me of life before ‘product’.


  14. Egads I feel/felt your hair pain. I have a cowlick right in front and when Farrah bangs were popular I was so screwed. One side went one way and the other went another way. I remember dippity do but my shellac of choice was Final Net. I could pick up one hair and the whole side of my head would lift up. Thanks for the hair nightmare memories.


  15. Oh, I know exactly the kind of rollers you’re talking about!! Unholy. And I need to get the name of your product! I have fine, thin hair, too!


    • I’m still looking for one. I’ll let you know,


  16. Chris

    Hey – what about “spoolies”?


    • Yikes…they were so weird. Hair with ridges!


  17. JSD

    That’s a darling picture of you as a teenager!


  18. I deal with bad hair days daily. I deal with them by putting my hair in a bun or ponytail.


  19. ah, yes. “Product”. The stuff my hairdresser claims will do the trick. But it never does. So he sells me a new “Product”. And the cycle continues.


  20. Oh girl, do I remember! Great post!


  21. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! And if your hair is ever “missing,” it’s on my head. You can have it back anytime you like. I can’t do a thing with it, either! Thanks for the laughs!


  22. Just got back from my 45th (!!!) high school reunion. We were remembering how if we were brunette, we wished we were blonde; curly haired? wished for straight,smooth; blonde? we wished we were dark and exotic – oh it went on and on. And yes, we all remember Dippity-Do and Final Net and those horrible curlers – I’m sure we all have deformed heads and necks! Yes, and beer, or better yet mayonaise to treat our dry locks! And remember those HOURS under the hairdryer cap – no such thing as BLOW-DRY back then. I vote that is the best improvement ever – nice strong, hot blow dryers!


  23. Dippity Do, beer, and hairspray. I remember all of them so well. Tried ’em all. Didn’t work like in commercials. TODAY, I LIKE the hairspray, especially if I’m not too chinzy. Seems to do the trick most of the time. Most of the time. Lucky me.

    Great post.


  24. Meant to mention those horrible rollers with the pink piks. Yikes. I remember them so well. Never got a good night’s sleep either. Oh the price of looking well put together.


  25. Another thing to be thankful for – perms are no longer de rigueur. They aren’t, right? RIGHT?


  26. Well, some things had changed in the five years between you and me. At least here in northern Indiana, Aqua Net was the ONLY hair spray we used because it was considered the strongest — and we used huge amounts of it! We would tease our hair and then sculpt it into the shape we wanted. And, you’re right, it stayed exactly like that all day.

    Re. sleeping on curlers. My friends and I used the very large plastic ones. Because, yes, we did sleep on them but if you put them in very neat, close rows, while they were still not comfortable, they were tolerable. Our motto was “You have you have to suffer to be beautiful.” And back then it was true. In fact, you had to suffer to just be presentable (in our teenage opinion). 🙂

    btw, in reference to high school hair, you might want to look at my current profile picture. It is of me and Hubby-to-be going to the prom in my sophomore year. Combing your hair into a wing was all the rage right then. 🙂


  27. I remember the rollers you referred to in this post. We called them “cascades” and my mother made me sleep on them every night telling me “You have to suffer to be beautiful!” I remember thinking that I really didn’t want to be beautiful that bad. To this day I sleep on my stomach.


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