Never take a fall into a swimming pool

Jun. 12, 2013 @ 08:58 PM

Today is my daughter’s birthday, and I just hung up from getting her a gift certificate for a hair styling at her local spa, which reminded me how nothing any spa could ever dream up could help my hair in this lifetime. I can take them all the pictures I want to of Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” and it is - and will forever be - futile. (You men won’t understand this column, so I’d move on to the Sports section.)

I have very curly, often frizzy hair, which I inherited from my mother. When I was 12 years old, I began hating her for this, because that was the year I discovered it was only cool to have hair like Farrah Fawcett (or my sister, Susan, who was always the favorite and has thick, wavy hair. My other sister, Karen, and I believe that Saint Susan will inherit everything eventually, which is why we’ve planned a midnight reconnaissance to Mom and Dad’s house this summer, to see if they’ve written Susan’s name on the bottom of the piano, or Grandma’s sterling, or the car, and our names on things like the can opener or the Solo cups. If our suspicions are confirmed, it will vindicate years of accusations -- and provide an awesome and entertaining confrontation next Thanksgiving!).
So, I was 12 when I began trying those hair-straightening techniques like orange juice cans, ironing, Curl Free, and Scotch tape. I’d pull my hair so tight on top of my head at night that my face wore a surprised expression the whole next day. 
Sometimes, I forgot to take the Scotch tape off my bangs in the morning, and my homeroom nun would frown at me and say things like, “Well, Victoria, are we mailing ourselves somewhere today?” 
What did she know? She got to wear a veil every day (which is when I began making tentative plans to join the convent if my hair never snapped out of this). 
I remember a double date one high school summer, with my cousin, Annie. My date was Buzz Murphy, the absolute stud of the Catholic boys’ school. I wanted my hair to look fabulous, but it was around 96 degrees, so fabulous was out of the question. So, I bought a “fall.”
Remember falls, ladies? Those long hairpieces that had a comb at the top to fit into your hair, like right behind your bangs? 
My mother would have stroked out if she’d seen me covering up my “adorable naturally curly hair, you should thank God every night!”.And, I wondered briefly if anyone would notice that my bangs were thinner, curlier, and slightly darker than the rest of my “hair,” but really, nothing mattered as long as Buzz fell madly, hopelessly in love with me that night. And, I wouldn’t take off my fall until our wedding night. 
After the movie, Buzz invited us for a moonlight swim in his pool. I was enchanted.  There’s nothing like the smell of chlorine on a starry night to evoke romance. I decided to leave the fall on, and stay on the steps at the shallow end. Unfortunately, Buzz didn’t get the memo.
He swooped me up in his arms – it was so “Gone With the Wind,” girls! – carried me over to the deep end, and totally dropped me. I went under, frantically grabbing at all the hair floating around my head, and refused to surface for at least 20 minutes, in the hopes that they’d give up and go in the house for a Coke.  
When I finally came up, holding firmly to the top of my head with one hand, and wiping water from my eyes with the other, all three of them stared at me with undisguised alarm. The fall had apparently begun disintegrating ... and I knew I’d never be Mrs. Buzz Murphy.
After Louise was born, my doctor said that my hair would probably become fuller and more luxuriant. I was skeptical, but I thought, God has given me the agony of childbirth, a body that will never recover, a baby with Colic From Hell, and hospital bills that rival the national debt. The least He could do is give me some hair. Not Britney Spears hair, not even Halle Berry hair.  Just enough to cover my head. 
And, God looked down and sent thick, straight, shiny chestnut hair – perfect hair, the hair I’d always dreamed of - to my daughter, Louise … who is named after my mother… whose fault all of this is!
Happy birthday, sweetheart.

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at, or visit her website,