The Curler Wars
by Maizie Lee Linkous
Me, I'm a bona fide veteran of the curler wars. I know it doesn't sound very serious, but when you come from a long line of beauty queens--my grandmama was Miss Cobb County 1930 and 1933, and my mama was runner-up for Miss Georgia in--well, she wouldn't want me to tell you what year it was, but believe me, beauty is Big Business where I come from. And there I was, Miss Maizie Lee Linkous, with stick-straight hair. My sister Daisy had ringlets down to her butt, but me and the curlers, we got to know each other right early.
First it was scratchy metal ones, black and gray, like Brillo in a cage. Mama'd roll my hair up in a whole mess of those of a Saturday night and then jab one of them pointy pick-like things through each one. They were only plastic, but Lord God it felt as if it was like to go right through my scalp. Whenever I'd holler, "Ow!"--and you'd better believe I was never one to hold my tongue if I thought it could get me out of something--Mama'd say, "I'm not hurting you, Maizie Lee. Be still." And then she'd say, "You got your daddy's hard head, girl. Nothing's going to make a dent in that skull."
Then she'd send me off to watch NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, and I'd sit there in my pajamas eating a bowl of ice cream or some popped corn, my head already aching from where Mama'd wound it up so tight. I couldn't hardly enjoy the TV, thinking about what was to come.
I'd kiss Mama good night, and she'd pat me on the bottom and say, "Now, don't let those curlers come out, Maizie Lee." And I'd say, "I won't. I'll sleep real careful," and I'd lay my head down so easy on my pillow, trying to hold perfectly still. But those little Brillo Pads would make my head itch, and then one of them pointy picks would jab me, and so I'd turn my head--just a tad, just trying to get comfortable, you know--but it wouldn't do no good.
Finally I'd fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion, and next morning all the curlers on one side of my head woulda worked themselves loose somehow and just be dangling. Lord, then Mama would fuss. She'd pull them curlers from my hair and they'd hold on like they didn't want to let go, and when she was done, one half of my head would have smooth, blond curls, and the other would be all droopy. Mama would wrap those droopy curls around her hand, trying to get them to curl tighter but no matter how much Aqua Net she sprayed they just wouldn't tighten up.
So then she'd go to work on the other side, trying to loosen those ones. She'd brush and brush and stretch 'em out, then spray hairspray every which way. When she'd let 'em go, boing!, they'd roll right back up.
And there'd be Daisy, smirking at me through a mouth full of Pop Tart, her with her perfect, shiny little curls, watching Davey and Goliath before service, while I had barely enough time to get dressed