"Live a good life, and in the end, it's not the years in the life, it's the life in the years."

Hair-raising resolutions for the New Year

By on December 28, 2020 in Columnist with 0 Comments

By Susan Sampson

My mother taught my siblings and me to observe two New Year’s Eve traditions. 

First, we would leave a silver coin overnight on a windowsill facing in each direction. That would ensure that prosperity would flow to us from every direction during the new year. (My brother always got an early start on prosperity. He was first up on New Year’s Day to scoop the coins off the windowsills and pocket them.) 

Second, we would make resolutions — we would promise ourselves to better ourselves in some way.

As a teenager, I chose a resolution easily: “I hereby resolve to do a better job setting my hair this year.” 

A popular style at the time was “the flip” — hair was long and straight, with just the bottom edge turned up. “Long” was simple — that was just a matter of time. “Straight” was simple — that was genetic. 

But coaxing a curl into the bottom edge was not easy. My sister-next-in-line behind me, and I, elbowed each other out of the way in front of the bathroom mirror to do our hair. It was a one-bathroom house for six people, I might add, so we had to hold others at bay at hair-setting time. 

We had no hair dryer, so we would shampoo at bedtime and roll up our tresses over our whole heads for the night. We used plastic mesh rollers an inch-and-a-half in diameter, or even fatter, and secured each roller in place by sticking through it with a plastic pick that braced against our scalps. 

Of course, it was impossible to sleep on a head full of rollers, so I discarded most of mine by morning. If I managed to leave a roller in, then the hair in it was still damp by morning, and as straight as ever. 

I would have made a terrible candidate for Miss America:

Bert Parks (the guy who sang, “Here she comes/Miss America): What are your aspirations for the coming year?

Me: To cure cancer, to bring about world peace, and to wear my hair in a cute flip.

Wearing those hair rollers was a scarring experience. If the coroner ever has to identify my body, he will identify me by the one-inch-long part on the top of my scalp, toward the back. That’s where that roller pick rubbed me bald every night.

I should have resolved to do something selfless, like cure cancer or work for world peace, but that hair resolution followed me for years. 

For a while, I was happy for a shampoo called “Long and Silky” until I realized that my friends with naturally curly hair or tight afros were not impressed. Now that brand-name sells shampoo for dogs.

During my middle years, I actually made a more selfless resolution. I figured that world peace, like charity, begins at home. I resolved to quit back-seat driving, to quit gasping, clutching the dashboard, and stomping my imaginary brake when my husband was driving the car. That would do a lot for his peace of mind. 

Unfortunately, as everybody knows, resolutions are made to be broken. I haven’t succeeded at that one yet. 

I started getting smarter about my resolutions when I made them easier to achieve: “This year I hereby resolve to get my hair cropped off short and trimmed every six weeks and to lose three pounds.” 

I could have said 15 pounds and a trim every three weeks, but I figured that a resolution should at least sound feasible. If I say three pounds, if anybody asks how I am doing, I can lie and say that I did it — don’t the politicians call that “Credible deniability?”

This New Year’s Eve, I’m going to win the resolution game. I have two tricks up my sleeve. 

First, I’m going to resolve to do something I want to do and would do anyway: “I hereby resolve to skip exercising on Saturdays.” Second, I’m going to accede to the inevitable: “I hereby resolve not to try to curl my hair, not this year, not ever, not for the rest of my life!”

With all the aggravation that should save me, perhaps I’ll have time to work my backseat driving, curing cancer or bringing about world peace. 

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