My grandmother loved my curls. I got them from her. Dad had them, too. But being a man, he kept his hair short. Mom came from straight-hair DNA. She didn’t know what to do with me. After I left the baby-curls stage, my hair was unruly. If I brushed through it, I looked like the SNL Rosanne Rosannadanna. So Mom talked me into short hair. Shorter than Dorothy Hamill. I washed my hair every morning. Blew it dry. When it grew out a little, I curled it, like a short, short Farrah. As an adult, I was done with short hair. I wanted to look feminine, and I thought long hair was feminine. So I grew it out. The only way to tame the hair was to blow it dry every time I washed it. Force it to go straight. Then take a large-diameter curling rod and curl it straight with a slight inward slant at the ends of my hair. Hours. I spent hours doing this–if you add up hair time every day, every week, every month every year for decades.
Yes, decades. What does that have to do with being Catholic? Well, I didn’t appreciate the gift God gave me. My hair. It was my hair. Mine. And I was a terrible steward of my time. I wish I had back all of that time. So what happened? One of my students came to school one day with long, wavy hair. I told her that her hair looked great and asked how she did it. Easy, she said. Wash your hair. Put it in a scrunchy. Go to bed. Wake up. Take out the scrunchy. No products required, I asked. Styling gel, if you have it. Then sleep on the messy bun with the scrunchy tied around it. I went home. On a weekend when I didn’t care how my hair would turn out, I tried it. And it worked. Then I bought the right kind of shampoo. Something just for curly hair. And a conditioner to go with it. And a wrap-around, nylon-covered curler to use instead of a scrunchy because, eventually, I realized that my hair smelled a little musty in the summer. A scrunchy didn’t dry enough. Now I wake up. Fluff out the curls with my fingers. Throw it back up in a bun or let it hang in loose curls. Three minutes. Oh, I want all those hours back.