I’ve never been accused of being a girly girl. Growing up I preferred jeans to skirts, ponytails to any other hairstyle, and sneakers to heels. I was the kind of girl who would rather play with her male cousins’ action figures than with Barbies. Some of my favorite shows when I was a kid were Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. And I wasn’t into that cutesy Pink Ranger…I wanted to be the ultra-cool loner Green Ranger.
I grew up around mostly boy cousins, I always got along better with the boys in my classes, and I chose a career path that had me constantly surrounded by guys. I was the first woman to ever be hired as a tradesman at the paper mill where I used to work. I play video games, drink hard liquor, and couldn’t give less of a rat’s backside about the lives of celebrities or reality show contestants.
You could say, I suppose, that I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. And that’s fine. I definitely think I’ve turned out better for it, to be perfectly honest.
But in my advanced age (dude, I’m gonna be thirty next year!) I’ve begun to poke a little into the world of girly girls…or womanly women, I guess. Mostly this has come as the result of having a daughter. While I happily wear jeans, I just can’t help but think that it’s so adorable when she wears skirts. It’s some strange, motherly madness. But at least some of my foray into womanliness has come as a desire to simply start looking like I care a little more about my appearance. Jeans, t-shirts, and a ponytail don’t exact scream, “I spent more than five minutes getting ready this morning!” And honestly, I can look really nice if I bother to put in some effort.
So I started putting in some effort, in the form of pulling out the ponytails and wearing my hair down every so often. But there is a caveat to this decision. See, my hair is thick, wavy in a completely nonsensical way, and likes to frizz out like I just touched something full of static. This is the reason why I have to straighten it with a flat iron.
Given that I’m a technician by trade, you wouldn’t think this would be a huge problem, but I have come to establish that flat iron use is one of the most complicated things I’ve ever done.
The first time I tried to do it I did what any lifetime tomboy would probably do…I just picked up chunks of hair and started running them through the iron. What felt like hours later I had accomplished visibly bugger all. What the hell was I doing wrong, I wondered? My hairdresser always managed to make this look good during my one or two visits a year (don’t judge me).
So the next time I was at my hairdresser I paid attention I what she was doing instead of daydreaming about what my husband would say if I showed up home with my hair completely hacked off. What I found was that she would pick up 85% of my hair, pin it up on top of my head, and use the flat iron on the little bit that was left. Then she let a little more down and repeat, and repeat until the whole thing was done.
Ah. Do it in layers. I totally should have though of that.
So that’s what I did: I got one of those little alligator clip thingies, piled most of my hair up on top of my head, and went to work. And it worked! Slowly. Very, painstakingly slowly. Again it felt like hours before it was done and though the result wasn’t half bad I felt that it had been an outrageous waste of time.
It wasn’t until months later that my sister-in-law informed me that my straightener was a cheap piece of junk, suitable for women with super-thin hair, but not for my horse-like mane. I needed more heat, she told me. I needed the kind of flat iron that the hairdressers use, the ones that go up to “holy Christ almighty that is scalding!” levels.
So I appealed to my hairdresser, she promise to order me a decent iron that could withstand my Herculean hair, and since it was close to my birthday my parents told me they’d get it for me. Huzzah! A month later I held my brand new flat iron, all shiny blue, with a temperature rating just under the bowels of hell itself. Hot damn, I was finally going to have this thing figured out!
So I ripped the flat iron out of its packaging, piled 85% of my hair up on top of my head, and set to straightening my hair… And immediately cried out in agony. Turned out that the flat iron was so hot that the residual heat it left behind on my hair burned the hell out of the side of my face and neck. I had neglected to notice that when my hairdresser does this she uses a comb to hold the hair away from my head for a few seconds to allow some of the heat to dissipate. Achieving this same maneuver on your own head is surprisingly difficult and evidently requires a fair deal of practice, because I scalded myself at least a dozen more times. My pride was a wee bit sore after that one. So was my neck.
In the end, I’m still a rather large tomboy, and I’ll still wear my hair in ponytails most of the time, but I am also determined to get the hang of this thing if for no other reason than proving that the girly girls aren’t somehow better than me. Because, dammit, I’m a technician and I’m not going to let two strips of hot metal get the better of me!**
**The famous last words of Mrs Tracey Lynn Tobin