My mother, the 'curl girl'

I just bought Mom a bushel of plastic hair rollers for a quarter at an estate sale. As one of a dwindling species - the Curlasaurus - she couldn't have been happier if she'd been handed a bag of rubies.

She sifted through the treasure and plucked out a sandwich bag tied with a twistie. "Oh, goody! There's a bundle of 'pickies,' too," she declared.

You really have to be alert these days to spot a Curlasaurus. Few venture into public, so sightings are rare and newsworthy. The last one I heard about was at a supermarket at nearby Webb City, Mo., on a Saturday morning. Some shoppers openly gawked. The clerk, who was born post-blow-dryers, looked at her as if scanning her for a bar code.

The distinguishing feature of a Curlasaurus is a head bound up like a giant Tuffy. If pressed into service, this head of plastic bristles could blast week-old pork-chop crust, lickety-split, from a skillet.

The Curlasaurus is generally a friendly and good-natured creature, although somewhat set in her ways. Through the years, we've given Mom curling irons and steam curlers and other appliances that make hair the equivalent of fast food: supersized curls, drive-by pouf, instant glamour.

But Mom refuses to give up her old-fashioned yellow-and-pink plastic curlers, which she anchors with pink "pickies" and, for deadbolt security, metal "clippies." When venturing into public on rare occasions, she traps it all in a blue fishnetlike scarf, knotted at the nape of her neck.

Not so long ago, it was common to see Curlasauri driving about, shopping and eating in public places. "Beauty under construction" was no big deal. If you saw one of the Curl Girls, you knew she simply was gearing up for a big Saturday night dinner or (in Mom's case) a big Sunday morning sermon.

Just once, Mom worried briefly about her curling routine after a rumor circulated in the 1970s that brush curlers could lead to damaged hair. No proof was ever produced, though.

Her own thicket is a testimony to the fact that brush curlers don't cause too much havoc. She sees no good reason to change her hair routine now, even if she is a member of a nearly extinct species.

"Better watch it, Mom," I teased her the other day when she showed up at my house in her crown of curlers. "Someone might want your autograph." Her next stop was the supermarket. "Your kind is nearly extinct, you know."

It didn't faze her a bit. She slipped her car coat over her pedal pushers, hitched up her anklets, and drove off.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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