We wore curlers; they ‘make up’ at lunch

Published 11:48 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Back in the old days of the 1960s, we had these things called brush rollers. Women and teenage girls like me used them to curl their hair.

We were innocent back in the day and did not recognize these as the instruments of torture they were. All we knew was if we rolled our wet hair around the bristles, secured it with a bobby pin and left it rolled until the hair was completely dry, we’d come out looking like a Breck girl. (Anyone remember Breck girls? If you do, you qualify for AARP membership).

It did not always turn out as expected. Sometimes the hair tangled up in the brush roller and required you almost pulling it out by the roots to get the darn thing loose. On occasion, I have cut a few hairs in order to release the hold.

The tightness of the curl you got depended on the size of the roller. They ranged from frozen-orange-juice-can size to ones about the circumference of your pinky. The pinky-sized ones guaranteed a curl so tight it looked like a corkscrew.

My go-to move for getting the look I desired was to remove all the rollers, turn my head upside down and brush the heck out of my hair. Then I’d flip my head back up and boom, volume – so much volume, so many curls. Add a little teasing and a can of hairspray and I had a big hair extravaganza.

The interesting thing about the brush roller days is you not only used them at night for beautiful morning curls, but also during the day in preparation for some coming event.

It was not unusual to see women shopping with their heads full of rollers. Sometimes they attempted to cover them with a scarf, but mostly not. I have myself gone out into the world with a face perfectly made up and my head full of curlers. Yes, it always begged the question – where are these women getting ready to go if they are out shopping with their hair in the preparation stage?

What sent me down this road of revisiting beauty trends of my youth was something I witnessed Saturday. My husband, daughter and I were eating lunch at a restaurant when I noticed a young woman and an older woman come in and sit down near us.

Throughout the entire meal, I don’t think they spoke a word. The younger woman was busy tapping out messages on one phone while she talked with someone on another phone.

Now I know today that is not an uncommon sight, but it seemed kinda sad to me. The older woman didn’t have much of a lunch companion, but that’s another story.

Anyway, what brought the roller memory to mind happened near the end of the meal. I noticed that the young woman put down one phone, turned the other to camera option so she could see herself, pulled out a makeup bag and proceeded to “put her face on.”

There was all manner of powdering, blushing, mascara using and lipstick applying going on while everyone around her continued to eat. She stopped long enough to tap out another message to whoever was interrupting her beauty regime.

In the midst of watching this makeover, the very words came out of my mouth that I heard all those years ago when women shopped in their rollers.

“Where in the world is she getting ready to go?” I said to my husband. “I mean she is in a restaurant. Is there somewhere more public she is going that requires makeup?”

Then I heard myself and started laughing. Every generation has its strange beauty thing I guess. Mine was sporting brush rollers in the grocery store. Apparently, today it is makeup application in a restaurant using a cell phone camera.

I shutter to think what is coming in the future. I’m sure whatever it is, there will be a selfie of it on Facebook.

Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.