Your probably going to read this and think that I’m some kind of vanity whore but I see it as a breakdown in the hairstyling industry, causing severe Brillo Padnian Disorder. Now that’s not an officially recognized medical affliction and, in fact, it comes completely from my imagination and yet it concisely explains the problem.
Building a relationship with a hair stylist is a very crucial element to allowing someone to ‘have at it’ on your head. The first time you go to a new stylist it’s with some trepidation and a little fear since the outcome is in doubt. If the first visit yields no discernible ugly or, if by some great stroke of luck, you end up really liking the result of their work, you start booking on a regular basis and walk in with a little more confidence each time.
My stylist, Miko, and I had developed that type of relationship and we’d even get a little playful and ‘experiment’ occasionally. In 1984, when a lot of those wild temporary spray-in colors were in vogue, we’d add a little of this and a little of that, going so far as to (at my suggestion) spray in every single color in the collection just for the hell of it. I looked like I dove head first into a vat of melted crayons but I’d just go home and wash it out and get back to normal (if I ever had such a state of being).
Around this time I was lovin’ me some Hall and Oates and was particularly impressed with the luscious, girl-magnet locks of Daryl Hall. He had this wavy blond coif that I thought would look great on me as well because we were similar body types and both musicians and both, seemingly, really cool guys. Remember, this was Flock of Seagulls era where there was some seriously assed-up hair but not Daryl’s…it was just cool. I’ll bet John Oates was envious of Daryl’s hair too. Hell, I bet Daryl’s girlfriend was envious of Daryl’s hair. OK, I’ll stop.
Anyway, after studying the desired result and looking at my ‘somewhat wavy’ but not wavy enough hair I figured the job for Miko was to get better wave action going and then style it accordingly and then as soon as I stepped out of the salon, chicks would be falling all over themselves trying to touch my golden mane. This, in turn, would increase my visibility, marketability and, if nothing more, make me think I looked really cool like Daryl Hall. In the 80’s, I was a sucker for all sorts of nonsense.
I also needed to make it form retentive. When you have short hair like I have now (out of sheer necessity because there’s a shortage of participants) all you have to do is wake up and, bam, there’s a style. You don’t even have to run a brush through it. Instead of personal attention you let the pillow do its work throughout the night. But with this Daryl Hall, 80’s doo, there was going to have to be a method of keeping the wavy hair wavy. This, Miko decided, should probably be a perm.
Miko told me that by using large rollers we’d get a larger, more wave like curl and then styling it from there would be a snap. There was logic in her explanation and I already had visions of happy Hall hair dancing through my noggin’. To help Miko along I cut out a few pictures of Daryl’s hair to give her a template to work with. I wasn’t going to rely on anecdotal hair, I was giving her frigging hair pictures to work with. “Make me look just like that!”
Finally, it was perm day and I was all psyched up and ready for the transformation. We’d gone over everything, Miko had the pictures and all systems were go. Everything seemed fine although I noticed when she was rolling my hair that I expected the rollers to be larger but, hey, she’s the professional so just stay clear. And then, after some dryer time, came the reveal where my inner Daryl Hall would finally come out.
But what came out had absolutely nothing to do with anything we discussed. No Daryl Doo. No golden mane. No luxurious wavy locks. Nothing but a head full of medium sized pin curls that made me look, for want of a better phrase, like a fucking idiot. And now these chemicals had frozen this fine look onto my head like super-glue and I was doomed for the life of the perm.
What had gone so terribly wrong? Miko must have seen the shocked look on my face as I stared into the mirror in horror at the bad case of the aforementioned Brillo Padnian Disorder and mumbled something about wanting waves not curls and “what happened to the waves?” and “you killed Daryl Hall” and other rambling things. And then Miko said, “Maybe I didn’t use big enough rollers.”
I’m thinking; ‘Didn’t you see those pictures? You’ve got to use the biggest rollers you own to get a Daryl Hall wave like that. Are you crazy?’ But she was a very sweet woman and I couldn’t find it in my heart to stab her in the head with her own sheers like I wanted to so I mumbled a few more incoherent things, paid the bill and left.
Instead of leaving the salon cool and confident like I’d envisioned, I made a beeline for my car, hoping that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew or even anyone at all because I imagined all of them thinking, ‘he’s got fucking idiot hair.’ When I got home, I stared at my hair in the mirror for hours, just repeating over and over…”fucking idiot hair, fucking idiot hair.” The curls were still so tight that I imagined I could clean the tub out with nothing more than some Comet cleanser and my head.
Thankfully, there is no photographic evidence that I’m aware of. Through the entire long duration of it’s growing out I probably ducked out whenever somebody hoisted a camera in my direction. Somewhere, however, there is video because, not long after, the old national/local show, PM Magazine, came to our house and did a feature on our stage show and our subsequent relocation to New York City. In that video, there’s old Brillo head in all his glory but in the ongoing process of traversing the country I’ve lost the VHS copy. Oh, bummer.
It was all my fault, really. I aimed unrealistically high trying to achieve Daryl hair. Who was I to think that I could effortlessly run with that? You leave that kind of responsibility to the PR machine that can afford to maintain it, not some local musician with limited resources. But as I sat, hang dog, head in hands, I couldn’t shake the question of what possessed Miko to use those small rollers…and then, as clouds parted and strange electrified harps played, a vision of Daryl Hall appeared to me and sang:
Oh-oh, here she comes
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
Oh-oh, here she comes…