Unwelcome Visitor

As a young boy, from the ages of 5 and 11, my mother curled my shortish blonde hair with numerous home permanents and used pins, clips and/rollers to set my hair. I was embarrassed, frustrated and angry with getting my hair curled "like a girl", and before age 9, all my permanents required wearing the curler rods all day or all night, before she started rotating 'neutralization', which just made sitting that much longer. Often I didnt know WHEN the permanent would be given, mom sometimes telling me in advance that I "needed" a permanent, which I didnt understand, as a child 'needing' glasses, while setting my hair, the strands didnt 'cling' to the small rollers used and thusly, every two months, I sat in the kitchen, fighting the horrible stinky waving lotion, while applied by cotton from a bowl, dripped down my cheeks, face, neck and soaked the towels and papers strewn on the floor. I would bury my head in a wash rag or towel while the miserable application continued, making me feel like a drowning dog. My tears rolled down my face as my nose ran with the odor.
Sometimes the permanent was given in a 'surprise', meaning as soon as I got home from school, she had everything ready in the kitchen, including the stool, rods, towels and favored TONETTE by Toni, as well as other 'little girl' home permanents.
On this particular day, we had a day off from school, and my plans included playing with a friend and those plans were shattered when my mom caught me and gave me no warning that my hair would be curled that morning..leading to afternoon., the day crushed. I didnt think of my friend and was quite caught by surprise when he knocked on our door, wanting to see me and my mom telling him that they were "doing my hair", evidently thinking it was getting cut. Because of his insistence, they allowed him in to give me the comic books he'd promised and saw me with a towel wrapped around my already wound up rods. "I didnt know you were giving him a PERMANENT!" he shrilled. But he didnt seem to want to leave and mom opened the bottle and poured it into the bowl and my aunt gave her the cotton balls that would soak my curls. "I didnt know he was a girl!" That comment upset everyone and I yelled back that I was a BOY!, to which he replied that he'd never seen a BOY getting a permanent! "Well, now you do." mom replied. He evidently thought that I'd be finished in no time as she began to soak my curlers he decided to go to the other room and soon we heard the tv on.
He came in shortly after she had finished and couldnt mince words saying that I really did stink! He continued waiting for me to be finished and mom finally told him again that I wouldnt be able to play today. I wouldnt be able to go outside. He didnt seem to comprehend the problem. He continued watching as mom put on the what I called the 'curler helmet' which buckled under my chin, a clear heavy plastic 'waving cap', which I would wear for many hours, often sleeping with it overnight. As she released me from the stool, she thought it would be ok to play, in my bedroom. But no horseplay. And as soon as we started climbing the stairs, he pushed me saying he didnt know I was a girl! I lashed back at him and we scuffled as we reached the room, until mom came in and warned me not to mess up the curlers. (it was a threat that I took quite real). He continued to look at me, his eyes crawling over my head at the wound curlers. I felt impotent, vulnerable to use adult terms. I couldnt do anything about it. I could only try to find some point of boyhood and get him to understand that I wasnt a girl.
We even fell to sleep together and as the day continued as we played board games, he wanted to go outside, and play basketball, but I warned him that I wouldnt be able to go out. He pressed my mom for us to go outside, just outside on the driveway, but she didnt go for it. She told him that she still needed to set my hair and he looked at me questioning and very puzzled. He continued to think even though it was getting late, I'd still be able to go outside. However, he seemed quite shocked as I sat getting the curlers out, and being rewound in the small dime size rollers, each one with a roller bobbi pin holding them. He watched with a shock in his eyes. He continued to shake his head and ask dumb questions. Most of the questions I didnt want to answer. The women just continued with the winding. Suddenly, he went to the living room, and we heard the door slam. Mom said he was riding his bike away. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief, and I was quite concerned that he'd be telling friends and although he went to a different school, it wouldnt be long before all the kids found out that mom had been giving me a permanent. The secret that had gone on and would go on for a few years more, was something that even my older brother lied to kids, neighbor friends, in why I couldnt play with the other kids.
Most of the kids may have had some reason to question WHY my hair looked different on Monday after a permanent over the weekend, but they never seemed to think of a BOY getting his hair curled with them. Thankfully perhaps, because she curled my hair continously, it didnt go from straight to curly, but for restructuring and not change. I could never understand WHY I needed a permanent, because after the terrible curling, it looked fairly like it always did.
I slept in the small plastic rollers, buffed by two hairnets and lacked sleep thinking about my friend and what problems he could cause for me. When he didnt come over the next day, and it was at least two weeks before I saw him with friends playing in a park, I didnt know what to say to him, hopefully to keep quiet. He asked me if my mom had given me any more permanents. I dont think he really understood. He asked me quite bluntly "did you Want a permanent?" I quickly told him I did NOT! It wasnt MY idea! "Why didnt you fight her?" "If my mother had tried to give ME a permanent, I would have hit her!"  I couldnt say anything more. I felt helpless. As if he didnt think I had been fighting for all these years?
11 Responses Nov 23, 2010

Loved your story i heard of tonette being the younger version of toni. Had my hair permed several times secretly loved it. Me me feel like a girl but hard to explain to boys in my class.

EMIL: I just wanted to note that I just joined a new group (really new), "I remember my first perm" and hope to be writing a new story soon. THANKS

Thanks! Emil.. I certainly never felt 'lucky' as a boy growing up. If there was anything more negative than being just the opposite, thats how I felt through those years. I could never have grasped that other boys would have been looking at the 'girlish' hair curling as being anything else. Halloween costumes usually meant a hobo, clown, pirate. I fought very hard trying to 'stay' a boy as I did feel my mother was trying to 'turn me into a girl', my knowledge of sex and biology lacking with abundant rumor. I was determined that I would NEVER wear a dress, she would NEVER change my name, and I really liked 'being a boy', and to this day, cant really fathom why.<br />
Perhaps I saw that girls didnt have the opportunities that boys did. Boys could become President, MailMen, PoliceMen, etc. It was a very male oriented decade.

Thank you for sharing another of your amazing hair curling stories, I was curious if having your hair curled most of the time, if Halloween gave your mom some complete dress-up ideas?, or was it confined to just the hair? You were a very lucky little boy, this coming from someone who was deprived of such experiences, thank you,<br />

I have read FAT BOY and what a powerful story that was! I think that 'hair interest' depends how it has been presented to us in our youth, to girls as well as boys. How often do you see someone in the street who, if only they regulary washed their hair,and bought themselves a brush and used it, would have wonderful looking hair? OK, so I suppose that I will now be inundated with comments saying 'There is a lot more to life than hair!' and up to a certain point I agree, of course, but, how we look does say something about ourselves, especially as neat an appearance as possible can help us to look more presentable and acceptable to how other people view us, whether they be family, friends, work colleagues, or, perhaps even more importantly these days, potential employers.

Thanks so much WASHING MY HAIR! I hope you will read my other story FAT BOY, which will give you more insight to how I felt 'at the time'.. I actually DID become "friends" with the Tonette and other "little girl home permanents." Permanents and especially hair sets became quite a fetish for me at late puberty, and my exploration into permanent waves I blamed on my hair falling out. Until I saw my male cousins. So, now I wear it short and with several illnesses have drawn my sexual output to zero, which I dont mind at all. I'm still very interested in men and children getting their hair set(women too!) . Would love to read more about your thoughts and expirences. Lots of guys would like to know too!

That is an amazing story. I am a lady, born in London in 1953 and was taken to the salon as a treat by my mother. You can read my story on my 'washingmyhair' page and I fell in love with the salon experience although I only had a shampoo and set, not a perm. I remember one of my schoolfriend's mother giving her a perm in the front room when I went to visit and it excited me at the time, knowing that she had had her hair washed first, because I did enjoy having my hair washed by my mother.<br />
How do you feel about your hair now and how do you wear it?<br />
Best wishes<br />

Thanks Dot!

I don't think I have enough hair to have perm =D<br />
<br />
Interesting story.

NEWGUY: As an adult I can share your enthusiasm, however as a boy, forced, not as punishment, but as everyday grooming, I could hardly be expected to find compliance with that related so strongly with girls and girlish beauty aids.

I was actually born 1950, Its true as my memory serves, I had to limit the space so many details have been left out and I have many incidents which took place in those years. I am planning to write followups although I'm not sure how the readership will accept them. In the past and present, I have been in writing and e mail contact with many guys who would have given their right arms and both left feet to have expirenced a permanent as a boy. However, they seem to be living as an adult and dont understand social taboo's of the short hair 50's. I dont like to fictionalize anything to do with my hair curling and try to explain what happened to ME and how I felt. Certainly, I never wanted a permanent, never asked for it nor did I ever Enjoy them. Love to write to you. You were so lucky to have been born to a later era.