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Friday, February 8, 2013

And It Only Cost Four Dollars


I am traveling back in time. 

I am sitting, as patiently as I am able, white-stockinged legs jutting out before me. 

There will be black patent shoes later, shiny Mary Janes that make delightful sounds when sped across a linoleum floor.  I look down at my plump, pink arms, dimpled fingers lifting up and down, up and down on my knees.

The back of my neck grows uncomfortably warm.

“Owwwww,” I say.

My mother knows, of course.  What she does not know cannot be measured.

She leaves the room, returns with a damp washrag and arranges it between the hair dryer’s air hose and the tender skin at the nape of my neck.

“All better?” she says.

“All better,” I say.

I open my eyes. 

And the General Electric Portable Hair Dryer roars.

I found it at a garage sale.  Four bucks.  Four bucks for a trip backward in time.

I would’ve paid that much just to stand there and smell its plastic, new-doll smell. 

Portable Hair Dryer.  “Portable” in that you are free to “port” it just as far as the electrical cord will allow – in other words, a little less than three feet. 

In the world the dryer came from, a world where hair dryers had stood as pieces of furniture, a heated-air helmet on a sturdily built stand, this updated, 1960s-style version is indeed portable in that you can sit under it from any room in the house.

And in today’s world, it doubles as a tether.

I’ve damp-set my hair, rolled it in the largest rollers I have.  My aunts used frozen orange-juice cans, but real rollers work just as well.  I pull the nylon bonnet carefully over the curlers, pull the laces at the nape of my neck tight, place a damp cloth between the air hose that will soon be too warm and the tender skin. 

I look, for all the world, like an astigmatic marshmallow.

I plug it in, turn it on “medium”.  Its utter lack of portability requires that I sit still, only the roar of the circulating air and my fingers thrumming my knees to keep me company.

And so I close my eyes. 

And I travel back in time.  

29 comments:

George Turnbull said...

D'ya know I can remember my sister plundering one of her first wage packets to buy one of those.

In the UK though, we were more advanced and the power lead was over 3 yards long.

Finally I have found something that, although not 'bigger' than it's American equivalent, certainly was better!

Simply Suthern said...

Ahhh, Back in time. I remember my dad getting my mom one that set on the table and it opened up and you just sat under it. We were amazed for days.

File that under the good ole days.

Shelly said...

You took me on that little trek with you, all the way to the damp cloth on the back of the neck.

Thank you.

fmcgmccllc said...

Ah yes, fun times. The bonnet was so much improved over the hood.

Pearl said...

Gives you such nice smooth curls, too. :-)

Janice said...

If you want a free 'new doll smell' go check out a yucca flower. They smell amazingly like Barbie doll heads. (not that I go around smelling Barbie dolls...)

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

". . . and smell its plastic, new-doll smell."
You made my day with this phrase. :)

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I remember the year my sister and I both got home hair dryers.....you undid the clips and pulled up on the 'bonnet' part so that the arm rose, locked it in place, situated it at the edge of the table, pulled your chair up and sat under the bonnet just like at the beauty salon. I had that thing for years...they never die you know.

jenny_o said...

Oh my goodness, my mom had one of those too. And I got to use it, too. And yes, it tended to run hot at the hose region ...

$4 for time travel. Can't beat that!

terlee said...
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terlee said...
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terlee said...

Too funny, and cool.

I'm picturing you, time traveling with your astronaut bonnet, though thankfully for us, you are tethered to this time and space...

Jackie said...

Love the memories that smells evoke... Thank you for sharing this with me!

Kana said...

Was the dryer bigger on the inside?
DOCTOR WHO JOKE I'M SORRY

Ms Sparrow said...

It has been decades since I used a hair dryer! If all goes well, I will be able to keep that record going!

Joanne Noragon said...

That's some time travel. In college, in 1961, we all went down to dinner together, at the same time. I left my room and turned the other direction. No idea why. Lynn's door was closed. I knocked. No answer. I opened the door. Something I would never do. She was asleep on her bed, under her pink portable. And already burned. From time to time I think about that evening I turned left instead of right.

Juli said...

I think I'll just be good with straight hair, thanks.

But those trips down memory lane are fun aren't they?

vanilla said...

Pearl's Time Machine! Happy travels. Would you believe there is a professional piece of furniture in our house for such (non-)activities?
I have even been pressed into the squirting-on duties. Oh, I am good at so many things.

Daisy said...

I remember those portable hair dryers very well. We had one the whole time I was a kid. Nice memories! Happy weekend to you, Pearl. :-)

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! I adored this flashback. Lovely, and gently curled at the edges. Indigo x

Meeling said...

Fabulous journey..thanks for the trip back!

Leenie said...

Talk about warping time! You can make a whole reel of scented movie roll through my head just by using your words. Wow.

Stephen Hayes said...

I remember my mother buying one of these. I remember looking at it and thinking flying cars were right around the corner.

jeanie said...

My mum had one of those also - we begged for the special privelege of getting our hair done!!

Rose L said...

I have memories of the foam-covered wire curlers mom put in my hair and how the ends would poke my head, But I loved the curls, which only lasted a few hours.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Isn't it cool when we can travel back in time so easy......

River said...

I had one of those! Probably a later model with a plastic bonnet and the motor part had a long strap so you could carry it over your shoulder and walk around doing your housework while drying your hair. The cord was about ten feet long but if you plugged it into an extension cord too, then you really could go all over the house. I almost never used it though, because of the hot spot where the hose connected to the bonnet.

Tempo said...

Lovely remembering there Pearl, thinking about growing up the youngest of seven with four teenage sisters...smiled all the way through.

the walking man said...

What's a hairdryer?