My father, a pseudo Beach Boy whose mane in every baby photo is the color of a lemon tart, is the true pioneer of all great hairstyles. His junior high class photos prove that he was wearing his hair straight and at shoulder-length long before Hanson was even conceived. Once feathered and fluffed like a Bee Gee, my father’s locks shimmied in glitter at disco dives. His hair transformed into a spiked croquet landscape of blonde rods and golden grass once the mid 80s hit and he got his first major job as a cameraman. He was spiking and waxing his hair long before Ricky Martin was even in Menudo.
My mother, a Jewish Sofia Loren from Long Island, wore her hair bigger and darker than any other girl at PS 182. In high school, everyone loved her Donna Summer bangs and teased curls, so big her senior class photo had to be re-framed in order to fit the top of her hair. When she met my father, she had tamed her tresses to a Linda Ronstadt flip to accommodate her job as a secretary, but after she married, her mane grew vertically to resemble Elvira’s.
Though we were both born brunettes, my sister has turned blonde like my father and I have often turned my hair black like my mother. When we were kids, my sister called me Brillo Pad and I called her Crusty, to name the morning frizz that formed around her forehead. Our biggest fights broke out in the bathroom, over the hair dryer or the circular battery-operated hairbrush we ordered off an infomercial. It was supposed to make our hair smoother and straighter, but it only raveled mine up into knots.
After lice checks in elementary school, I would call my mom from the office to come redo my hair, for I could not be seen without a ponytail so tight it pulled my eyes nearer to my ears. In high school, my sister’s teachers nicknamed her Beauty Salon, while I experimented with peroxide and Manic Panic dye. As a sophisticated businesswoman, my sister’s do is a little less blonde today than it was in high school, and mine a little browner, mostly due to laziness. My parents’ hair is still bigger and bushier than the most pampered rock star and my mother never goes anywhere without her hairspray.