Big Hair and Histamines
“These Kleenex are too flagrant, they always make me sneeze,” she said as she added yet another wadded puff to the pile in the trash can beside her bed. “Why in the world would they add perfume to something people with allergies blow their noses into?”
“Yes, it’s a fragrant abuse of medical logic,” I said, but she didn’t get the joke. She was too miserable and so I just let her malapropism slide by as I had so many times in our long friendship.
The air in this season of new growth was full of pollen. We indulged our roommate by keeping the windows of our college quad closed at all times and we had long ago relegated all our perfume to bottom drawers or trash cans. In those long-ago days of “big hair” when there was no such thing as unscented anything, we took the calculated risk of using hair spray, but only by climbing out onto the fire escape, pulling the window shut behind us and waiting a good five minutes before entering the room again. And this only if our allergy-prone friend was not in the room.
Occasionally, she caught a whiff of us as we passed in the game room or dining room, but she didn’t mention it. We knew that look, though. Only vanity won out over our need not to irritate the nasal fibers of our good friend. No one would miss our perfume, but in terms of hair, no girl dared to defy the norm. Bubbly, big, smooth and helmet-solid—that was the hair-fashion decree of the sixties.