My wife called me this week and said that she was taking the boys to her aunt’s beauty shop to get their hair cut. She then informed me that one of the boys, who shall remain nameless, wanted a perm. This brought back terrible memories for me. I have always had very thick, very straight hair with a cowlick on the right side. My entire childhood my mother tried to get my hair to do anything except what it wanted to do which is to be thick and straight. One day in the third grade my mother came into my room and said that we were going to a salon and that she is going to have a "wave" put in my hair. I didn’t know what any of that meant but I didn’t question it. To this day I am not sure that level of trust has been restored. We arrived at a beauty shop and began the process. I started to get a sinking feeling in my stomach as I realized we were not at a barber shop. They put rollers in my hair and after about 20 minutes under the hairdryer I knew there was more going on than a "wave". They took the rollers out and I had curly hair. I’m talking Ralph Mouth from Happy Days curly hair. It was unnatural. I protested, I may have wept I can’t remember.

It was a long ride home with the wind blowing through my loops and curls. Thank God my mother didn’t make any stops on the way home.

When we arrived at the house my ex-step-dad was in the living room. And let me just say this; I give him a lot of grief in these stories, deservedly so, but on this day for one brief shining moment he came through for me and had my back when I needed him the most. I remember it like it was yesterday. I walked into the living room, he did a double-take as he looked at my hair, then he looked into my eyes, back at my hair and then into my eyes again and said, "I’m not making him go to school like that."

That is when I learned about relaxer. Relaxer is a liquid that you can put in your hair that erases the horrible, horrible mistakes you have made with rollers and heat. Thank God for relaxer. My son who was going to do this to himself, on purpose, came to his senses and backed out at the last minute. I am glad because, his curls would have been self inflicted and I don’t think I could have kept a straight face.