Temporarily Permanent

“Why do they call it a permanent if you have to have one every three months?” asked my father-in-law as my cute little mother-in-law walked by, sporting her freshly curled hair-do.  “That’s a good question.” I replied.  “It’s for sure that when you get one, it doesn’t easily go away, so I guess that would make it permanent temporarily.”

Lonnie and I often have intellectual discussions like this and have solved many of the world’s greatest mysteries in this manner.  On this occasion I had to concede that I don’t know why these hair dos are called permanents. Not that I haven’t had my fair share of experiences with the salon and home perms.  My hair has been chopped, cropped, flipped, and flopped more ways than I care to admit.  I didn’t learn until a few years ago that someone with naturally frizzy hair like I do should never get a perm!  I went to the salon and told the stylist that I wanted a body perm.  It would have served me better if I had attempted that (body perm) instead of going for a lift for my hair.  She told me that the perm she would be using on my hair was called “instant satisfaction” or something equally as fraudulent.  I knew by the look of horror on her face as she took out the curlers that my hair was in serious trouble and that I was going to be far from satisfied, instantly or otherwise!  The frail wisps of hair that was coming out of the follicles on my scalp looked like it had been put through a wringer washer while I held a finger in an electrical socket.  I walked out of that salon at least a foot taller and wider!  To make things worse, we were on our way to the beach for a week.  Salt water and ocean breeze, yeah this is just what my mop needed, more heighth, width, and frizz!  It was months before my hair recovered from it.  That was my last permanent.

You’d think that I would have learned what those chemicals have the potential to do.  After all, it was I who volunteered to give my best friend, Kathy Zimmerman, a Toni home permanent.  We had been best friends since second grade.  We had grown up together and we were now in 7th grade.  I told Kathy and her mom that I had lots of experience with perms.  I had experience getting them, not giving them!  I just failed to leave out that tidbit of information.  They both agreed that since I had so much experience, I should be the one to do the job.  How hard could it be, I reasoned?  All you had to do was follow the directions on the box, right?

I began Kathy’s at home makeover.  Eagerly, I wrapped big wads of hair around the Spoolies and poured the permanent solution to them.  We put the cap on her head and set about to play, apply make-up, talk about boys, or whatever twelve year old girls do, which I’m sure included lots of giggling. I came to the conclusion that if the package said to leave the solution on for 10 minutes, then 20 would surely be better.  When I took out the curlers, I too had a look of horror on my face, quickly followed by stifled giggles.  The curls looked exactly as I had sculpted them, in huge wads!  Even after washing Kathy’s hair, the curls stayed separated!  Her hair was very fine, which made it that much worse.  We thought maybe it would loosen up overnight and be fine for school the next morning.  Wrong!  It was worse!  We couldn’t cut out the perm, because her hair was already short.  We would have had to shave it and that wasn’t an option.

I really didn’t want Mrs. Zimmerman to see the mess I had created, but there was no escaping her watchful eye.  She tried to hold back the laughter and tell Kathy that it would grow out.

Kathy begged not to go to school that day.  I dreaded it for her.  As we arrived at the school I glanced at Kathy’s face.  It was not going to be a good day for her.  Sure enough, the kids were cruel.  I wish I could say that I wasn’t among them, but every time I looked at her I had to hide my head and laugh.  It was REALLY bad! I didn’t give any more perms until I had children of my own.  They still haven’t forgiven me!

When Beth was about nine years old, I left her at a salon to get a perm.  I came back to find hair so big that it wouldn’t fit through the door.  I jerked her up out of the salon chair, growled something at the stylist, and left before she could do any more damage to her.  Beth didn’t speak to me for days and I was furious at the salon for making me re-live the whole Kathy Zimmerman ordeal.  Some would call it payback.

When it comes to fitness, I have learned that nothing is permanent.  What one research study finds, another will disprove.  Most health and fitness issues are theoretical.  Anatomy and physiology stay the same, but nutrition, exercise modalities, exercise trends, they all change.  Nutrition seems to be the worst.  Most of us can recall the healthy habit of eating things from each of the four basic food groups.  From that evolved the Food Guide Pyramid.  The Pyramid came under attack and has been the subject of much debate and controversy in the fitness industry in recent years.  We now have the revised Food Guide Pyramid.  So, it’s like I said…it’s all theoretical.  Nothing is absolute about health and fitness.

Research and trends can be beneficial to us.  They keep us on our toes and encourage us to try new things, which can improve our health and increase our potential for longevity.  Change is good as it relates to fitness.  A stale exercise program cannot bring about changes to our body or even help us to maintain our fitness.  The body adapts to the demands that we place upon it.  We have to apply the SAID principle.  SAID is an acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.  Simply put, to improve our fitness level we have to apply a physiological demand beyond what the body is used to in order to see results.  We need to periodically mix up our routines.  Exercise more frequently, kick up the intensity a notch or two, or go for longer bouts of exercise will do the trick.  A word of caution, don’t increase the intensity of the exercise and the length of time that you do the exercise at the same time, because this could overstress your body.  Other than that, any changes of frequency, intensity, or duration to your exercise routine will jump start the metabolism and bring about improvement.

So you see, fitness isn’t even a permanent condition.  It requires constant and consistent work. Hair changes too.  Mostly we lose it, it thins, or changes color with age or chemicals.  Maybe permanent means that something lasts for a while and then changes to something else permanent.  Maybe we could coin a new term, “Toni” from the old home permanents, meaning that nothing in this world is ever “Toni”, things are always changing.  I say amen to this, otherwise Kathy, Beth, and I would never have had the chance to have healthy, straight locks again!

Lonnie, I hope this answers your question, because this discussion is permanently closed…at least temporarily.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health & Fitness, Story

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