Tag Archives: grandchildren




That’s this blog. It is enough to curl your toes. Fry your brain. Crimp your resolve. Its roots go deep into our psyches . . . and it ends with . . . well, it ends with split ends. Yes, dear reader. This is about home permanents.

Who on earth invented these? And why-oh-why did they ever call them permanents? Any woman who has ever suffered through these will tell you that home perms are actually “home temps.” Enough said. Every woman was deluded into thinking that she could achieve beauty shop results with this box of chemicals. What we dreamed about and the reality of the “do” is nicely illustrated below.

Better yet, which twin is Lily Tomlin’s mother?


I’ve alluded more than once to my mother’s proclivity for the Miss Toni permanents that she forced upon me during my grade school years. THE formative years, I might add. No wonder. This explains a lot about my growing up into an unsure woman, always paranoid about my looks. Too fat, too freckled, too toothy, too red-haired, too brown-eyed all the way to not enough eyelashes, not enough neck, not enough boobs (the early years anyway), not enough, not enough, not enough. And I lay it all at the altar of the dreaded, punitive Miss Toni. In researching for this blog, I discovered that I have mistakenly called this “Miss Toni” when it was actually a “Tonette” perm . . . which was a kid’s version of the adult “Toni” perm. It sat on the shelf next to the Party Curl and the Richard Hudnet (a cousin to Richard Wingnut).


Tonette sounds French, oui? Or perhaps like a member of a backup group for the Shirelles. French, my eye! If anything, I felt tribal in an African-sort of way. And speaking of international issues, another finding during my research phase is the realization that this trend was not limited to the United States. Behold the product from the Land Down Under!


Curly Pet? Really? And I thought Tonette was demeaning. My mother, who actually had a diploma from beauty school, deserves my forgiveness. After all, she was only trying to get me to look more like Shirley Temple. I think the only term that could describe my transformation into a Shirley Temple look-alike could be epic failure. The Terri Lee doll that was so popular in the Fifties had a mop of curls and could get a new perm right alongside her “mommy.” Of course I had a Terri Lee. I suppose this was also intended to make the child feel more inclined to “lean in” to the permanent (thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, although this is probably nowhere in your best-seller). But the perms persisted.

How much did mom pay that boy to be in that picture with all those Terri Lee dolls?

Hope dies hard in the hearts of mothers who are hoping to mold their unlikely daughters into beauty queens. One advantage: I am easily spotted in all my grade school pictures. I was usually one of the tallest kids in class AND I had that mop of hair. [Yes, Mother. Wherever you are, I forgive you. Sort of.]


In addition to the hair, my mother bought clothes for me called “Chubbies” and “Chubbettes,” another a la Francaise attempt to put glitter on a turd. (Phrase I’m borrowing from my daughter since it truly describes this like nothing else I can dream up.) This would be another entire blog.

Chubettes                  Chubbies

Truthfully, I’m not sure how I can even hold my mother mildly accountable when I perpetuated the torture by giving my daughter a home perm right before Junior Camp at Romoca (campground located in Palmer Lake, Colorado). She was angry and humiliated, with good reason. Her head was the size of a regulation basketball with all that fluff flying out from the roots. She reluctantly went to camp, knowing she would be the target of a number of jokes, many of those revolving around disparaging comments regarding the Fiji Islands. She was even more distressed when she discovered that the president of our church (Wallace B. Smith) would be paying a visit to the camp. Stacy still claims to be scarred from this entire debacle.

1989, The Summer of Her Discontent. Pictured with her sleek-haired cousins, Amy and Tyler
Stacy’s First Permanent (and my nomination for 1983 Mommie Dearest)

One final note. I seem to be an equal opportunity family member. “Back in the day” when Bob and I were newly married, everyone-but-everyone wanted an Afro hair-do. Bob and I were no exception to that cultural nuance and both succumbed to the chemical home perms to achieve the look. A canny friend (who was herself a beautician) gave Bob a perm and thoughtfully (tee-hee) took his picture which she presented in a sweet little frame. She gave me a perm as well.

You know this is a beautician’s house by the handy broom. Thanks, Sue Cox!

If the family that perms together stays together has merit, then we are the poster children. After forty years, I believe I can state with some certainty that Bob and I are permanent, like peanut butter and jelly, England and the Beatles, love and kisses, and of course, glamour and Tonette. Sigh. Those WERE the good old days, huh sweetheart?

Foo Manchu and his favorite squeeze

Jumping the Shark

One Big Happy . . .
One Big Happy . . .

As one considers the many sources of information which are called prophetic or prescient or even psychic, I have to admit that the old 70’s TV show Happy Days may have hit the nail on the head with predictive titles. Indeed, as I look back on my life in the 1950’s and 1960’s I find that it literally reeks with happy! (Take that, Pharrell Williams . . . that’s 20 years of happy!) Although it sounds too good to be real, my memories are filled with lemonade stands, troll dolls and playing-cards affixed to my bike with clothes pins. On a good day, my bike had playing cards AND plastic pop beads on the spokes.

Peace, love and troll dolls

Yes, I was very cool. That was the word for me . . . at least in the 1950’s. OK. I was less than cool; especially with the Miss Toni permanent. In fact, here is total uncool: me with the hair perm AND in a squaw dress. Made by my mother. However, they were cool then. Really. I mean, does it get better than rick-rack?

Cool or uncool

I’m finding that many of the things that would have been easily acceptable in the “Happy Days” are not so acceptable to my seven year old grandson. He sees right through the child psychology that my mother wielded so well. For example, let’s evaluate Pixie’s Delight. I do hope my brother, Steve, reads this blog as he will be the only other person on the earth who would have been hoodwinked by this sham, wrought upon us innocents by our mother.


Whenever my mother wasn’t sure whether or not we would be “down” with consuming a new food, she simply called it Pixie’s Delight. Below are some pictures of Pixie’s Delight.


The name Pixie’s Delight still sounds just, well . . . just delightful! While thinking, “Will I ever learn?” I must admit that the old pull to consume something with that name is just as strong as it was in 1954 when I was seven years old. So, I thought it would be a good ploy to wrest upon Jordan, while getting him to consume what he considered questionable foods. After cooking up a scrumptious-but-possibly-dubious-dinner of butternut squash ravioli with maple cream sauce, I served it to His Royal Highness by introducing it as “Pixie’s Delight.” He frowned at the food and then shot me a most skeptical look. It was, actually, a withering look.

Jordan: “Hmmm. It looks like ravioli to me.”

Gigi:       “Well, yes. But it is Pixie ravioli.” (Truth meter plummets.)

Jordan: “But it is orange. What is WRONG with it?”

Gigi:       “Well, Pixies like their ravioli with butternut sq*@^*&#sh in it.” (Gigi mumbles, knowing the word squash is a possible Pixie downer.)

Jordan: “Butternut what?? What did you say?”

Gigi, coming clean: “Butternut squash. But it has maple cream sauce on it! So yummy!”

Jordan: “Seriously? Maple belongs on waffles. No way.”

Gigi, pleading:   “Won’t you just try one bite? I am sure you will like it.”

Jordan, looking more skeptical than ever: “Why? Because some dumb Pixie likes it? Seriously, Gigi. Pixies are not real. Neither are fairies. Your mother should have told you that.”

Pixies . . .
Fairies . . .
And Trolls, oh my!

Do I dare tell him that if my mother had been so transparent with the Pixie information it would have totally blown the Delight ruse down the drain . . . along with the Brussels sprouts?


In that moment I realized that Pixie’s Delight had aged, just like I. We were part of the over-the-hill gang. Perhaps if I had called them Zombie Pustules they would have been more tempting. Let’s face it. The times have changed.

And that, friends, brings us to the title of this blog: Jumping the Shark. Thanks to my daughter, Stacy, for pointing out the uncanny relationship between Happy Days and Pixie’s Delight. Jumping the shark is an idiom created by Jon Hein that was used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality, signaled by a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of gimmick in an attempt to keep viewers’ interest, and which is taken as a sign of desperation. The phrase is based on a scene from a fifth-season episode of Happy Days when Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis. The usage of “jump the shark” has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment when a brand, design, franchise or creative effort’s evolution declines.

Does he shower in that leather jacket? If he can water ski, why is he selling reverse mortgages?

So, with that, I must bid a sad adieu to Pixie’s Delight. For all her comely beauty and poetic name, I fear she has jumped the shark as an entrée. Dear Pixie: I shall remember you fondly . . . especially when I eat my asparagus, grapefruit, and Brussels sprouts. However, I must warn you . . . the liver jumped the shark way before you did! Take care, my winged friend.