When I was young I had a good head of hair. I know because people always admired it. My father called it ‘my crowning glory’. It was thick, lustrous and auburn in colour. There were more natural hi-lights in it than in a New England autumn landscape. The hair colour had skipped a generation; my parents and siblings ranged from dark mousy to almost black. Mind you when the boys had an eye to fashion and grew sideburns or a beard, the hair below mid ear level appeared as Ginger! My colour came from my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather.

A good haircut once every five or six weeks made the job of grooming very easy. I managed it well over the years. Because of the weight I never had it longer than shoulder length. As I grew older I changed the style to a shorter look. It suited my face.

In my young working life before we had showers, I washed my hair every second day, usually in the evening and once towelled dry I put in rollers to control my curly mop. It was often still damp when I went to bed with the rollers still in place. Pride feels no pain! In those days despite the torture I managed to sleep. I wonder if I tried the rollers now, would I sleep any better. 🙄 Sure it might distract me from my other aches and pains.

The rollers remind me of a family wedding. One of my brothers was getting married to a friend of mine down the country. We, the groom’s family completely booked the local hotel. We arrived the evening before the big day. I was sharing a room with my Aunt Mo. Like at most weddings, we were reunited with relations that we had not seen since the last wedding or funeral, you know how it goes.

Now when our gang get together the craic is mighty. The boys were on pints or shorts. I at that time drank Vodka. The groom had asked his best friend to be best man, but the friend was not due to leave Dublin until the morning of the wedding. Youngest brother, a grooms-man, was lined up to step in if the best man was delayed for any reason. As the evening went on the stories flowed like the drink. It was a typical Irish wedding.

My Aunt had settled herself beside me and she was enjoying the fun no end. I was keeping an eye on youngest brother. If he was needed in the morning to take on the role of best man, a clear head was important. He was on the Vodka. The rounds were coming fast and furious at this stage. I began a game of chess with the glasses. As I finished a drink I set the empty glass in the centre of the table and pulled a full one closer to me. I also played a ‘sneaky’ when everyone was talking. I pulled one of my brother’s glasses my direction as well.

At one stage there were about 4 or 5 glasses of Vodka in front of me. My aunt was getting worried about me and asked where I got all the drink. “Say nothing and watch!” I whispered. Not content, she asked again. I pleaded with her to say no more. It took her some time to realise what I was at. I sank a fair amount of booze that night and it was a long evening. Being residents in the hotel the bar stayed open as long as we wanted it to. My Uncles were telling stories to beat the band and nobody wanted to break up the party.

Finally bedtime was reached and my aunt and I went to our room. She slept and so did I. When she awoke, she looked across the room to find that I was sitting up in bed, bright as a button, putting in my rollers for the hour before we were due to go down to breakfast.

“How can you do that.” she asked.

“Do what?” I said.

“Put those rollers in your hair while your head is pounding.” she said in a whisper.

“My head is not pounding.” I announced cheerfully.

“But you had all that drink last night, WHY? She questioned.

“Remember the best man was not travelling until today and little brother is on standby to step up to the plate if needed.”

“I remember.” she nodded.

“Well it was important that he should have a clear head in case he is needed” I said.

“But what about you?” she asked all concerned.

“I am not part of the wedding party and it would not matter anyway if I had a sore head. Nobody except you saw what I did last night. It was better than causing a fuss.”

My head was fine, I enjoyed a full Irish breakfast and then we prepared for the day ahead.

The best man arrived, the wedding went to plan and I was complimented on my beautiful hair all day.

The autumn glory has almost gone now and my tresses are turning to winter snow. With age I have a new problem. When I waken these days I have somehow adopted a Mohican hairstyle. Why?  I wonder. You get to see right to the scalp with the surrounding hair spread like sun rays all around it.  Brushing doesn’t fix it, I have to wash my hair before it will sit properly.

Does anyone know if our heads get heavier on the pillow as we age? Does it only happen to women?

27 thoughts on “Vanity

  1. Rhyleysgranny

    I love it……………heavy aged heads lol:) Is it the brain trying to remember things that causes it do you think? Well exercise increases the other things around your body so why not?

    My daughter’s wedding was of a similar arrangement. She was married from Clontarf Castle in Dublin. The men in my life all drink beer. I think if I’d been seen drinking pints I would have had some strange looks no? I left them to their own heavy heads the next day.

    I like your phrase ‘my autumn tresses have turned to winter snow’ I shall use that in the future I think. I too had long thick auburn hair. My family were red heads. When the snow started to fall I turned to blonde for a while but no longer. My hair hasn’t seen colour for a long time. 😉

  2. Rowan Manahan

    Lovely pictures painted in my head by your writing in this post Mar.

    As to the hair/age/mind-of-its-own phenomenon, I can only concur. I woke up this morning doing my uncanny impersonation of a cockatoo. This never used to happen to me. I suspect the muck they now call shampoo is the culprit.

  3. Kate

    I agree although I like to call my morning look ‘windswept and interesting’ … My Mum used to call hers ‘a barley stack’ so I guess its a family thing too!

  4. Grannymar Post author

    Rhyleysgranny – I know Clontarf Castle, we often adjourned there after a swimming session in the CRC pool. Long story for another day perhaps… I saw so many go the ‘dead straw’ route over the years, so I decided a shine with natural hi-lights were better for me.

    Rowan – Are you getting old? 🙄

  5. Rumuuser

    For most men, God compensates by taking the hair away and lightening the weight on the pillow. But what He taketh away, He giveth in some other way. In my case, He has given me a luxurious beard which is the only thing that listens to me. It comes when I say come, and goes when I say go. It stays short when I want it to, or grows longer when I tell it to. Nice to have something that listens to you.

    A clear head after all that vodka? I bet that you just threw them away in the flower pot. Should have seen that in the morning!

  6. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana, NONE of the Vodka went anywhere except into this weed! I contemplated spilling a few but they would only be replaced.

    At one time in my life I was known to drink straight Gin, since the hosts never had tonic. I still had a clear head.

  7. bikehikebabe

    I shaved my head to make swatches to add to my thinning hair. (Wore a wig to cover.) I never bothered with adding the extra hair when I went out, because I was always in a hurry. My hair turned from gray to white so I couldn’t use the hair. Also the moths ate it.

    I shaved my hair again because I heard it’d grow in thicker. (Wore a wig.) It didn’t work.

  8. Baino

    I am still cursed with a mop of curly hair. How did we sleep with rollers in? And when I rise, I am greeted with what can only be described as ‘bed head’. Thank goodness for GHD straighteners. Brave woman going all that Vodka, I’d have been a basket case the next morning! And no, I have absolutely no idea what colour my hair is.

  9. suzen

    Interesting question you ask at the end of a very cute story! My hair is all askew in the morning too and had never thought it might be an aging heavy head. More like my whipping my pillow around in an effort to get comfortable all night. But then, maybe all the decades of memories really DO make our heads heavier….interesting!

  10. Grannymar Post author

    BHB – You say I make funny comments, if there was a prize it would surely go to you. Regularly you make my screen a blurr because of the tears of laughter in my eyes.

    Jean – That was back in the 70s, now after one glass of red wine my cheeks adopt the sun dried tomato blush! 🙄

    Baino – You have a head of hair, be thankful. Elly has this weird wish to see me tipsy before I die! 😆

  11. Grannymar Post author

    Suzen – welcome on board. I asked the question because it is a recent phenomenon. When I was younger I used to say to my husband and Elly, “NEVER let me go out looking like that!” Now I look like that and they are not here to tell me. I only know because my scalp feels sore.

  12. Maynard

    Ladies, here is the answer. Buz (shave) your heads and you will not have to worry about your doo. A buzzed head is in now, at least in the US. Yor hair(head) will always look good. No worry then, about a “heavy” head. “But a heavy head, is better than a “heavy heart”!!” My quote!

  13. wisewebwoman

    Very similar head tails, GM. My hair was my pride and joy too (enough to cover 2 beds my aunties used to say). Well it is thinning a bit now and I’ve tried every length with it and the best is shoulder length I find as I can tie it up. I use an organic henna to colour the nasty grey bits. I’m always afraid i’m going to look like those red haired old women with bright red accordion lipstick to match so I check with daughter and g-daughter regularly.
    I tie it back when I go to bed to avoid the look you have have cultivated so well – I do know what you mean. I wish I had the guts to go a grey elfin cut but my face would be too big for it.
    Sorry this is more of a post of my own, isn’t it.
    Anyways…….purple on the mohawk would be my advice.

  14. Brighid

    My hair was white early on and is fast returning to that color. Marymine’s hair was reddish brown as a girl, now we’re not sure what color it really is. A different shade of red each time we see her. Hummm, the mowhawk idea might be interesting. You go first.

  15. Grannymar Post author

    Maynard – I am cold enough without taking the thatch off the roof! 😆

    WWW – I asked a question and you were giving an answer, exactly what I wanted you to do. I do know a lady in thesde parts with very dark hair to which she has added a fuchsia splash at the front. It really suits her. My Elly is not behind the door in telling me if I get it wrong fashion-wise. When did she become my mother ❓

    Judy – I am off to the hairdressers later on so perhaps I will ask him.

    Brighid – I wonder… should I start a Facebook fan club page for the mowhawk hairstyle?

  16. chrisb

    Funny you should ask that question about hair, if only you could see how mine looks every morning (and I’m moulting like mad). It was never this bad when I was working-and what do people notice first why face and hair, of course. I’m off to have mine cut in an hour so for one day only it will look presentable.

  17. Grannymar Post author


    I too am off to be made beautiful. 🙄 When I sit in that chair Stuart asks the same question every time “What are we doing Today”? The answer is usually “Making me beautiful!” Last time he answered with “I know I am good, but I don’t DO miracles!” Thus began an hour of fun and banter between us.

  18. Grannymar Post author

    Conrad, next time add eggs to the blender for a good conditioner! 😉
    ‘Pride feels no pain!’ was a regular phrase uttered by my mother as she brushed or combed my tangled curls.

  19. Ursula

    Grannymar, having ingested your lament I am so glad that I have naturally (very) curly hair which always looks like, well, curls – no matter of time of day or night, wind factor or tearing it out as and when life calls for it. In fact I can go without combing it for days, I can even go to the hairdresser and nobody will notice the difference. What more can one ask for?

    It’s a long time off for me (ever the optimist) but do enjoy your Susan Sontag moment.


  20. Grannymar Post author

    Ursula – Curls and tangles I remember them well. As I age the hair has become straighter. Years of blow-drying perhaps?


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