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RICH: Hair happens to be a pretty big thing in the South

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

In looking back at photos, I am left to wonder if I have ever had a truly good hair day. I'm amazed because when I see the snapshots, I think, "Now, I'm sure that when I left home that day, I felt pretty good about my hair. How could it look like that?"

Mama was notorious for grumbling comments about my hair. "You know," she said on more than one occasion, "I liked you hair a lot better back when you used to comb it."

Maybe she was right.

I spent many years, tousling the natural curls in my hair with my fingers, moving pieces of hair from one place to another by pinching it between my thumb and pointer finger.

Curls have a mind of their own. I am famous for taking my hair and fluffing it with my hands then spraying it. I haven't carried a comb in my purse since I was in college. But the thing is that if you buy the right hairspray, you don't have to worry about combing your hair through the day. It'll stay put.

How do you know when you have the right hairspray? Easy. If you are constantly washing the nozzle under hot water to clear it because the heavy, sticky spray has clogged it, you are dealing with the perfect hairspray for Southern hair. After all, we Southern women are known for our hair.

I still laugh about the time, a few years ago, when I was introduced to a Berkley student from California, who was doing his doctoral thesis on Southern culture. He had rightly decided that the best introduction into our way of life was to buy a used camper and travel the NASCAR Cup circuit for a full season. He was an affable fellow named James, who had managed to quickly make friends among the close-knit inner ranks of the sport.

"So, what have you learned thus far?" I asked, after we shook hands and chatted for a moment.

He grinned and brushed a tendril of long hair away from his eyes. "Well, I learned that you Southern women have this thing about hair. All of you have beauty queen hair." He started laughing. "See, you have it, too." Translate this into, "You use the right kind of hairspray."

Amazed, I shook my head. "They gave you a grant to come South, just to learn that?"

"It's part of the culture. And from what I've seen, it's an important part of being Southern."

I can't disagree with that -- it is important. Which is why it bugs me that I can't find a photo where I have great looking hair.

A few years ago, I did a television interview show with the adorable and timeless Dick Clark. I am happy to say that on that day, my hair was perfect. I know this because the show's hairdresser asked for styling advice. But, as my luck goes, I don't have a picture of it so that I can't prove to folks that I have had at least one perfect hair day in my life.

Maybe I should pull the video out, download it on the Internet and let y'all see that I was once capable of having a wonderful hair day.

Mama, though, always kept me in place when it came to my hair. Once, we had attended a family get together up in the mountains. As we sauntered back to the car, Mama said, "Ronda, just as soon as we can, I want us to come back and see these folks."

"Really?" I asked. "You enjoyed it that much?"

"No, I didn't really enjoy it." She stopped and shook her head. "I'd just like for all of 'em to see you sometime when your hair looks halfway decent."

Gee, I miss her encouragement.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.

Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.