Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mabel and Kemt

Once upon a time there was a princess with really curly hair, named Mabel.

When she was born, everybody went over to her parents' split-level castle, and brought gifts. Fancy ten-speed stroller with attached cappuccino maker, designer diapers, Baby's First Grant Proposal CD-ROM - you know the drill. But Mrs. Kemt, the hairdresser who lived across the street, was having a really Bad Hair Day and was not in a gifty mood. So she said that the little Princess was going to grow up and have Problem Hair. She would, in fact, be UN-Kemt.

And cackling with glee at her funny joke, the evil hair lady drifted off to snag a piece of wacky cake and duck out the back door.

Mabel's anxious parents bought her every kind of fancy shampoo, conditioner and mousse on the market, and her mother spent hours on Mabel's unruly hair. But Mabel liked her hair, and found the fuss rather tiresome.

One day, when she was a teenager, she wandered into a beauty parlor after school and found an old lady giving another old lady a blue rinse. "Let me try doing that," Mabel said, for she had never seen a person with blue hair before. But when she put her hands in the basin, her hair curled up and out in all sorts of funny angles and just stayed that way. The old hairdresser (who of course was Mrs. Kemt) laughed her head off, because she had been looking forward to this for a long time.

Mabel shrugged and went home to have a nap. She had never given two beans about her hair. It was her mom who was nutty about it. Mabel heaved a sigh and crashed out in her room.

It seemed like a hundred years later (but it was really about 20 minutes) when a large can of hairspray appeared like magic by her bedside. It was called Kemt Magic Mist and was under the illusion that it was an Enchanted Prince (but that is another story). "Hey, wake up, I need to restore your hair's lustre. On the double!"

Mabel sat up and rubbed her eyes. "Huh? What - how did a giant hairspray can get in here - Mooommm!! Mom sent you, didn't she?"

"No, no - see, you need to use me and then I turn into a handsome prince. Remember all the fairy tales? It's - errr - like that."

Mabel read the can label. "Hey - you must be related to that weirdo Mrs. Kemt across the street. No thanks - I like my hair just the way it is. Springy! Natural." She hopped out of bed and had a look in the mirror. "Just a little brushing and - see? Looks great." And indeed, with a little brushing, her hair (as if by magic) settled into its normal curls. "Bye now! I have to run."

"A grant proposal, I presume," said the Kemt Magic Mist, in as sarcastic a tone as the aerosol attachment would allow. And it heaved a sigh and went off in search of more manageable heads.

[Many thanks to VintageAds; this is from Vogue, May 1949.]


Buggys said...

I like the new banner. Love your blog.

Arlene deWinter said...

As a person with bad hair, unruly and curly or just even fuzzy sometimes, I salute you!
I rebel against flat hair! The 80's was fab. I was a pre-Raphaelite princess!
Curls represent freedom, joy, and naturalness. Not all women are flattered by stick straight hair.

Hairball said...

"glorifying your hair with a loveliness you never dreamed was there."

*rolls eyes*
Whoever wrote this drivel must have been huffing the Kemt Beauty Mist.

TheSnackHound said...

Is this Mabel related to the one that was told "Mabel, Mabel strong an able, keep your elbows off the table?"

Anonymous said...

Poor Mabel!

Lidian said...

Buggys - Thanks! :)

Arlene - Me too! I have Pre-Raphaelite hair too, I was just thinking about how that was something people said about me in college...I guess you can read some interesting things into this little tale, which I kind of liked. Hurray for us PR Princesses! :)

Hairball - yeah, they must have been.

TheSnackHound - Actually I was thinking of my great aunt Mabel because I was looking at the 1892 New York State census and she was on it, but 'strong and able' applies here, too.

scottsabode - I think she'll be OK! ;)

Mommy Kennedy said...

Just love your stories!

I gave your blog an award. Come and pick it up!


Lidian said...

Mommy Kennedy - Thank you :)

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

Kemt Umkempt ....Ohhhhh I get it! You're truly faster than me cause I didnt get it till you said that


Lidian said...

Tracy - It actually took me awhile too, staring at the ad and then going ohhh - I get it!