Friday, September 28, 2012


I'm having a good laugh at myself.  I don't know how or why, but I somehow ran across my Topsy-Tail from 1992.  Do you remember the Topsy-Tail?  It was this hairstyle creator that was just a plastic loop with a needle-like extension on it.  You pulled your hair back into a ponytail, poked the Topsy-Tail down through the hair, just scalpside of the ponytail holder, stuffed your ponytail through the loop, then pulled the ponytail through itself.  The variations and therefore the styling possibilities were endless!

I remember I bought the thing at Widman's, but I never used it much.  First of all, in 1992, EVERYBODY was Topsy-Tailing their hair.  The more resourceful among us made their own Topsy-Tails by somehow mutilating a skinny magic marker and grafting a wire loop onto it.  Duct tape was probably involved.  I don't know.  I liked my magic markers intact, so I could magic-marker things up and draw magic-marker tattoos on myself.  So with the proliferation of Topsy-Tails, and the very distinctive look they produced, I avoided.  Nothing was worse than going to school and seeing fifty other Topsy-Tailed hairdos walking down the hall, and then having one of the snotty girls (who, may I point out, had also Topsy-Tailed her hair) say "Ooooooh!  Look who used her Topsy-Tail today!"  Because in junior high, things like that MATTER!

Another reason I didn't use my Topsy-Tail much in 1992 was that it hurt like a sonofabitch to pull this giant mutant needle stuffed full of my curly hair back through my hair to make a foldy-looking ponytail.  I'm not tenderheaded at all, but there's something about the way that Topsy-Tail always pulled just right that made me resent it, and opt instead for a high ponytail, nothing Topsy about it, and the Topsy-Tail company could take their variations on the Topsy-theme and all their styling possibilities and shove them!

Plus, you can't forget than in 1992, at least at my school, those glorious, huge, puffy crispy-bangs were still very much in style.  (And we all lived in fear of rainy days and gym class!)  Remember how they never worked well on clean hair?  You had to get a few days' worth of hairspray on those bangs, to ensure just the right amount of crispness and hold.  I had a method down.  Three curls back, one curl down, some swipes with the brush, hairspray, metal pick and diffuser, and voila!  Bangs curled'n'crisped to perfection!  The thing was, it took a relatively long time to do the Crispy Bang just right, when you consider you're talking about a junior high school girl trying to get ready in the morning before the bus arrived.  After all that, there really wasn't much time left to try to figure out the Topsy-Tail.  Not if I wanted to also get my heavy-handedly applied makeup on and enjoy my Carnation Instant Breakfast at a leisurely pace, there wasn't!

So when I found my Topsy-Tail while looking through a box of mine from the '90s (what WAS I looking for?  It definitely wasn't an Ace of Base mix tape or anything like that!), I snorted and almost tossed the Topsy-Tail in the trash.  But something stopped me.  For once in my life, I actually have long hair.  Really, really long hair.  And I wondered if my hair was long enough to do the "Inverted Topsy!" that always eluded me in junior high, because I was always chopping off and growing out my hair in Grades Seven through Graduate School.  But I've been on a good, solid Growing Streak now since 2008, and I decided to take the ol' Topsy-Tail downstairs and try out the Inverted, but instead of doing it at the nape of the neck like we were to do in 1992, and where it just looked stupid and a little obscene compared to the Basic Topsy, I did my usual high-up ponytail, stuffed my hair through the eye part of this giant plastic hair-needle, pulled it through itself, fluffed it out (the best I could- it was still sort of wet), and was not unhappy with the result:

I know it doesn't look like much.  But it didn't take me long to do and it's a fun variation on my usual "oh-what-the-hell-I-have-a-kid-and-just-don't-care"-looking ponytail.  It also shortens up my hair a lot.  This is important, because it's now at the length where, even in a ponytail, when I'm doing my jumpy-jumpy aerobics, sometimes, the ponytail switches me in the face, which pisses me off and makes me think with nostalgia on the days where I had supershort hair.  And that supershort hair is only a short drive to the salon away, but the regret coming from such supershort cuts will last for years for me.  So if all else fails, I have a new way to do my hair for my workouts.

A lot is different in the world from 1992.  Even Crispy Bangs are mostly extinct.  But some things stay the same.  It still hurt like a sonofabitch to pull that Topsy-Tail through my hair.  But maybe twenty years later, I'm more patient about a little pain for a reasonable payoff, or maybe it's easier to stomach since I didn't just spend 20 minutes trying to get the perfect level of volume on my crispy bangs.  Maybe it's because now, if one of the snotty girls looks at my hair and sneers "somebody Topsy-Tailed today!" I'm more inclined to tell her to piss off and go about my business.  I don't know.  For this moment, though, I'm kind of glad I came across this blast from the past and that I didn't toss it out.

But please hear me on this:  If you see me out and about, and I have my hair all done up in a Scrunchie, and I appear to be listening to Ace of Base on a Walkman, please stop me.  Some things are in the past, and that's where they deserve to stay!


  1. I love my topsy tail! I topsy tailed my hair today!

  2. I'm trying to get the hang of it, so the pulled-back part doesn't look wonky. I've found I have a tendency to get it peeled flat to my head on top, and then too puffy on the sides. But it is a really fun hair thing to use! I'm really glad I found mine!