I’ve noticed a few silvers in the mirror lately and I’m kind of freaking out. Not in the way you might be thinking. I’m not afraid to grow old. I’m just afraid of grey hair. There’s a difference.

By the age of 30, my dad’s hair was dipped and preserved in silver like a knight’s helmet of radiance. It was beautiful hair and I never associated it with being “old”, per se. He had a youthful heart clear up ‘til the end. His hair wasn’t old – it was dignified.

I like silver hair. I think it’s actually sort of sexy. It shows that a person has earned his or her Scout badges and is probably worth talking to. I have beautiful friends with beautiful silver hair. I love it.

On them.

At 36, I understand full well what’s expected of me going forward. No midriff exposing halters. No Spandex. No more dancing on bars. I’m not saying I’m ready to lie down and let the Grim Reaper have his way with me. I’m a mother. A fighter. I’ve been known to jump out of a plane. I once joined a Chinese protest which ended with me being escorted out at gunpoint. I’m persistent, a lover of fun, and just a little bit scrappy. Let age try and get me. I’ll kick it in the head. In the teeth. I’ll bite age in the ass.

So, why am I afraid of the greys?

It was 1984. That year is all jumbled in my head. It was back in the days before the Wall had come down. Before Perestroika. George H. W. Bush did not yet know he was “not gonna do it” at that juncture. Nobody had a home computer, and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway as Gore had not yet invented the Internet. Phones made a funny series of clicks when you pressed the number buttons and they always had a cord. Adventurous non-Asian Americans ate “Oriental food” like chop suey and Chun King Chow Mein from a can. There were no milkshakes in the yard – let alone a best one. Stretch denim and fleece had not hit the scene yet. Reality television was called “the news.” Life was in muted color, yellowed around the edges and prone to appearances of people with bad hair and even worse teeth.

At age 11, I was more awkward than most. And as this particular Year of Our Lord suggests, I was constantly under the scrutiny of my mother, who strove to keep me from falling into the clutches of unforeseen harm. My mother has a lot of motherly concerns: absence of a coat in winter, inadequate lighting – but nothing sends her into spasms of terror faster than the appearance of a freshly showered coif.

When I was younger, I would be putting the final touches on getting ready for school, when my mother’s silhouette would appear noiselessly at the bathroom door.

“And just where do you think you are going with that wet head, young lady?” She would ask, emphasizing the offense with raised eyebrows. “It is the middle of winter. You could catch pneumonia and die if you go out like that. I had a friend who died of pneumonia because of a wet head. Think about that for a minute. Her poor family.”

My mother has an entire graveyard worth of friends who have died due to unthinkable circumstances. They have fallen off three-legged stools, choked while eating in bed, fallen on screwdrivers while running…and yes, failed to dry hair adequately.

“Mom,” I would say, “It’s 60 degrees out. It’s not that cold.”

“Well, it’s too cold to be traipsing around with a wet head, that’s for sure. I want your hair dry before you leave this house.”

Obediently, I would take out the hairdryer and blast my head for several minutes. Gathering my coat and backpack, I would break for the door.

“Not so fast,” She would call from the kitchen as I turned the knob of the front door to catch my bus. “Wait, please.” She would then hustle to the door where she would proceed to run her fingers through my hair.

“It’s still wet,” she’d report.

“What? Where?” I would ask, trying to feel for myself.

“In the back. You can’t feel it because it’s in the back. Stop trying, you’re going to pull your shoulder out and cause permanent damage. That’s the last thing you need – permanent shoulder damage. Run back upstairs and dry it some more, please. And Erika?”

“Yes?”

“No more morning showers in the winter. Understood?”

At age 11, I was already more awkward than most kids. I was pudgy. I had a face that, according to my well-meaning father, would someday catch up with my nose. My arms and legs were covered in thick, brown wool, and I had a monobrow, the fact of which I was mercifully ignorant. I dressed entirely in outfits from a place called Anthony’s, which was mostly frequented by little old ladies and tired looking women pushing shopping cartfuls of children through the aisles. To make matters worse, my mother kept all of my sweaters in mothballs over the summer, so no matter how new my outfits from Anthony’s appeared, they always had a hint of the geriatric to them.

But most importantly, I had overactive oil glands on my head which made daily cleansing a requirement. Later, in my teen years, this excess oil problem would make a public mockery of my T-Zone. By the time I made it to my junior year, there was so much oil in my face and hair it would warrant the attention of OPEC. Men in robes and turbans would show up on our doorstep and attempt to make deals with my parents for drilling rights.

Regardless, my mother was resolute. There would be no hair washing in the morning before school. No daughter of hers would die of pneumonia from a wet head.

This was, of course, a problem. When I washed my hair before bed, I would wake up with large swirls and bumps, creating the impression that I had a large tumor growing under the surface. I could wet it back into place, but then we were back to square one with the whole wet head problem.

So imagine my relief when one morning my mother handed me a canister of MiniPoo.

MiniPoo, despite sounding suspiciously like something a hamster makes in the privacy of its cage, is a white powder intended for use in one’s hair for cleansing purposes.

When you can’t shampoo…MiniPoo!

Marketed to invalids stuck in their hospital beds, it is the answer to the problem of the wet head on a cold day. Simply shake the talc-like powder in your hair and brush out the oil and dirt. Et voila! Hair like a mink.

And who doesn’t want hair like a mink?

The picture on the canister showed a gorgeous shiny haired brunette who looked as if she had just stepped out of a salon. I’d shake that white powder into my slick brown locks and watch it go to work cleaning up like a baguette on an empty plate of peppers and Italian sausages.

At first, my roots would turn an unsettling color of gray, so I’d brush and brush the dirt and oil away. When the gray would not completely disappear, I would settle on trying to make the color of my hair uniform. It may not have glistened like the girl’s hair on the canister, but at least it didn’t make a cloud when bumped. At some point, I’d start to get frustrated when I would notice that the roots running down my part had attracted the MiniPoo, turning the white powder into a kind of a paste. I’d rub my head with a towel, trying to grind it in and out as best I could. When my hair was somewhat under control, I would notice that my monobrow was a distinctly different shade of brown than my hair. It was nothing that a little puff of MiniPoo couldn’t solve and I’d set to work rubbing that monobrow until the drapes matched the…table runner.

Thinking I had at long last conquered the problem of bad morning hair, I would grab my favorite moth-free sweater and head to the bus stop. Completely oblivious to the strange looks I was getting from my peers, I would take a seat alone at the front of the bus where I would strike up a conversation with the bus driver. Our bus driver was the father of my fourth grade teacher and often had funny stories to tell about when he was a young kid in school.

“Oh, those were the days,” he’d say. “Young Tim was always sneaking out of the house to go down to the dime store. There was a young lady he was sweet on whose father worked there.”

“Those were the days,” I’d nod, flipping my freshly MiniPooed hair back over my shoulder and releasing the sweet scent of an entirely intact sweater.

At school, the kids would give me a wide berth, although I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t until a kid in my homeroom class asked me what my room number at the nursing home was that I began to suspect that my new look wasn’t working for me.

Well, let me tell you, it wasn’t working for me then and it’s not going to work for me now. In a way not entirely unlike Benjamin Button, I’ve already been there, done that. And while I may have been raised under unusual circumstances, I simply refuse to return full circle to that reflection. And while I haven’t yet picked up the bottle of brown elixir and gotten to work freezing my hair in perma-youth, rest assured it is coming. Oh yes, it is coming.

I realize that the years may someday get the best of me. My hair dye may fail or I may get too old to regularly apply. The monobrow will no doubt return and I’ll be sitting in my attic apartment with the trunks filled with old clothes preserved forever with dichlorobenzine and camphor. My family will bring me pureed meals and give me the requested up-to-the-minute reports on the weather. At some point I’ll take permanently to my bed, never again to get up to use the toilet, let alone the shower. In those final moments, I will be transported back to my younger years – back to the fifth grade – and I will know with the wisdom that comes with age: I could lie there and let my hair become a grease pit so that when I die I could donate it to science, or perhaps to the chicken wing place down the street; or, I could MiniPoo, and die…with dignity.


 



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ERIKA RAE is the author of Devangelical, a humor memoir about growing up Evangelical (Emergency Press, December, 2012). She is editor-in-chief at Scree Magazine and nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Erika earned her MA in Lit­er­a­ture and Lin­guis­tics from the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong and to this day can ask where the bath­room is in Can­tonese, although it is likely that she will not under­stand the answer. In her dream world, she fan­cies her­self a kung fu mas­ter clev­erly dis­guised as a gen­tle moun­tain dweller, eagerly antic­i­pat­ing dan­ger at the bot­tom of every latte. When she is not whipping one of her 3 children and denying them bread with their broth, she runs an ISP with her husband from their home in the Colorado Rockies.

166 responses to “MiniPoo: The Curious Case of Erika Rae”

  1. Slade Ham says:

    Ok, ok, ok… how does a product called Mini-Poo make it out of a brainstorming session? Somewhere, someone suggested that name and his superiors said, “Okay. Go ahead.” That’s amazing. They have to be bankrupt now.

    There were several lines that made me smile, but the table runner wins, hands down.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Thanks, Slade. That’s quite a compliment coming from you.

      Exactly on the naming. The only thing I can think is that the world must have been such a different place when that stuff was invented. I don’t have my Oxford English Dictionary handy, but maybe people didn’t say poo back then. They did, after all, name the world’s most famous bear similarly. It’s terrible. Just terrible. What a world we live in that names an innocent bear after something one’s colon does. Shame on that Milne fellow.

      • Slade Ham says:

        I’m hoping someone will do the etymological research now. I’m resisting the urge to go find out myself. What a tangent my day has taken.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I suppose we could Google it, but that would require leaving the safety zone of the TNB.

          [huddling in corner]

        • Slade Ham says:

          I know. I’ve been using the fact that I’ve been sick for three days to justify total immersion. I really need to venture out to other sites or, God forbid, into the real world. Still, Poo-Googling wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice 🙂

        • Erika Rae says:

          Oh, man. Just think of what horrors could come up. Nope. Someone else can do the research.

          Anyone?

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      What’s that show? Made men? Mad men? From what I understand of it, someone on Madison Ave must have been engaged in something kinky by 201x standards, e.g. coprophagy, and decided to get cheeky with the name of the next product, and decided “2 girls, one lather cup” might be a tad obvious. After all, those rubes from the chemical wastes of the MidWest came to the Big Apple to get their regular dose of Helvetica, and they paid their money and asked no questions. ‘”Mini-poo”. That will be 50 Grand [i.e. a cool million in 201x money]. Now back to Cleveland with ya. I got a hot date.’

  2. Ben Loory says:

    jesus christ, that’s the worst thing i’ve ever heard.

    minipoo, that is. not the story. the story is funny… way more than it has a right to be. 🙂

  3. Matt says:

    I agree with Slade, the table runner line wins, hands down. I nearly spit a mouthful of tea on the computer at that.

    My stepfather had the “wet head” thing as well. Every damn morning he would make a comment about it, something mocking and sarcastic: “You’re going to get sick with that wet head” “What kind of idiot would leave the house with a wet head like that?” etc. When I finally pointed out that my head was, in fact, dry, and the hair gel was making it look wet, I was grounded for back-talk.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Man. Hair gel must be the bane of my mom’s and your stepfather’s existence. Such a deceitful substance. Like those joke glasses that always make your eyes look like they’re wide open. Man, that stuff must piss them off.

  4. Anon says:

    Okay, I will comment more at length when I can stop laughing. It may take awhile. Check back in a week.

    I’m pretty sure your mother takes the cake on this one but mine was big on instantly-fatal poor choices as well. Going near any open windows (we lived on the fifth floor but still….) and either showering or using the phone during a thunderstorm were akin to tap-dancing, naked and peeing, on a train’s third rail.

    The table runner was awesome but drilling rights to your forehead…. I’m heading out to coffee in about half an hour and will be giggling like a fool the entire time at that one.

  5. Amanda says:

    …the smell of a fully intact sweater…heh…

  6. Judy Prince says:

    My first tea-spitting (thank you, Matt) moment was at: “My mother has an entire graveyard worth of friends who have died due to unthinkable circumstances. They have fallen off three-legged stools, choked while eating in bed, fallen on screwdrivers while running…and yes, failed to dry hair adequately.”

    Thereafter were a series of tea-spurts—-and then an incontinence moment: ” . . . there was so much oil in my face and hair it would warrant the attention of OPEC.”

    Re the brainstormed word “mini-poo”, yeah, Slade, they had to go bankrupt. When you think about it, though, its etymological parent, “shampoo”, pretty much denotes “fake shit”. And we don’t object to that.

    Lock yourself in the house, Erika, and don’t come out ’til you have a couple books publication-ready.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Hahaha – fake poo. I will never be able to take a shower in the same way again. At least it’s fake, though.

      Now, to use in a sentence (ahem):
      “I don’t think I could stand hanging out with Paris Hilton for an entire day, what with all of that fake shit she’s got going on.”

      Look out, Urban Dictionary.

      Thanks, Judy. Sorry to have ruined that cup of tea for you.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I’ve never broken the word “shampoo” down like that. Wow.

      • Erika Rae says:

        It is etymology at its bloody finest.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Well, Slade, now that we’re breaking down [sometimes weird] words, here’s the backstory (i.e., “poop”) on the word “shampoo”. It first was used as a verb only, beginning about 1657, later examples which’re given below:

        From Henry Rule’s HOBSON-JOBSON, A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases:

        “SHAMPOO: (page 821)
        1857.– “At an early hour we retired to rest. Our beds were arranged under large canopies, open on all sides, and which are termed by the natives ‘Shameanahs.'”- M. Thornhill, Personal Adventures, 14. SHAMPOO , v. To knead and press the muscles with the view of relieving fatigue, &c. The word has now long been familiarly used in England. The Hind. verb is chāmpnā, from the imperative of which, chāmpō, this is most probably a corruption, as in the case of Bunow”

        The url for it: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/search3advanced?dbname=hobson&query=shampoo&matchtype=exact&display=utf8

        And here’s a funny little bit from the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] Online, 2010, 2nd ed. 1989:

        “1813 J. FORBES Oriental Mem. II. 52 She [a Mahratta wife] first champoes her husband, and fans him to repose; she then champoes the horse.”

        It wasn’t until around 1862 that “shampoo” (was used as a noun and) meant soap that cleans hair.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Fascinating, Judy.

          It scares me sometimes that it has become THIS easy to track the history of a word. Ten years ago this was impossible.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Quite right, Slade.

          Also, I’m lucky that dear Rodent’s a word-seeking missile, seems to be a brain repository for dictionaries, and is currently working on a book about cant in English writing between 1500 and 1900, as well as the standard anthology of cant poetry.

          “Cant” basically means criminal speech, a secret language of criminals, rogues and vagabonds. Best short read would be David Haggart’s brief autobiography, “LIFE”, available via Google Books full view, about 150 pages, written just before he was hanged in Edinburgh in 1821. [He’s not in Wiki, for some reason]

        • Erika Rae says:

          Wow, that is cool, Judy. I’ve always wondered, but not knowing I had access to the complete OED online, I haven’t gone looking.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Also, I am still trying to work out why she goes to champo the horse after she champoes the husband to repose.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Hmmm….maybe she’d rather “repose” with the horse than the husband. A lot of reposing going on, seems to me. Though I’d rather repose on the verandah than in the stable. Hmmmm…..

  7. Zara Potts says:

    I love the way you make us laugh with such ease. It always feels so natural and unforced. It’s a joy the way you give us smiles and then chuckles and then best of all – full on laughter.

    It’s a gift, girl. Thank you for brightening my morning. With poo.

  8. jmblaine says:

    This was a very
    very scary story
    disturbing
    in a way
    Stephen King
    knows nothing about
    I almost cannot grasp it
    because your Gravitar
    looks like you would be a
    costumed performer at Disney World.
    Like, you should awake
    and bluebirds
    would coif your hair
    & slip slippers
    over your toes.

    Oh erika.

  9. jmblaine says:

    darling toes.

  10. kristen says:

    Haha–this is hilarious! And I feel ya re: not being able to shower/wash one’s hair (only) before bed. That is, when I had straight hairs. Back in those days, washing before bed was a death-by-oil sentence for sure. Now that I sport the curls, though, I find that not only is my hair drier (perms’ll do that to a girl!), meaning I can get away w/ a night spent on it post-washing, but the curls somehow look better–less uniform, in a good way–after a night’s rest on them.

    And, “MiniPoo.” Could there have been a better name? Nope.

  11. Erika Rae says:

    No way. No better name ever.

    Part of the problem with my hair back then was that my older sister loved to cut it. Don’t get me wrong, she did a great job, but the hair almost always sported 1980s style layers. My pillow loved those layers and apparently stroked them all night long while I was asleep. They were well fondled layers.

    Curls would have been a nice solution.

  12. Bridget says:

    Wow – and think, I’m not the only one worried about looking older -esp. my hair. I just never thought that much about the whole process until today (I love reading anything you write!!) Just yesterday I had my own hair ‘lightened – streaked’ if you will with high and low lights to cover the nasty white ones trying to take over my normal mish-mash brown and blond~ I think we are all more connected than we realize.

    • Erika Rae says:

      You will not look old until you are 98, Bridget. You are gorgeous and look like you’re 22. You’ve just got the preggie hair blahs, that’s all. I cut my own hair when I was pregnant with #3 (talk about a rookie move!). At least you have your wits about you enough to get a professional on the job.

      And we are totally connected. It has to do with those energy vortexes by your house, I’m sure.

  13. Don Mitchell says:

    Erika, this is so funny. (Nicely written, too, and so on . . . .)

    I’ll report that the wet-head-can-make-you-sick goes back to my youth, too, meaning the middle of the last century. My mother totally believed it, and this was in the warm tropics.

    The Minipoo triggered some memory in me, but I can’t excavate it yet. Do you think it was the only one of its kind? I think the name “Minipoo” would have stuck with me because it’s so ridiculous, so maybe I’m remembering something like it that was differently-named. Maybe it was some pet shampoo thing.

    I wonder if I’m alone in thinking that long dark hair streaked with grey is extraordinarily attractive? Ah, I mean in women.

    For me, I think it odd that my beard turned completely white while my hair (what was left of it) was still brown. Weird.

  14. angela says:

    erika, this is so great! i laughed out loud several times.

    my mother also had weird beliefs, like not wearing an undershirt would make you sick, which did *not* go well over seventh-grade-me when all the other girls were wearing bras (though i didn’t need one).

    the thing is, my mother totally brainwashed me. when it’s cold and when i’m sleeping, i have a psychological need to cover my stomach. even if it’s 100 degrees, i’ll take a corner of a sheet and cover my belly.

    ack, mothers and their supernatural powers!

  15. Erika Rae says:

    I’m glad you clarified the sex of the grey-streaked long haired wearers. (Hee)

    I think it’s sexy, too. I so admire Rogue.

    My husband’s beard is getting peppery and his hair up top is remaining blond. But from what I can tell from your pic, your hair is more of a “see-through” color – yes? ( ;

    (I like the bald on top look in combo with facial hair, btw.)

    Crazy that your mom was worried about a wet head in the tropics, too. This must be residual from the last century when our ancestors feared bathing.

    Thanks for the kind words, Don.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Well, I thought you might think I was referring to Ed MaClaucuhum’s hair.

      I asked Ruth, who is older than I am (by 3 entire months!) if she remembered MiniPoo, and she said No, not by the name, but Yes, a product like it. Allegedly for traveling when the bath is down the hall, as in hostels and the like.

      Ruth says I should try shaving my head out here where no one cares. Maybe.

      I close this by declaring that of all the bad-hair/bad-head days I’ve ever had, the bad sunburn and subsequent peeling is the worst. A peeling bald head. Doesn’t get worse than that.

  16. Irene Zion says:

    Erika Rae,

    Forgive me for shooting right down to commenting without reading the comments. I swear I will get to it but there are two different couples staying here because I somehow double-booked our house this week with guests and I still have the stupid broken ribs and I am just getting to the end of the flu from hell and victor wants me in the TV ROOM RIGHT NOW! I promise I will read the comments later!

    Anyway. I had a mother that believed no one should wash her hair more than once a week. I had the world’s greasiest, most repulsive hair. I NEEDED to wash every day, but was not allowed to. The kids in school tortured me for my greasy hair. I bought a product not unlike MiniPoo, but it was a different brand. It made my hair dull and dirty colored and flat. I went through high school with clean hair only once a week, and my mom wanted that day to be Sunday for sunday school, so no one important saw me clean!!!

    By the way, I spit out my gum when I read this: ” I had a face that, according to my well-meaning father, would someday catch up with my nose. ” That is the funniest line I have ever read. (I had the same nose, too.)

  17. Erika Rae says:

    We, the tortured progeny, must reclaim our right to clean hair and stand up together! Oh, the *horrors* we have endured.

    As a mother, I shall backlash by REQUIRING my children to have a daily, morning shower. Or no TV.

    As you are no doubt in the TV ROOM RIGHT NOW, I expect you to have a fresh coif.

    Good girl.

  18. Erika, check out graygirls.com, my friend Jane started. She has now gone from gray to white. I love gray, what’s left of my hair is turning gray, wish I had more of it! Enjoyed your piece very much.

  19. Lorna says:

    “It was nothing that a little puff of MiniPoo couldn’t solve and I’d set to work rubbing that monobrow until the drapes matched the…table runner.”

    My God that line is brilliant!

    A few years back my hair stylist suggested I try some sort of similar product for my daughter, who at the time, wasn’t concerned with how greasy her teenage hair was. Apparently there is still some form of Minipoo out there on the market. Though there is not a need for it any longer as my daughter has come to her senses and showers frequently.

    • Anon says:

      Lorna!! I know it’s used so often on this board but in this case, it’s the only thing that fits. Brilliant! I love the hair.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Lorna – have you met my friend, Anon? I think the two of you would have much in common.

      I sort of like the image of you (your gravatar) sneaking in for a clandestine MiniPoo puffing in the middle of the night while she was asleep and unable to object. Hey…is that why you’re so white and featureless? Tell the truth now.

      • Anon says:

        Madam, I am honored that you would call me “friend”. And it was in your honor that tonight, after giving my daughter a shower (don’t be creeped out – she’s not quite five yet), I put her to bed with slightly wet hair and whispered, “Fight the power!” as she drifted off.

        Unfortunately, I also thought back to this story when I discovered some streaks of silver in my chest hair. I don’t suppose the make a Just For Men for…. Oh, hell with it.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Funny. From your gravitar you don’t look like the type to contemplate dyeing your chest hair….

        • Anon says:

          Well, my gravatar barely has a chest, much less hair. But I wouldn’t do such a thing, regardless. While I may be anonymous, I am who I am and who am I isn’t all that bad at all, if I do say so – convolutedly – myself.

      • Lorna says:

        Yes, indeed. I was introduced to your friend Anon yesterday morning and she kindly led me to the secret avatar makeover world.

        • Anon says:

          And good morning again, Lorna. I am quite tired so I checked before posting in case I mis-remembered. Confirmed: I am male. (:

        • Lorna says:

          Anon….was there a comment made by you tucking your little one in bed? If so, it led me to believe you were female. I obviously did not read the comment in it’s intiretly or I would have realized that by the mention of your hairy chest you were in deed male. 😡

        • Anon says:

          There was a time when this would have elicited an “East German women’s shot-putting team” joke. That time would have been back when there was an East Germany. C’est la vie.

          Yes, I am one of those weird, semi-sensitive males who attempts – sometimes pretty badly – to nurture his offspring. I don’t cry overmuch, I spend my days doing things I *hate* in order to provide for my family and I do kill things once in awhile so I still feel kind of manly.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Ha!

          I’m glad you two have it sorted.

        • Lorna says:

          This is exactly the reason why we are in need of gender specific avatars.

        • Anon says:

          Well… I thought mine rather was. Oh, wait! *smacks forehead* You can’t see below the torso! Nevermind.

        • Erika Rae says:

          You need an outline of a fedora, Anon.

        • Anon says:

          Well, would that really help? I mean, I’ve seen some women – some pretty hot women – wearing fedoras on occasion. Or is your desire to see me fedoraed entirely unrelated to the gender question? Dance, monkey! Dance!

        • Erika Rae says:

          No offense, but you don’t really have the rack in your pic to make dancing with a fedora “hot hot hot.”

          [cue Buster Poindexter]

        • Anon says:

          As we speak, my gravatar is self-consciously padding its bra with tissue….

        • Anon says:

          Very well, Madam, I am a sucker for women and have found a suitable fedora. You’ll have to let me know if it’s to your liking. However, if it intimidates Zara as much as “Anon the Greek”, it will have to go!

        • Erika Rae says:

          Where is it, Anon? Am I missing something? I wanna see the fedora!!!!

        • Anon says:

          You likely need to refresh your cache. Depending on your browser, you’ll need to either hold down Shift and click on Refresh (thanks, Richard!) or go to Tools > Internet Options, delete your Temporary Internet Files and then refresh the page.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Nice fedora.

          Btw, the “shift and click refresh” reloads all the images for that page only. Keeps you from having to refresh the whole cache just to see one new picture. It works on IE and FF. Not sure about the others.

        • Anon says:

          By the way, harkening back to your mildly envious comment about my life of luxury, you didn’t hire a stalker to track me down and photograph me, did you? I had the strangest experience yesterday while out for coffee at the local Barnes and Noble’s. An old woman that I swear looked like the Hallmark character “Maxine” stared at me from behind a bookcase aisle, slowly raised her camera phone, held it for a good ten seconds and then took a shot of me before shuffling away. No clue why. I thought about scaring the shit out of her and asking what that was all about but I was afraid of giving her a heart attack.

          Your doing?

        • Anon says:

          Ah, thanks again, Richard. My geek-fu is weakening. Thank God.

        • Erika Rae says:

          You guys aren’t Mac users, are you. ( :

          I’ve tried a bunch of things now, and still to no avail. I’ve emptied the cache, reset Safari (yes, that’s what i use…). Ugh. I’m workin’ on it!

        • Erika Rae says:

          So you met Madge, did you? I’ll have to tell her to be more subtle.

          I think it’s hilarious, btw, that you think you’re being stalked when all you’ve given us is a skinny white guy and the name “Anon” to go by.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Aha! I did it! The gravatar is BRILLIANT. Love love love it.

        • Anon says:

          Mac! I didn’t even think of that. And we actually have a few in our lab that I could’ve tinkered with. Thank you for your gravatar praise. And this is exactly why I was so impressed with your tracking skills – with nothing to go on, I have still been discovered… by some crazy old lady.

          Seriously, though, I told my wife I probably would have reacted differently if it was some young, competent-looking male, which has illustrated a blind spot I should correct. Can you imagine the ignominy of getting whacked by a some old coot because I thought, “Oh, poor old guy’s arthritis must be acting up. He can hardly load that shotgun! Let me go over and help him….”? Ah, well. Live and learn. Or vice versa. (:

  20. D.R. Haney says:

    Just when you think you’ve heard of every product.

    When I was a kid, my mom was obsessed with not letting me out of the house after I’d had a bath. It wasn’t because the bath left me more open to life-threatening disease. Rather, the very second I set foot outside, I became radically dirty, thus undoing the effect of the bath. Even the porch was a mud pit, compared to the interior of the house, or so the reasoning seems to have gone.

    • Erika Rae says:

      I don’t remember my mother caring one bit about dirt. Not even germs. Rather, she was worried about the possibility of “catching pneumonia”, which, the way she described it, was not a follow-on condition or complication but a disease in and of itself caught by the presence of cold air. Bacteria and/or viruses had nothing to do with it. Fluid in the lungs apparently happened spontaneously because of an open window or sitting too close to an air conditioning vent.

      So, were you, like, clean all the time as a young pup? Did you rebel by jumping in actual mud puddles?

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I think I rebelled in a good many ways. I did tend to get dirty a lot, but probably no more than most kids.

        My mom was very concerned about germs, incidentally. She still is. I almost never think about germs, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons that I’m so prone to getting colds.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I’ve actually heard that kids whose moms were paranoid about germs and cleaned all the time get more colds as adults because they didn’t develop rock hard defenses. I don’t know if this is actually true, but hey, it’s one more thing to blame mom for. Ha!

  21. This was traumatic for me to read. But you are still brilliant and so freeking funny.

    I’m so happy you don’t live in a room with padded walls.

    I guess that proves that children are way more resilient than adults.

  22. What?! No more dancing on bars?! Damn, Erika. And here I was already to purchase a ticket out to your neck of the woods to do that very thing with you–dance on bars. Oh well. I guess me and you, we can just MiniPoo instead.

    • Erika Rae says:

      I didn’t say I WOULDN’T dance anymore on bars. I simply said that I know this is what is expected of me. There is a difference, my friend.

      “We can just MiniPoo instead.” Thanks to you, I just had the best “Girls Night Out” idea ever. OMG!

  23. Richard Cox says:

    The paragraph that begins “It was 1984…” was perfect. Loved the line about phones back then clicking and possessing cords. Has anyone heard a dial tone recently? I haven’t.

    The table runner matching the drapes line, as so many have pointed out, you knocked that one out of the park.

    But my personal favorite is, “When the gray would not completely disappear, I would settle on trying to make the color of my hair uniform. It may not have glistened like the girl’s hair on the canister, but at least it didn’t make a cloud when bumped.”

    Baaahahahahaha.

    Excellent piece of writing here, Erika. I’ve been struggling with a piece about my own mother, not making much progress, and I appreciate the tone you struck here, a way to render odd parenting choices without demonizing the author of those choices.

    Thanks. 🙂

    • Erika Rae says:

      There’s a fine line when writing about one’s mother, isn’t there? I am terrified of being disrespectful. Stefan Kiesbye wrote about his mother recently and I thought he did an amazing job. It raised all sorts of questions for me. How far is it OK to go? I suppose this line of thinking is where this piece came from as I haven’t written much about her yet.

      Good luck with the tone in your piece. I’d love to read it when you’re finished.

      Thanks, Richard, for the sweet comment.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Nice new gravatar, Richard!

      • Richard Cox says:

        Thanks, Erika. That was a five-iron from 214 yards. I missed the green but got up and down for par.

        Ha ha.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Your Gravi is a hit, Rich. I’m off to play golf for the first time in six months actually. This should be quite embarrassing.

        • Richard Cox says:

          It’s warm enough to play golf? Didn’t you almost have snow the other day?

          Good luck, man. The back of your left hand should face the target. Imagine the club face is the back of your left hand, that you’re hitting the ball with the back of that hand. Tip for the day.

        • Richard Cox says:

          P.S. Love the ninja suit. Wear it to the course.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Our weather is quite schizophrenic. It was in the mid 60’s today and gorgeous for the most part… but yes, it snowed here Tuesday night.

          We won’t discuss my score, haha. The back of the hand thing helps immensely actually. Gracias. On that note, I bet pimps are great at golf.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Hahaha. You should work that pimp joke into your routine.

          Did hand thing really help? That’s great!

  24. Marni Grossman says:

    As per usual: hilarious. And your mother’s comments about going out with a wet head clearly come straight out of the parent handbook as my mother said exactly the same thing. In fact, when I was in college, I went out one night with friends to sit with them while they smoked up. As we were going back in, I said to a friend, “my mother wouldn’t like this at all.” And it wasn’t the illegal substances I was talking about. It was the fact that I’d gone out with a wet head.

    I think you’ll be beautiful with gray hair, though, Erika. I too am getting grays. My mother went gray in her 20s and I’m not freaked out about that possibility. Rather, the appearance of gray hair confirms my suspicions that prolonged unemployment is prematurely aging me.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Oh, that’s funny, Marni. “My mother wouldn’t like this at all.”

      Yeah, I’m a lot of talk with this whole grey hair thing. I’ve never ever dyed my hair and the thought that I will suddenly be dutifully making an appearance every 2 weeks to get my roots done seems a little far-fetched even for me.

  25. Simon Smithson says:

    Goddamn hair! Is there ever a solution? Can we never rest? Ack!

  26. Erika Rae says:

    There will be no rest until we accept. I for one am not good at accepting my own mortality. It comes down to that, I think.

    Did you see the shot of Nicole Kidman with an inch of silver proudly displayed under her dye job? Respect.

  27. Quenby Moone says:

    Yesterday when I read this I was so swallowed up in things unrelated to MiniPoo that I couldn’t form a proper response. But MiniPoo beckons me back, and I must heed the call!

    Okay, first off: WTF, Marketing Geniuses? I mean, really? As if lying in bed as an invalid wasn’t humiliation enough, now you have to have your head dusted in a product called “MiniPoo?” I was clearly not consulted during the pitch meeting. Granted, I was only 15, but damn if I couldn’t have done better.

    Also, your pitch-perfect illustration of your mom, was, as someone pointed out, elegant. She looks like an over-protective nutjob, but a completely sympathetic one, and for that I’m both happy and slightly embarrassed, because I too might be an overprotective nutjob. Such is life.

    And I love, love, love little intimate portraits of life that develop from presumably mundane events, like the completely erroneously conceived necessity of having one’s hair washed with a product called “MiniPoo.” This is exactly the kind of stuff I respond to. I don’t dare scratch the surface of that too deeply, but there it is.

    Thanks for sharing the MiniPoo.

  28. Erika Rae says:

    I’m so glad you called her “an over-protective nutjob, but a completely sympathetic one.” Like you, I can’t throw too many stones as I’ve got my issues, to be sure.

    I mean, as JMB pointed out, crazy like Stephen King, but I love her. Ha!

    Man, I hope she never reads this.

    I love you, Mom!

    (And honestly, I can’t imagine MiniPoo speaking to ANYONE where they are currently in life. A bit presumptuous of me to pull readers into this bubble in which I live. Thanks for stopping back for a comment!)

  29. Quenby Moone says:

    Ha! I know. I began writing again because my Dad got cancer, and then I realized that to write about cancer I had to write about him in all his many nutty colors. And then he would read it and I’d squirm and twitch, but he never flinched. He was pretty brave about all the deeply unflattering info I squeezed in.

    There’s always more I could squeeze in, but don’t…just because.

    HI DAD!

  30. Greg Olear says:

    I like how you put the italics around “wet head,” like it was That Which Shan’t be Name or something.

    I’ve heard about the guy who died on the three legged stool. Tragedy.

  31. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    What a fun read! I think our mothers might be soul sisters. Mine wasn’t so into moth balls but she definitely had no idea how to dress us and was also keen on criticizing our *traipsing around* (with wet heads, for example) and intent to let us *die of pneumonia* if we didn’t come to our senses regarding various, reckless traipsing around. Well, when my time comes, I know I’ll invest in some Minipoo. Until then, I’ll stick with blonde highlights and refuse to acknowledge any new colors in my coif as anything other than platinum. Alan Ball said it best: Never underestimate the power of denial.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Nicely put, Lisa Rae! Denial is not just a river in Egypt (nyuk), it’s a beautiful word that will carry us blissfully to the other side.

      Hmmm…highlights…I haven’t tried those yet.

      And at least we know our moms loved us with all that pneumonia prevention, right?

  32. Oh man, youth sucks… I never had a monobrow, thankfully, but I’m sure as hell that would be better worse than grey hair.

    I do wonder, though, if the elderly are kinder to their fellow elderly than the young are to their youthful “friends”… I really, really hope so.

    • Erika Rae says:

      I don’t know, David. I’ve heard some pretty wild shenanigans take place in those independent living centers. Just think of the possibilities with false teeth, alone! And then there are adult diapers…

      Also, I was sort of lucky on the monobrow in that they were almost in style for a few years there (just look at Madonna back in the Lucky Star days): http://www.mamarazzi.org/images/madonna/madonna-1.jpg

      But man my pictures from back then are embarrassing now.

      • Aaron Dietz says:

        You know–it’s odd. The monobrow, and the thought of having one, seriously frightened me as a kid. And now for some reason I’m not worried about it. Either that’s because I don’t have one, still, or maybe I…nah. There’s no chance I’m all grown up yet.

  33. Dundee says:

    “Poo” should never be taken out of “shampoo” and reused. A fine read love!

    🙂

    • Erika Rae says:

      Thank you so much! And I couldn’t agree more. Poo should remain where it belongs. As a case in point, just look how embarrassing the word “cock-a-poo” is. Hm. Come to think of it, “cock” should always remain where it belongs, as well. Eesh.

  34. Judy Prince says:

    Speaking about “cock” always remaining where it belongs, I often sense an instant of hesitation just before typing in a comment, at the options, “(smaller size / larger size)”. I mean, if it’s *that* easy, well….

    P’raps I’ve become beyond tired, past bored, with deleting Viagra-Spam each day, routinely throughout the day, which when you think about it, brings to mind—oh well.

    I know a guy who changed his email address to begin with a female-sounding name, and he swears he gets less Viagra-Spam. But, hey, I’m JUDY, after all—and it isn’t likely that I’ll need to grow my penis any day soon. I can’t even recall ever having penis envy; have always figured males have mammary envy, and why indeed not. But I still get Viagra-Spam.

    Relax, Judy, think about puppy-curling. And those IRS forms.

    • Anon says:

      I admire your ambition but putting “relax” and “IRS forms” in the same sentence seems contradictory. Having “IRS” and “cocks” appear together is entirely unsurprising, of course.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Wait, anon, I’m still hesitating at the choices, “smaller size / larger size”. OK, done. A nother existential hurdle over which I’ve stumbled. Wait again, anon. I’m gonna click on “larger size” and see wot happenz.

        I don’t see any difference in size.

        Re IRS forms, quite right, you! “Cocks” (up) teams nicely with IRS. And speaking further about size, I’ve evolved to paying a tax prep person, thus decreasing my workload and increasing my debt. The only person who’s ever been able to QUICKLY and accurately do my income tax stuff is my son who years later has, reasonably, come to specialise in bankruptcy law. Was it something I spent?

        Come on, anon—do tell us wot article you’ve writ on TNB, or hurry up and write something if you haven’t. We all need additional humour breaks from February and tax prep.

        Now for a MiniPoo with Rich.

        • Anon says:

          I am flattered, Judy, but I am a guest here only and happy enough to offer commentary for as long as I am tolerated. Funny – I hadn’t given any consideration to the size thing. Frankly, I’m comfortable enough with myself that I don’t feel any urge to try “larger size” but now, thanks to you, I’m a little hesitant to click on “smaller”. You know – just in case. Yikes.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I’ve got a brill idea, anon! Why don’t you write up a little article thingie into the “comments” section as a trial run?

          Re the size options: For our peace of mind, it might be well for Bad [I mean Brad] to, in the case of male persons, I suppose, eliminate “smaller size” and add “largest size ever”. Wait—they don’t work anyway, so he could eliminate the options so we wouldn’t have to waver on the edge of creativity whilst trying to figure out wot size we want to be.

          Nap time.

  35. Anon says:

    Perhaps we could prevail upon Gravatar.com to include a gender flag. Then, when this site detects “male”, we could use more creative verbiage. Say, “frigid shower shared with naked mother-in-law” versus “you wouldn’t walk right for a week”?

    • Erika Rae says:

      You guys are making me giggle.

      Hey – how come *I* don’t get naptime???

      • Judy Prince says:

        Anon’s right, Erika: Go count your kids. If ever there’s a machine that enforces wakefulness bordering on death, it would be less effective than kids. Same thing about phone conversations [or emailing]; kids *must* be attended to when mom’s on the phone or emailing. Once she’s gone off, wittering to herself and washing floors, the kids show no need to be attended to. They just can’t stand for mom to ignore them with phone calls and emailings.

        Re the issue of Gravatar gender-flags, I think it’d be an invasion of privacy somehow. I’m sure Title VII has something to say about it, if not the latest Health Care legislative package.

        OTH, for centuries I’ve thought there was “male” humour and “female” humour. Some comedians disagree, for example the Marx brothers, who credited their moms with their brand of humour. And there are women who’ve had a “male” humour such as Mae West (“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted”) or Dorothy Parker (“I named my parakeet Onan because he spilled his seed upon the ground.”). But it often still strikes me that mens’ humour is goofier, weirder, more physical, more boisterous, outa the box, stoopid—though not tougher or meaner—than womens’.

  36. Anon says:

    Go count your kids. That’s why. (:

    FWIW, I don’t officially get it, either. I have to settle for “hunched in front of my monitors with furrowed brow so people walking can’t see my closed eyes but think I’m working really intensely on something” time.

  37. Tom Hansen says:

    Minipoo, huh? I don’t remember seeing that. Then again, entire years went by without me washing my hair so I guess that’s not so unusual. But I do remember Yum Yum’s, which are Girl Scout Samoas that they used to sell in grocery stores year round. And Fizzies, these alka-seltzer like tablets that came in a glass tube identical to the old alka-seltzer tube. You dropped them into water and voila, fizzy colored water. Not much taste though. Kind of like Emergen-C.

    Nice piece

    • Erika Rae says:

      Fizzies? See now, I have no memory of those whatsoever. It doesn’t surprise me, though, as my mom was not keen on medicines, sugar items or items with food coloring… Grease absorbing powder for one’s scalp, on the other hand, was quite all right. ( :

      I’ll bet you were MiniPooed in your sleep without being any the wiser. Whole years without a shampoo! Oh, sweet oblivious childhood.

  38. Gloria says:

    “…until the drapes matched the…table runner.”

    bwa ha ha ha ha ha

  39. Gloria says:

    This was so much fun. The final sentence is priceless.

  40. josie says:

    Thanks for that thrill ride through your puberty, ER. The 1984 paragraph is fantastic. Took me right back to the day!

    My great aunt had a beauty salon back then. She catered to sweet old gals with silver hair, some tinted blue, pink, and purple, tight perms set with rollers and pins, scalps of cradle cap, all fully dusted with talcum. I used to visit her as a kid, sweep hair and listening to their stories.

    talk about living life in reverse! I was born with grey hair. Silver locks that fell out within a few weeks of my birth. Those old gals used to try and pluck out my grey hairs so appalled by their appearance in my adolescence.

    I love my grey hair. It has a wave my red and blonde hairs lack. Without it, my hair falls limp and flat. . . .

    but I learned early in life – dye that stuff sister – else folks will want to pull it out!

    • Erika Rae says:

      You’re quite welcome, thrill ride that it was. Were you really born with grey hair? A true old soul! I love it. That’s horrible that those old birds would pluck at your head, though. Criminy. Did you ever dye your hair pink?

      • josie says:

        Yes, according to legend I really as born with grey hair. I have very little pigment in my hair. I think I’m half a step from albino to tell ya the truth.

        Never had pink hair. Never had lavendar either, and thank God Almighty never had blue curls. The old ladies sure did like that colored rinse. I did get some really bad perms there in the 80’s though!

  41. Ducky Wilson says:

    What is it about our parents? My mom is similar – she can worry about ANYTHING. We had an argument about the wet head theory. “You get sick form germs, Mom. Google it.” That shut her up. Finally.

    Funny your mom didn’t object to all the harmful chemicals in Minipoo. That generation has a strange relationship with chemicals.

    • Erika Rae says:

      See…I tried that straight talk approach with my mom. Nothing doing. You can still catch pneumonia from a wet head.

      I just tried to google the ingredients of MiniPoo. It seems that the main ingredient was Fuller’s Earth Clay, which is reportedly safe enough to “powder a baby’s bottom”. Possibly cornstarch, too, but I can’t find any definite on that. But here’s the clincher – guess what Fuller’s Earth Clay’s #2 most popular use was…(wait for it)… KITTY LITTER!

      And suddenly MiniPoo takes on a whole new meaning.

  42. MiniPoo. Bahahahahahaha. MiniPoo. Hehehahahahaha!

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  46. JoeKaye says:

    Mothers on my block forbid the girls to get their head wet when they’ve “come sick.” That’s where that Minipoo stuff came in handy. We were also told not to look at that heat lightning because “youse wanna get polio?” (1950’s)

  47. suba suba says:

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