Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wildroot Days

In the late 50's and early 60's the hairstyle that men and boys preferred was a combed, slicked back, wet look.  To achieve this look, we used various hair oils (yes oils), or hair tonics as we called them.  There were tonics in bottles.  There were tonics in tubes.  And later there were tonics in spray bottles.  Some of the many brands available were Vitalis, Wildroot, VO5 and Brylcreem (a little dab will do you).  Many tonics were scented and made your hair smell like a flower garden.

Some hair tonic companies also made shampoo- such as VO5.  My sister once confused my VO5 hair tonic with her VO5 shampoo.  By the time she figured out why her shampoo would not lather she had used half a tube of my hair oil.  Her hair was flat and oily for days.

My friends Joel and Van and I discovered that if we leaned back in our chairs in Sunday School Class and balanced our heads against the sheetrock wall, an oily smudge appeared behind us.  Soon this developed into a contest to see who could make the biggest oil spot.  To win this contest, I selected the oiliest hair tonic I could fined in the house, which I thought was Wildroot.  I slathered it into my hair each Sunday morning.  Joel and Van found their favorite and did the same.  Soon there were 3 large grease spots on the walls of our Sunday School Class.

The years went by and Joel, Van and I grew up and left home. One summer, on a whim, I visited my old Sunday School Class.  The room was the same as I remembered except for a fresh coat of paint.  But, through the paint- very faintly, I could see three oil spots.  "They keep bleeding through." said the custodian. "We don't know where they come from."  So I told him.  "Man, those hair tonics must be some powerful stuff." he said.

But when I looked at those spots on the wall, it was not the hair tonic that I saw.  It was three friends whose lives had intersected for a brief moment in time.  Three friends who were trying to leave their mark in this world; to prove that they existed.  And there on the wall was the persistent proof of our existence; bleeding through the paint, struggling to be seen; their source forgotten by the passing of time.

Yes.  Some powerful stuff.