Ever since I was old enough to appreciate being a baby boomer, I pondered penning a piece about coming of age in that era, and titling it “In Pursuit of the Perfect Flip.”
First, let me address the aforementioned “appreciation.” In the 1980s (when we ruled), there was great pride in being a baby boomer. In this second decade of the 21st Century, however, Gen X and Millenials are encroaching on the power. Just as the term “baby boomer” has given way to “mid-centurions,” that sense of pride is gradually replaced by some degree of embarrassment. Overall, I think we boomers believed, as the populous progeny of “the greatest generation,” it was our birthright, that we were endowed with eternal youth. The first true “teenagers,” we expected to forever remain in that free and easy existence – driving cool cars, looking great, and dictating all fashion and trends. As founders of the “generation gap,” we never expected to have those tables turned on us. We definitely never anticipated being “seniors” in any way that didn’t relate to our final year of high school or college.
That said, I admit to becoming a pre-teen and young teenager in the mid to late ‘60s. And like most of my female peers, one of my primary pursuits in life was to achieve the perfect flip hairdo. I spent a great deal of time playing my guitar and writing (songs, poetry, etc.). Overall, however, most of us sought only a few things to complete our lives: The newest Beatles or Monkees albums, most recent issues of Tiger Beat” or 16 magazines, the I.D. bracelet of a cute guy, and of course, that oh-so-precious perfect flip.
In those pre-electric curler days, achieving that hairstyle might involve styling products, such as Dippity Do gel or Aqua Net hairspray. I can guarantee it always meant sleeping in rollers. That was the kind of physical torture that would prepare us for childbirth.
While the grownups all sported some form of Jackie Kennedy’s bubble cut, we (who had finally outgrown our pixie cuts) were going to extremes for the perfect flip or its reverse, the “page boy.” I first recall seeing Patty Duke with our ideal hairstyle (albeit with a headband). But, I place the brunt of the blame on Mary Tyler Moore (first as Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” then as Mary Richards on her own sitcom) and Marlo Thomas (“That Girl”). Patty’s flip was probably genuine. The irony is that both Mary and Marlo were fudging a bit with hairpieces or even wigs, while young girls all over the world spent restless nights tossing and turning in agony, trying to sleep on giant curlers; bobby pins falling out on our pillows – all in pursuit of that perfect flip.
Our parents may have been “the greatest,” but, we were definitely the cutest generation.
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