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Wolverine and the soccer mum

IT'S not easy being one of the walking wounded. Leave the house wearing an eye patch or a neck brace, nursing a bandaged arm or limping along on crutches and people feel free to ask how you incurred the injury. Well that's fine if you got the injury doing something impressive or exciting.

There's no embarrassment in saying, "Oh it's nothing, the puncture marks in my leg are from arguing with a great white shark who wanted to take a chunk out of my surfboard" or "I broke my wrist hang-gliding".

These explanations will get you instant respect and admiration. These are the kind of stories told and retold in bars and in bowling clubs and school yards throughout the nation. These types of injuries are badges of honour, the stuff of urban legends. But just try telling people you're the victim of a hair straightening incident that went horribly wrong and watch all the sympathy (and your cool factor) fly right out the window.

Yep, the truth is out. The big, ugly, shocking-red welt sitting smack bang in the middle of my forehead, that it seems everyone in the entire state felt obliged to comment on this week, was not the result of me head butting my teenage son (tempting as that can be sometimes) but from an attempt by me to style my hair.

I'm under no illusions here, I do know my limits when it comes to my abilities with my crowning glory, there's a long and quietly disturbing history involving me and hair styling stuff.

In the 80s it took me almost half the decade to work out how to use hot rollers and just when I got the hang of them everyone had already moved on to crimpers. In 1995 I single-handedly proved the "Toni Never-Fail Home Hair Perm" was a fraudulent claim and as for my flair with hair gel? Well, let's just say I still firmly believe the hairstyle I accidentally created to wear to my best friend's wedding was the inspiration for the punk movement.

But using a hair straightener? Seriously, how hard could it be? Of course I totally blame Meg Ryan for giving me courage to try yet another hair appliance. I should never have watched the movie rerun of Kate and Leopold starring her and Hugh Jackman - terrible movie, great hair.

For those of you who are hair straightener virgins, it's an electrical appliance that works like a big flat pair of barbecue tongs. According to the instructions (which I didn't read in their entirety) the idea is to slowly pass the hair from root to tip through the poker-hot paddle bits to end up with dead straight, free flowing tresses. It all sounds good in theory but like most things in life, the practical application and end results are a world away from the instructions and the expectations.

After plugging in the hair straightener it didn't take long for the fun and games to begin - starting with the smell of singed hair. And somehow sadly predictable, after 20 minutes in the bathroom I was looking more like Mop Ryan than Meg Ryan with the very real possibility of being scarred for life.

So if anybody else asks about my injury I'll be kicking up my story a few notches. I'll be using words like extreme styling and third degree facial burn and Hugh Jackman wants me for his leading lady in his next movie - Wolverine and the slightly disfigured soccer mum.

Topics:  hair and beauty humour op wendy's world



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