Hot rollers are not a weapon

February 9, 2019


Knowing how much Southern women value beautiful hair, Reese Witherspoon recently devoted six pages in her book, “Whiskey in a Teacup” to the art of using hot rollers. 

If you’ve outgrown big poufy hair bows and it’s not a good day to wear one of your towering tiaras (actually, it’s always a good day to sport rhinestones on your head), then fluffy hair is a good place-holder until you can grab a beautiful hat. 

Angels sang the day I discovered a small travel-sized set of hot rollers. Whoever worked at Remington and developed this marvel of modern technology, was a genius and held a passion for all things lovely. I’ve worn out three of these mini-sets, toting them here and there and almost lost a fourth the last time I traveled. 

Our mamas taught us to represent our family well. “Remember who you are” they’d call out as we left the house. As Southerners, we have the same responsibility to be good representatives of our homeland. The unfortunate description of “ugly American travelers” should never apply to Southern women. 

Reese goes out in public like this. She’s wild like that.

In addition to respecting international dress codes and local customs, I also think it’s my civic duty to fully cooperate with the TSA and show respect for airport security. 

However, upon a return flight from London, I was pulled aside for a “random” search. This wasn’t just waving a cancer-inducing radioactive wand around me a few times. I had to step aside, yet in full view of strangers, remove my shoes and empty my suitcase. Everything was dumped out, and I mean everything. It drew a curious and poorly mannered international crowd who doesn’t know we think it’s rude to stare.  My husband knew I was close to angry tears, so he just said, “I’ll see you on the plane.” So much for chivalry. 

Embarking on a trip, my suitcase is neat and tidy. On the way home, It’s crammed full of wrinkled clothes and souvenirs like cheese.  I pride myself on being able to travel with a carry-on most times and was mortified having to pull everything out. And then, the three officers surrounding me said, “Halt!” They pointed at my rollers and looked at each other as if to say, “ah-ha! We’ve found the axis of evil.” 

The two men and one woman — who weren’t British, but from an area where I’m just guessing they don’t have a Bee Bee’s Beauty Barn on every corner, poked at the rollers with sticks and looked back and forth to watch my expression, as if they were going to catch me saying, “Oh dear, you found my explosive beauty accessory I planned on using to overtake your government.” (Although Queen Elizabeth has beautiful curled hair and would have completely pardoned me).

 “They’re mini- hot rollers I explained.  The TSA looked perplexed. “You know, curlers.” Then, we launched into a game of charades and I pantomimed rolling a section of my hair and helped them with the international message of, “I come from a place where we are bombshells, not bombers.”  They looked at my passport again and one said, “Ala-bam-ahh”

I had to re-stuff everything in my suitcase, only to be pulled aside again in Charlotte. This time, after dumping out my bag, the Southern TSA ladies spoke my language and said, “cute little rollers.” But then they took my cheese. 

  • My boyfriend (who later became my husband) bought me a nice set for my 17th birthday. He was tired of me turning him down because I had to roll my hair and wait all day for it to dry. Here 45 years later he has passed, but the rollers are still heating up, even after being used by me AND a teenage daughter.

  • I should write a book for TSA agents (which would be required reading, of course) on Southern women. It would save everyone a lot of time!

  • I had a similar experience in Mexico, it was so scary, they kept scanning the zipper on my pants! Surely they’ve seen zippers before! I HATE to fly these days!!! Glad you and your rollers made it!

  • Lee Ann Smith says:

    They could be considered a weapon in our arsenal of feminine wiles ; )

  • Once , well before 9/11 and the advent of the TSA, my late husband had to travel to Australia for work. An ex-pat colleague working there asked if hubs would bring some Velveeta with him. They could get the Ro-Tel tomatoes (or something similar there) but not the Velveeta needed for the famous cheese dip/nachos. So hubs packed a 2 lb brick of Velveeta which was confiscated by Australian immigration-saying it could have been some sort of explosive! The ex pat, my husband and I all figured the immigration guys had quite the party that night eating the Velveeta cheese.

    The last two times I flew, I got wanded and then um, “patted” by TSA because of the decorative sparkles/bling (but tasteful, not tacky) on my shirt. Like the little studs and sequins were going to explode at thirty thousand feet or something.

    • Velveeta! That’s a new one! I agree that they probably enjoyed a Southern treat down under that night. Glad your sparkles didn’t explode — nor your temper when they patted you up and down.

  • Ellen Shook says:

    I once set off massive alarms leaving Switzerland because I was wearing and carrying large metal accessories. Belt, necklaces, earrings. They just don’t understand Southern women over there. Sorry about your cheese. Once upon reentering the US from Spain, they confiscated my oranges from Seville and chocolates from some other place. Irritating!

    • Totally. Now that I think about it and read your story, I think there should be a separate line for reentry to the USA for ladies from the South! It would save us all a lot of trouble and international hoop-la!

  • Coming back from France I got pulled out of line and searched because of a magnifying makeup mirror. But my sister waltzed right through with a pair of replica Napoleon dueling pistols!! (And laughed at me from the safety of the other side of the rope while I was practically strip searched!). Figure that one out. As far as I know, no Southern woman of a certain age has ever tried to blow up a plane. Lying, cheating, two timing Bubba’s mobile domicile…yes. Plane…no.

  • LOL, so funny. Hubby would be in hotttt water for leaving me alone in a distressed about to explode situation!!! I know exactly how you felt. I’ve also been pulled to the side to have the entire case dumped! Now mind you I appreciate being kept safe, I get that but show a little respect folks. I carry my “styling wand” now rather than the rollers, just saves a little space for the cheese is not caught 🙂 Sorry they got yours…………
    Next. time I see you have I got a story for you!!!!!

  • Too funny! I would be lost without my hot rollers.

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