When it comes to fashion, Deb Erika thinks outside the box. Er, the tube.

Little Gale Gumbo, by Erika MarksI wish I had a really great wardrobe malfunction story. For me, it’s not so much a singular malfunction as it is a constant state of them.

I have very little fashion sense. Which, frankly, makes no sense. I grew up in the 70s with Abba and Blondie, Diana Ross and Diane Keaton. I visited my grandmother in New York City where at seven and eight I was wandering through the rounds at Lord and Taylor’s and Alexander’s. I watched Charlie’s Angels and pored over Bob Mackie’s book on costume design. I had Barbies (not the Sunshine Family, mind you—though curiously enough, my adult style more resembles their wardrobe than Barbie’s) and I never missed an episode of Dance Fever. For God’s sake, I even worked for Nicole Miller!

And yet, style has always eluded me.

In fact, very recently, I was reminded just how fast and far it had run away.

Last summer, during a visit with one of my very dearest friends who I’ve known since 7th grade, she happened to mention to my husband over dinner: “Did Erika ever tell you that she used to put toothpaste in her hair?”

He looked at me, stunned. I looked a bit stunned too. Frankly, I had honestly blocked that out forgotten. But then it came rushing back to me that, yes! in ninth grade, in lieu of the more traditional methods (aka, mousse), I used to employ the tiniest bit of toothpaste to achieve the desired rise in my bangs.

Crest. Maybe Aim. Whatever was at the sink. I wasn’t picky.

But you want to know the scariest part of this story? (Yeah, scarier than putting toothpaste in my hair.) That until my dearest friend looked across the table at me last summer and screamed in mock horror at the memory, it had never occurred to me that putting toothpaste in my hair was gross.


Anyway, I thought it was a good look. My friend might even say, unforgettable.

* * * * *

Since misery loves company, it’s time to share: What’s the craziest thing you ever did to look “stylish?”

21 Replies to “When it comes to fashion, Deb Erika thinks outside the box. Er, the tube.”

  1. It’s only gross if the toothpaste was used. Otherwise it’s just “eccentric.” 😉

    I’d tell you something of my own, but I’m still trying to come up with something for Friday. Might have to poll my old friends, and see if they remember anything I’ve blocked. *grin*

    1. “Only gross if it was used”–I love it! Between you and Kim, I’m feeling better already! (I searched for an incriminating photo–ie, yearbook pic–but couldn’t find one. Drat.)

  2. Oh, that crazy thing? I wrote in my book that in 9th grade I figured out how to pad my bra by tucking in a dicky under the bra band. The dicky made my bust line ducky. The shame feels cleansing when I mention it. 🙂

    1. “The dicky made my bust line ducky.” That is officially my favorite comment of the year. Maybe my favorite of the decade.

      How did you come up with that one? And better yet, did you share your secret with friends?

  3. I’m with Linda – as long as it wasn’t used, it’s not gross. Your story brought back the memory of a high school friend who used toothpaste to stiffen up her bangs so they were like a wall of hair standing straight off her head. I bet she’s really happy about that memory. As for my hair, well, my mother seemed to think every female needs a perm, so she kept dragging me to her hairdresser for perm after perm, even though they never seemed to take properly on me. We joke about it now (maybe slightly passive-aggressively) but in most school photos, I look like a sad poodle with big hoop earrings (it was the 80s).

    1. wait! There are more of us toothpaste pushers?!! No way! Joanne, this is huge news. Again, why don’t I go to the internet for this stuff? It’s what it’s there for!

      Oh, I think all of us who came of age in the late 70s/early 80s have perm stories. What I really should have done was make this week’s theme Perm Malfunctions–or is that redundant? 😉

  4. I recall being horrified at a gal who brushed her teeth in the shower at college. We had a large communal shower (this was before girls were embarrassed to shower at school and then text naked photos of themselves around the globe – eye roll) and she’d just brush and SPIT into the drain. Ick. There was also a gal who showered in her BRA and PANTIES. I’d been to boarding school and didn’t really care about showering en masse.

    1. Oh, poor thing–in her bra and panties?! Oh dear. She would really have had a tough time at my college (Hampshire was known for its coed bathrooms and showers, among other things…)Modesty went quick. My dad was confounded when he dropped me off: “Erika, where is the men’s bathroom? I just walked into the women’s?” “Er, no, Dad. It’s both.”

    1. Three words: Say no more.

      See what I mean about picking ONE malfunction? We had DECADES of them! (But are just glad it was pre-Facebook. Wait–I forget that our high school friends are actually uploading our old pictures–not fair!)

  5. I agree – toothpaste is not gross.

    I remember putting eyeliner on the inside of our lower lids in junior high. What’s gross is that we shared eyeliners. Why we didn’t all have permanent pinkeye, I will never know.

    1. Eleanor–did you do that?! You are my heroine! I could NEVER touch my eye (ask the eye doctor who finally told me to go home after spending an hour trying to get me fitted for contacts) and I LOVED that look with the eyeliner (it really wasn’t the same UNDER the lid).

      But I never considered the pink eye fallout. Maybe it’s a good thing I was such a spaz.

      (I say WAS, as if I am no longer a spaz. If only.)

  6. Now that is definitely a new one: toothpaste as hair gel. I recall, in 8th grade, MAKING my own sweat pants (with my mom’s help), in an array of pinks and purples, then making hawaiian shirts and other god-awful prints to go with them. WHAT was I thinking? And the scariest part of all … no one made fun of me.

    1. They better NOT have made fun–you made your own sweat pants, for crying out loud–they were speechless with awe! My mom made most of my clothes going into high school and I look back now and think/realize how cool that was, and how I wish I could do the same with my girls.

      We of the toothpaste/dickies/perms/on-the-eye-liner/homemade sweatpants clan–I raise my glass to all of us. Pioneers, ladies. Pioneers. (And once again, regret that no photo evidence remains intact…)

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