inessential by Brent Simmons

Origin of Good (and Bad) Hair Day

When I was in middle school in the late ’70s I struggled to get my hair to feather properly. It just didn’t want to do it.

Like many kids that age I was newly conscious of my appearance — and I naïvely thought that well-feathered hair was a necessary (though not sufficient) key to fitting in. (Which was probably true, by the way.)

Every morning I would find that my hair behaved, at least somewhat, or it didn’t. So I categorized each day as a “good hair day” and a “bad hair day.”

I told my friends about this categorization — including a neighborhood girl named Sarah. She ended up telling other kids at school.

And pretty soon those kids, even kids I didn’t really know, would stop me in the halls or at lunch and say, “Hey Brent — good hair day or bad hair day?” Not meanly. Teasingly. It was funny.

Years later I started hearing the phrase on TV, and I was surprised that my little middle-school thing had spread and become part of the culture.

* * *

Of course, it’s also possible that I picked it up from Jane Pauley. But for all these years I’ve believed — no joke — that it was me, that it was my phrase. Maybe Jane Pauley got it (indirectly) from me.

It’s highly unlikely — of course, I know this — that I’m the originator. But still, it had to be someone, right?

(Not necessarily. It’s kind of obvious and could have had many originators.)

* * *

I stopped categorizing good and bad hair days by the time I got to high school. And these days I’m just glad that I still have some hair.