Friday, January 18, 2008

"No Wet Jams!"

The other day, we were chatting with some ex-Northerners about the miseries of cold weather.* I recalled how, if one left the house with wet hair, it froze solid, and I told them my eighth-grade bus-driver's rule:
"No wet jams!"
No one knew what I was talking about, so I had to explain:
"Your jam... your hair... your haircut."
No wet hair. Of course, this was the height of blown-out feathering, so it wasn't usually a big problem. (Unless, like a certain late-blooming blogger, you were pretty clueless during the eighties and didn't really know what this feathering thing was all about or how it was achieved or who sang "Rock Me, Amadeus" or who starred in "The Breakfast Club" or what the deal was with fat shoe laces or...)

Who else knows the "jam" = "hair" idiom? Is it a regional thing? (My dry-jammed bus route was in Hamden, Connecticut.) An eighties thing? A bus driver thing?

* This climate spoils one (like rotten fruit). I spent many of my younger winters traipsing through ice and snow in sub-freezing temperatures, but now I complain whenever it drops below sixty.


  1. We lived in Conn. until the early eighties, but I've never heard the term. I'll have to ask my son who was 15 when we left. Maybe it was just a Hamden thing.

  2. I've never heard that one. When I read it, I thought your bus driver was referring to pajamas. (From the title, I first thought this was a bedwetting entry.)

  3. Anonymous12:48 PM

    Was there a punishment? Any kids left on the side of the road for a wet jam?

  4. As a former school bus driver, I can say it is not a bus driver thing.

    Making up arbitrary rules, however, is a busdriver thing.

  5. Anonymous9:01 AM

    'Jams' meant brightly colored, baggy, to-the-knees surfer shorts in my neck of the woods in the 80s.

  6. "jams" was the term for to-the- knees shorts here in Maine too. wet hair in winter was called
    "are you crazy or just stupid?"

  7. Mainer, here.

    My hair was very long and thick (the all-one-length-look, which I maintained through to my freshman year at college) and I certainly never would have given up the precious hour of blissful sleep it would have taken to blast through the cousin-it on my head every morning before going to school. Hell, no!
    And by the time I walked the mile to the bus stop, I could lift a lock and point it straight to the heavens and snap it in half with a satisfying crackle which never failed to entertain the younger bus riders waiting with me. These frozen locks formed a shield of ice I referred to as "The Igloo". Quite insulating, actually.

    Would love to see that hairdo illustrated......

    And jams were definitely known as the surfer/skater shorts in both high schools I attended in different areas of Maine. The style was to be followed by another combining the MC Hammer-pants-
    look-combined-with-plaid-pj-bottoms, also know as "Skids (Skidz?)".

    I thnk it was Skids.