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“If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

Lately Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton has been using the phrase made famous by Harry Truman as her way of saying that she can handle the pressure of being president.

She invoked the quote in Iowa when she was taking heat from her male rivals just before the January caucuses. She also stated the phrase to chide her remaining opponent, Senator Barack Obama, for complaining about the grilling he received from moderators at the presidential debate in Philadelphia.

At that time, she followed Truman’s quote with her own tag line.

"And, just speaking for myself,” she said, “I am very comfortable in the kitchen."

As an Adult Survivor of the Hot Comb, the kitchen was not a place of comfort for me.

Adult survivors of the hot comb are women born with nappy hair who lived to tell about the trauma of how we had our hair groomed with steel tooth combs that were placed in fire. These "heated" hair grooming sessions took place in the kitchen.

When Hillary spoke of her comfort in the kitchen during her campaign remarks, she was clearly making reference to the room that most people know only as the place where food is cooked. But Adult Survivors of the Hot Comb know all too well that the kitchen is also the place where our hair was cooked.

I still shudder when I think about those Saturday nights when my sisters and I sat in our sweltering kitchen, unwillingly waiting until it was our turn to get our rebellious hair pressed, or o-pressed, to be more precise. The steel-toothed comb was the weapon of nap destruction.

The way it was heated depended on what kind of stove we had. When we had a gas stove the comb was placed over a low flame. When my father purchased an electric stove, the comb was heated on the spiral burner. When the comb got smoking hot, my mother removed it, waved it in the air a few times and blew on it, as if that was going make it cool enough to bear.

It wasn’t. The comb was still hot and my hair still sizzled.

My mother cooked my nappy hair until all traces of what it was supposed to be was gone — at least temporarily. Water, sweat, or any other form of precipitation caused my hair to revert right back to its natural state, which is why the dreaded kitchen hair straightening sessions were a regular, tortuous thing.

This ritual was played out in countless homes where nappy-headed females lived. In these households, the smell of burning hair was as common as the smell of fried chicken.

As strange as it may sound, the kitchen hair-straightening sessions were not meant to be abusive. For most of us, they were carried out as pure acts of love.

Our mothers wanted our hair to be pretty, and they were conditioned to believe that nappy textured hair didn’t fit that description.

So we had to sit in the kitchen and take the heat.

This is no criticism of Hillary’s choice of words and her rhetorical claim that the kitchen is her comfort zone. It is just my humble observation that kitchen comfort is definitely in the mind, and on the head, of the beholder.

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