Desperate housewives are doing it in public. A few of them, anyway, because it is still a very private thing. A shocking thing. Perhaps the final taboo.
They are (please cover the next two words if you are under 18 or think Farrah Fawcett is a brand of sink) wearing curlers.
That's right. Liberated as any Afghan babe blowing off her burka, a small cadre of cuties has begun sashaying in flagrante decurlo through the halls, the malls and even - I've heard - onto airplanes. My friend Nancy Deihl just spotted two rollered women in Manhattan "and they weren't wearing scarves!"
"I had a curler sighting about a week ago," reports Diane Rumbaugh in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
"A woman sat down right next to me!" says Heather Newcomb of her experience in Cherry Hill, N.J.
"This was the first time I'd seen anyone venture out in public with rollers in as long as I can remember," says Jane Booth of San Diego.
Coast to coast, the rollers are rolling, begging the question: why?
Are these women being trendy? Trashy? Or could they in fact be ushering in a new era of raw female sensuality the likes of which we haven't seen since Sonny met Cher?
Oh, please! It's obviously the latter - a huge new movement with worldwide ramifications. But of course, there are some who argue otherwise.
"Many celebs seem to be wearing big, wavy hair - Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, J.Lo," notes Irma Zandl, head of the trend-watching firm that bears her name. "Maybe there's a little '80s thing happening."
Maybe. But even so, back then we never saw our idols actually futzing with their hair, we only saw the results. Curlers remained offscreen.
So maybe the rollers are simply a symptom of our national slovenliness. "It's totally because of this sloppy trend," says Patty Handschiegel, creator of the Web site StyleDiary.net. "The Olsen twins, Jessica Simpson and Britney - how could we forget Britney? - are photographed all the time in big sweatshirts and baseball hats." Curlers could be just the next rung down.
But the fact is, curlers are more than just casual. They are totemic: utterly female and - until now - utterly shameful.
To don a curler, be it spongy or plastic, "is a symbolic act of sexuality," declares Rich Hanley, a professor of communications at Quinnipiac University. "Curlers say, 'This is a sexual being.' If a woman is wearing them, there's a promise of something good to come."
Desperate housewives know exactly what that something is. Curlers scream they're out to get it. A woman in curlers is carnality incarnate.
Now, maybe the world doesn't recognize that quite yet. But it certainly explains why curlers make men feel so uncomfortable. And just as a century ago pregnant women weren't supposed to be seen in public because their condition was considered so indecent, so the curlered woman has been expected to hide inside.
Today the modern goddess ventures forth in a crown of cylinders. She is powerful. A little scary. And about to unfurl a revolution.
Permanently may it wave.