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Love Notes

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On the road to modern maturity

Virgin hair? Nope. I’ve come of age. And since I’ve come of age, my follicles have enjoyed a quasi-illicit affair with some asphyxiating goop the staff mixes up in that tiny back room at the Hair Hut here in Sandpoint. On a shelf in a closet behind the curtain, they’ve even got a 3 by 5 card filed away in their small metal box listing all my personal hair statistics, lest Joyce, my regular hairdresser, decides to take full retirement. She’s been at it for 42 years. Six times a year, whenever the staff sees me darting from my car, slinking through the IGA parking lot, dodging the spoiled squirrels and appearing in their front door, my pals, the hair primps, know it’s time to fulfill Marianne’s needs.

In the space of a few short minutes, Joyce has wrapped a protective sheet over my clothing and tied a plastic bag to my head. Out comes the crochet needle. She digs through the plastic, hooks a swath of hair and pulls it through the hole. This fishing-for-hair procedure is repeated at regular stops along my scalp. Ten minutes later, I look like a wild monster who’s been plugged in to a high-powered socket. I only wish they’d pull the curtains so that God and all the IGA patrons don’t have to watch it all. The huge panel of picture windows at the Hair Hut offers a great opportunity for anybody to walk by and surely get a jolt from the scary scene inside. Traffic, however, is usually limited to the resident squirrels, who don’t really care what you look like as long as they get their daily peanut handouts.

Once Joyce gets me looking really weird, she goes to that back room, mixes up the magic potion and applies it to the exposed swaths. As she rubs it down around my scalp, I work really hard in my chair to avoid asphyxiation. Generally, this segment of the process brings all story-telling, gossiping, or complaining about what’s going on in Sandpoint to a lull because I have difficulty telling stories and breathing those overpowering fumes at the same time. She brings me a cup of fresh coffee, and as I twirl around in the chair, looking to see who all else has shown up for their early-morning appointments with Marge or Karen, Joyce finishes reading the official records and Letters to the Editor.

Once the goop has had time to highlight my top mop with a little fake color, Joyce removes the plastic scarf. Soon, I’m lying almost flat on my back, with eyes squeezed shut, as Joyce’s deft, experienced fingers run through my hair and gently massage my skull with shampoo. Next—the comb and sharp scissors.

“You’ve been cutting your own hair again, haven’t you,” she comments while trying to even up the botch job I’ve done during desperate moments of cutting those bangs and whacking off the fast-growing side hairs. With hair repair job complete, a blow dry transforms the once hideous sight into a presentable state. I marvel at how good it looks, give Joyce a hug and a check, and head on my way with a renewed air of confidence and happy eagerness to run into friends while the hairdo still looks nice.

A simple, straightforward comment from a youthful sister initiated these regular Hair Hut sessions, which are sure to continue as I trudge along my journey toward “modern maturity.”

“Marianne, it’s time,” my younger sister, Laurie, announced when asked if she thought I ought to do something about my mop of gray hair. She’s the same sister who had delighted in listening to an older gentleman ( who was certainly suffering from glaucoma, macular degeneration and all other forms of vision impairment) ask me at a Regional Arabian Show if that was my granddaughter out there riding my horse in the warm-up ring. Laurie watched my indignant reaction as I glared at him and instantly barked back, “Not hardly. That’s my sister, Barbara.”

The man showed no remorse for his obvious mistake. I did not like this man. Laurie’s gleeful reaction, however, was decidedly noticeable—so much so that she was due for harassment from me later. When Barbara heard about the comment, she was equally amused. Both uncharitable sisters tucked it away as a legendary moment to be repeated, several times over, at apt times in the future.

True, these were sisters who had come along more than a dozen years behind me. I had taught each of them for three years in English and yearbook classes while they attended high school. But there wasn’t THAT much difference in our ages. I really didn’t think I looked THAT old. But Laurie’s firm suggestion of “It’s time,” created a new sense of urgency. I couldn’t move quite fast enough to do something about my deteriorating youth.

Within minutes I stood inside the Hair Hut Beauty Salon tucked in the southeast corner of the IGA parking lot. Virtually all activity stopped as I flung open the door, abruptly interrupting both small talk and cut and curl at two hair-dressing stations on the far side of the room. Four sets of eyes shot my direction as I stole the air space and wasted no time asking for professional comment.

“Should I dye my hair? My sister says it’s time!” I asked.

“I think your hair is really pretty,” a customer with thick glasses and a headful of pink curlers commented.

My self esteem enjoyed a short-lived perk.

“Well, we could do some highlights,” a young hairdresser suggested. “We wouldn’t want to do anything really drastic.” The staff arranged an appointment for a few days later and put me on a “plan,” recording my follicle formula into their files. After that first appointment, I felt like a new woman while walking out of the Hair Hut, knowing that the hairdresser had, in 90 minutes, erased 10 years from my appearance.

I looked forward to going to school to greet my teenage students that fall with a new spring to my step and a confidence that this year I’d no longer have to face the death-warmed-over blah appearance of a summer suntan fading, leaving my bland, white skin to blend into my nearly white hair. No longer would anyone have the nerve to ask if I was my sisters’ grandmother. Dreading the image of “old and haggard,” I’ve returned to the Hair Hut chair several times since that summer day when my “virgin” hair lost its innocence.

To read more of Marianne’s take on the world we live in, visit her website

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

Tagged as:

aging, The Hair Hut

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