18 May 2008


My mother got her hair done regularly for a spell by a beautician named Veda. Veda liked to do some customers at her home rather than at the shoppe – more convenient??? – more lucrative??? – who knows, and it doesn’t really matter after all this time, except that I’ve managed to stay inquisitive about the trivia over time.

I don’t really recall how near or how far it was to go to Veda’s house, but in memory it doesn’t feel all that long a drive to the youngster whose story this is. Veda was friendly and very tolerant in that I was a constant accessory when my mother went there. She included me to some degree in the socialization; however, I needed little to amuse me beyond listening to their chatter and watching this process of beautification as it unfolded. It seemed altogether quite a complicated ritual to me, and it always puzzled me that when it was finished my mother always looked the same. How could that be????? There were potions and notions and glops of stuff interspersed by trims and washes and rinses. It seemed highly improbable to me that with all of these ministrations things were not dramatically different at the end of it all. When we left, though, we always looked exactly like the same two people who had arrived some few hours earlier!!

One night as the show went along, and the mysterious liquids were being freely dispensed on my mother’s tresses, there arose what seemed to be a question whose answer promised to be monumentally important. Now that I have become a peroxide dependent person in my own right, I too find myself in the same complicated set of circumstances – what color are we really trying to impose on the hair and exactly what mixture of exotic, romantic, and drop-dead gorgeous elixirs are required to produce the perfect finish? (Only your hair dresser knows for sure, as they say!) Somewhere along the line, the conundrum was solved that night, and things got back on track and eventually it was all a done deed once more.

Fast forward to one of those infamous “open houses” at school where there are student papers plastered on every available inch of wall space - spelling tests scrawled by cave babies with next to no penmanship skills, rudimentary art work of never before seen flowers, and the most decent of pages from the old “Think and Do” books of fifty plus years ago. Parents dutifully stood in line to hear their prodigy praised and tattled on – in my case, praised for spelling, read well, but she talks too much in class – oh dear!!! And she doesn’t seem to have good study skills. I was yet to learn that I could not memorize, but I had the ability to retain clearly spoken information

My mother drew closer her place at the front of the line and I drew proportionately further away, since I had the inside scoop on the tattle stuff. Now here I was – skinny, scared, and six - not only out of my own classroom but many doors up the hall where the “big” kids had their classes --- LOST!!! To the rescue came one of those omnipresent nuns who did the tattling, and to whom you just knew you had to tell the truth, completely and at all times. In that nun-speak that they all had, she got my name and my classroom, and asked me what mommy looked like. In an effort to be the very best little lost girl that I could, I described my mother in detail, right down to what she was wearing and the color of her hair. Mother appeared from nowhere just in time to hear me tell the good sister that her hair was Topaz and Moonglow. WELL!!!!!

Sister laughed, but my lost mother didn’t think it too funny. Our departure from school was abrupt (and embarrassed, I expect). I know that on top of catching hell for talking too much in class and passing notes, I also caught the devil for being a “leaky bucket”, as my mother called it.

I don’t think I ever went to Veda’s with her again after that.


nonizamboni said...

What an enjoyable read! I remember neighborhoods with a beautician in her home. My first grade nun wrote I talked too much in class as well. :O)
But how clever you are to remember those lovely words, 'topaz' and 'moonglow.'
Nice work--keep writing!

alister said...

This story was truly engaging, nicely woven, didn’t lose me mid-way…and that’s saying a lot if you knew me these days, my focus shot, my attention span .01
What really got me, though, was “robot in my moccasins” That was some meat put down from that place or event where we’re just taking notes from somewhere out there…
Awesome material.

Lucy said...

you will know how much I loved this story when I tell you I am an 'at home' haristylist like Veda! haha
I often have women bring little children who sit quietly as they 'take it all in'
I will look at them differently now :))
sweet, enjoyable story!

TD said...

I luv this story!!!!! It is funny and honest in its simple truth. TD