Monday, January 20, 2014
Velma and Aunt Dixie
Got my hair cut today. This is a pretty exciting event for me, because I tend to put it off so long that by the time I go it’s dull and lifeless, and I look like someone who forgot to perform basic upkeep. I am someone who forgets that, but I do shower regularly, so I’m not altogether awful yet.
I don’t do appointments well. There are so many things I need to schedule and make time for and keep in an appropriate time slot that when it comes to my hair, it’ll get there when I get there, and that’ll be when I feel like it. So I walk in to my normal place and get in that afternoon.
After I was done, Mr. C decided to get his hair cut as well. This was probably because I looked so good, and because he’d put off his routine maintenance as well. This works well for him because his hair is all curls, so as it grows it just gets curlier, and at night while he sleeps I can play with the ringlets. But today he decided to get his cut too, so while I waited I sat in the mall and waited.
When I went back he wasn’t done yet, so I sat in the waiting area, where I could see him and we could talk about his hair, which was turning out way shorter than I had planned.
In another chair across the aisle (on a chair means one is sitting on it, in a chair means one is having their hair attended to) was an older woman, 70’s, probably, though I’m not good with age guessing. Her hair was untouched, as yet, and her stylist was the guy who cut mine last time I was in, a young guy with huge hoops in his gauged ears. He did a great job with my hair last time.
He was gesturing above Velma’s head with some enthusiasm. I’m pretty sure her name was not Velma, but I have to call her something other than the older lady. Velma’s hair was a short blond fluff, not colored but not colorless, not grey, and she wanted it colored. Jack, or whatever he was calling himself, was explaining about older hair, and color, and how it didn’t take quite the same way as hair that’s younger and still in possession of its natural hair color. Velma seemed peeved, then understanding, and Jack kept talking. I’m not sure what color she was hoping for, maybe a fire engine red, or a deep chestnut, or maybe just more blond. Blondes have more fun, right?
My stepgrandmother (which is an awkward phrasing) had a sister, our Aunt Dixie, with red hair, the sort of bright red hair not seen in nature, and even as an older woman she wore it that way, with bright red lipstick to match. My stepgrandma had lavender hair, something her grandchildren all found quite amusing. Once, when I was 12 or so, I was visiting Grandma, and she and Aunt Dixie and I went out for Chinese food. I choked on something or other, something which I’m still quite good at, and the two of them pounded it out of me.
Velma reminded me of Aunt Dixie, except Aunt Dixie would have never allowed her hair to fade to that barely blonde shade. But she wanted what she wanted, like Aunt Dixie, who would never back down in a fight. I wouldn’t want to tell Velma she couldn’t have what she wanted. Every so often she would grimace, as if Jack weren’t living up to his end of the bargain, or as if she couldn’t believe the gall of this young punk.
Or maybe he was her grandson. I don’t know.
Mr. C was finally done, and I had to deal with the shock that his hair no longer had curls. They were all gone, and his hair now needs to grow out a bit. I was so shocked that I didn’t have a chance to find out what Velma was going to have done to her hair, and now I’ll never know.
The last time I saw Aunt Dixie she was living alone a couple of hours north of where I was living, and I’d driven up to see her. She had a fusty mobile home, her lifetime fitted into the nooks and crannies. She insisted on making me a dry bologna sandwich, though I said I was fine and in no need of sustenance, especially since the previous visit when she’d forced one on me. Aunt Dixie was not taking no for an answer.
Though her hair was no longer red, but pure white, she was still the same Aunt Dixie. She showed me some of her artifacts, one of which was a nude pencil drawing of her a boyfriend had made when she was much younger. She had, she told me, lots of admirers then, and lots of boyfriends. “I was really something then,” she said. I laughed with her and ate the dry bologna sandwich and warm glass of water, remembering that Aunt Dixie was young once, her whole life ahead of her, the world a giant box of surprises to be pulled out, one after the other, until the surprises are gone.
If we’re lucky, there’s always just one more surprise left though, just one more glittering package of wonder to open, before we’re done.