Adequate Shop of Horrors

From kindergarten through most of third grade I wore my hair in braids. That meant that three mornings a week, between seven-thirty and eight, I sat facing backwards on the only toilet in the house while my mother, Evie, braided my hair. After parting it down the middle, she would French braid the hair above my ears until it was flat against my head. When she got to the hair in the back, she would work the top braid into that. The resulting two braids hung down to my shoulders, each of them a foot long and fastened at the bottom with a tiny rubber band from the Bisbee Daily Review. Before the braiding ordeal, I loved looking at that wavy mop of hair in the mirror. I thought it was beautiful. “Yup,” my mother would say, “just like the waves on a slop pail.”

The braiding process wasn’t exactly instantaneous. It took time, and that time was spent with me staring at the toilet paper hangar on the wall beside me. Sometimes I made up stories about the shadow it cast, and I always wondered why my mother was an under-roller as opposed to an over-roller as far as toilet tissue was concerned. Guess which one I turned into once I had my own place and that decision was up to me? But I digress.

In third grade my mother evidently had her fill of braiding, and off we went to Endicott’s Barber Shop on Arizona Street. It was located in a small storefront next to the post office and just down from Warren Drug. Mr. Endicott’s barber shop stations were on one side of the thin partition that divided the space in half. Mrs. Endicott’s beauty shop stations were on the other.

Once Evie and I arrived, I climbed into one of the chairs and waited for Mrs. Endicott to make me beautiful. After all, wasn’t that what it was—a beauty shop? Isn’t that wha was supposed to happen there?

Here’s what really happened. Mrs. Endicott put a second rubber band at the top of the long section of each braid and then used a scissors to whack the braid off just above the top rubber band. Believe me, the result was anything but beautiful, and if you’ve ever wondered why Joanna Brady refers to beautician establishments as “adequate shops,” now you know. My mother brought the hacked off braids home with us and put them in a round decorative tin container. I carried that maroon container and the dead braids around with me for decades, but they’re long gone now. However, the memory lingers on.

This week I had a visit from that unwelcome Ghost of Christmas Past. I got a haircut. I went to one of those mall-based places where I could get my haircut while Bill got his. We had registered on-line, so we should have had fist dibs, but when it was my turn, the stylist I wanted took the woman after me and I was shuttled off to a male reincarnation of Mrs. Endicott. When he asked what I wanted, I told him I wanted a bob without a part in the middle and one that would turn under all the way around. Then, wearing my mask but without either my glasses or hearing aids, I settled into the chair—and got hacked.

By the time my so-called stylist got around to cutting the hair I could see, it was so short it didn’t come to the bottom of my ears much less below them! When I paid the bill, I didn’t leave a tip. I left the shop in a huff with my hair sticking out in all directions and looking for all the world like the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. I cussed all the way home, and I probably didn’t obey any posted speed limits, either. Had a cop pulled me over on the way, I probably would have gone to jail!

When I woke up this morning, I looked like that photo of Albert Einstein. You know, the one where his hair is standing on end! The hair on the back of my neck is so short, I can’t get the brush around it far enough to curl it under, but it is what it is. I know that my hair will grow out eventually, just as it did in the aftermath of Mrs. Endicott, but it will take time. Fortunately I don’t have any upcoming Zoom events in the near future.

As for Bill’s haircut? It’s only marginally better than mine, so we won’t be going back to that place anytime soon, but not to worry. The good news is, it’ll be months before either of us is due for another adequate shop visit.

In the meantime, we’ll both be looking the way we look, which reminds me of one of my favorite limericks.

As a beauty I’m not a great star,
There are others more handsome by far.
But my face? I don’t mind it.
For I am behind it.
It’s the people up front that I jar.

Have a great week!