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!

51 thoughts on “Adequate Shop of Horrors

  1. I have had the same beautician cutting my hair for the last 14 years. When she retires I don’t know what I’ll do. I have had experiences like you discussed in my past too many times to count–and my mother whacked off my braids when I was about eight. I still have them, along with her french braids–they will go in the trash when someone comes and cleans out my house after I’m gone. Until then, they are a memory

  2. I had braids, too. I was in sixth or seventh grade when Mom decided I should have my hair cut and permed. She saved the braids, too. My perm looked like a Brillo pad. I found a photo of me recently and tossed it. All I can say is thankfully hair grows.

  3. re Hair cuts.
    Love to start out my day with an out-loud giggle. Thanks…. and sympathy! I have cut my own hair for decades. Can’t complain about the barber. Every time I see the photo of Albert Einstein, I will think of you.

  4. Your comments seem to bring back memories from long long ago. Today it was one of those long ago memories about Hair Cuts. Here goes:
    I was one of six children, three girls and three boys. Of the three girls I was blessed with “natural” curls. Not the tight ones, but just enough that I had nice long curls.Every year my Mama would line up her three girls and give them a hair cut. That is, except for me. She let mine grow until I had nice long curly hair. Or so I’m told my Mama’s sisters, my Kelley Aunts. Then, one day when I was four, Betty Lou was 7 and Helen was 9, Mama decided to include me in the Hair Cutting Day.
    She cut my hair —- and my brother Kenneth who was 16 at the time, was so upset that he couldn’t eat his Supper and I was told he cried for days about his baby sister’s lost hair. Mama was so upset with him, that she said she was never gonna cut my hair again — even if was so long I was sitting on it.
    Next story: My hair was not cut short until I was 14 and was on the Basketball team and trying to do something with my long curly hair. We didn’t know about Pony Tails in those days. One day I went home with one of my School teachers and the next day at school I had short hair for the first time in 10 years. It felt so good, I have never let it get long since.

    • As someone who cut her (thick, fine, curly) hair short for ice skating in 1979, I look at all the women who play basketball and other sports with waist-length hair, and think they are collectively insane! Some of them redo their ponytails a dozen times per game. That said, I had hair wars with my mother from the age of 8 to 25 (that dramatic cut for skating). She wanted it short and I wanted it long. I got no peace till I gave in to a cut. To some extent I think it is a generational thing.

  5. My mother going into 7th grade took me to a beauty shop was to trim my long hair, she had arrangement for my long hair to be cut in a pixie, when she got done all I could do was cry. After days of hearing me upset, she took me to another beauty shop for a perm, I don`t know how she even rolled it it was so short, well now I looked like a poodle. I started 7th grade like that and my hair isn`t fast growing. I was made fun of and picked on. I still member too well.

  6. Must be hair week because I was finally able to get into the hairdresser. The one I liked only had appointments in the afternoon and only one day a week. I was desperate, I took another hairdresser and had an appointment.
    Well, it ended up shorter than I have had it in 30 years. I also have some natural curl.
    Now I took my 3 boys to the barbers and never saw a bad haircut on them. I have thought many times that I should go to a barber instead of a hairdresser. I am about your age, Judy.

  7. Since turning 70, 6 years ago , my hair curls for the first time in my life. I had it cut a little shorter this last time and I now have an unruly mop. People will just have to accept this is the way I look, brushing changes nothing.

  8. It’s not funny, but it is. I think you look beautiful no matter what your hair looks like. This reminds me of when I was 10 years old and had to be put in a body cast that went from the top of my head to my knees. I was told I needed to get my hair cut short so my Mom took me to an adequate shop where my curls were cut. The hospital, however, said my hair was still too long, so Mom took me to the neighborhood barber, who really did give me the look of a shorn sheep! It was horrible! Yes, it did grow back after a year or so, but it was a slow process, so that’s why today my hair is below my shoulders – I may get it trimmed eventually, but I don’t want to look like that sheep anytime soon! Also, I love that limerick – It’s the people up front that I jar – since after facial paralysis in 2005, my face is lopsided and I tend to forget it until I see someone stare at me. Oh, well…

    • Valerie,
      I do not recall your face being lop-sided. I think you just have that thought in your mind.

      As for me, my hair is somewhat equal on both sides, but my mind is lop-sided!

      We are what we are.

  9. Im listening to Cold Betrayal again, and just heard your moms phrase last night. I had something similar happen in a mall hair salon. My ex husband told me I looked like I was stuck somewhere between a little old lady and a little boy. Like you, I never went back. I’ve now had the same stylist for 7 years.

  10. I can empathize with you. The worst haircut I ever got was decades ago when I got my hair cut in Carmel Valley. The hairdresser was going to get her divorce the next day and I had no idea until I got home that my hair was one length on one side and a completely different length on the other. It was a disaster. I should have gotten up when I heard her start talking about her divorce. But as you say, hair does grow

    • Like you, I should have RUN, not walked, out of the salon when my hairdresser was crying her eyes out when I arrived. She assured me she was okay. She lied. Don’t know what the drama was but it was one of the worst cuts I’ve ever gotten. It was my first and last visit to that salon.

  11. Funny story about the braids since it’s basically the same story I have, although I still have my braids and I’m soon to be 75. My dad told my mom, no more long hair on the girls because he hated it when she had my hair cut.

  12. Frankly, I’d love seeing it.
    Why not get a recommended stylist and (if good) stick with him or her?

  13. Oh, my favorite little ditty. Haven’t heard that one in a while.
    I feel your pain about haircuts. Never could do much with mine because it won’t grow much beyond touching my shoulders and then it frizzes. My sisters had long blonde hair. Me? Sorta brown, kinda curly. I slept in curlers until my senior year when I got a pixie and have kept it ever since, more or less, depending on the “stylist.”
    My mother thought I’d do better with a perm, so on my first Christmas vacation from college I get one. Let’s just say that my black buddy Queenie yelled, Soul sister,” when she saw me after Christmas. I wore a stocking cap the entire semester tying to flatten it down. Nom ore perms for me.

  14. Ladies,
    You have all made me smile. We’ve all been there and done that with the hair. Now that so many of us (I’m 70 1/2) are older, ahem, we’ve all learned to live with the motto: It will grow out.

  15. Wonderful story. I still have my braids in a box and I am 83. Fond memories. Good luck with your next hair style.

  16. Oh, no. I had that very thing happen to me in high school. I went to a man who was supposed to be great. I told him I wanted a flip. That was popular in th 60s. When he was done it was way too short, just below my ears, and there was no hair to flip up at all. I was devastated and cried when I got home. It looked awful and I didn’t want to go to school. Years later his son became a wonderful hair stylist and won many awards, so I went to him and never had a bad cut. Even had strangers stop me and ask me where I had gotten my hair cut. The only thing I can say, as you did, is that it will grow out in a month.

  17. Really surprised that the lady with so many long-time helpers for various things doesn’t have a regular hair person! Even if you only see them every few months, they are worth a lot! My long time, well trained by me person retired recently so I am starting on the dreaded search for a new one. This may be the hack job year for me too!

  18. My bad experience was many years ago I made the comment to thin my hair while getting a cut, my hair being very heavy and thick. She just went all over my scalp cutting. Well it did not take long for hair to be sticking up all over straight out. Needless to say I never made that comment ever again and also never went back to that shop again.

  19. It must be in the air! My usual stylist had surgery so I had to go to someone else. Mine isn’t horrible, but it’s not what I wanted and seems dated to me. Short layers on top and long sides. I’m glad my hair grows pretty fast.

  20. I am up to date on JP Beaumont and Joanna Brady. For some reason I have never got into Ali Reynolds. So with nothing exciting to read I decided to give her a try. Thus she now one of my favor people. And I have 18 more books to read.
    I was not surprised to find that Ali, just like Joanna and Beau, she speak the same language, JANCE-ESE. “What’s up” and “Will do”. I like that. It makes me, as a reader, feel I have a little inside connection to these great books. Thank you much.

    • In “Hand of Evil” (Ali Reynolds) her Mom Edie Larson says about a character who is
      nice, but unreliable, “He is not worth the powder it would take to blow him up!”
      That is just such a great line!! I love the Larson family!

  21. Yes, it will grow back and hopefully you two will find a better place to have your hair cut.

  22. I laughed out loud this morning reading your post!! The only difference is that my braiding sessions took place at the kitchen table and I did not get my braids cut off until after my father died. My mother, sister, and I finally got to cut the braids off when we moved to Montana from New York State. Mother was Norwegian and in my braids, I looked like something from Sons of Norway brochure or pictures of my great-grand mothers and aunts!!
    Some place, in a box in storage, is my two foot long braid.
    With the pandemic, have not been able to get an appointment, so my granddaughter decided that she would cut my hair. It has taken several months for my hair to grow out.
    Really love each series, especially the Walkers.

  23. Love your story and your sense of humor.
    I had a quick memory of my pony tail, didn’t ever have braids that I remember. Anyway, the pony tail was long, down my back and guess what, I got it cut and that piece of hair sat in a box for many years to look at, why did I ever save it? Now
    I keep my hair short and my hairdresser is the same I’ve had for many years and she knows my likes and dislikes, “don’t cut my bangs short” is my refrain and then I’m happy until next time.

  24. Thanks for the haircut-hassle story. I can really relate.
    After 16 months without a haircut due to pandemic housing, I finally got a haircut. I told my hairdresser I wanted a chin-length angled bob. Instead, I got the same blunt cut (earlobe length) that I had when I was five.
    [[::sigh::]] At least it will grow out!

  25. I have really enjoyed the comments this morning. Thank you all. As for permanents? They’re not. They’re temporary.

    • Unless they’re home-perm bobby pin permanents, lol. I thought it would NEVER grow out.

    • What woman among us has not had that tragic and infuriating experience?!
      I’m sure it was truly a blessing that you were not stopped by a cop on your way home- You would have been guilty of (1) Speeding (2) Insubordination toward Law-Enforcement (3) Resisting Arrest
      Lord knows how long you might have languished in jail!

  26. Just so happens that I’m going through the same thing. While talking to a new “stylist” I said I wanted it over my ears, me meaning hair, she meaning cut over the ears. With baby fine hair, I need to keep what I have.

    My very first beauty shop experience was a perm by that I mean a 1940s perm where they, after rolling the hair with very small curlers, hooked every curler to a wire & set me under a hood foe what seemed to be a very long time. I cried all the way home.

    That’s life.

  27. Thanks for the chuckle. Reminds me of when I was 9 and Aunt Ella offered to give me a perm. Trouble is, she had used the same brand (Crest) on someone else and it hadn’t taken very well, so she left it in my hair for an extra long time. However, my hair is very fine, and when we were done, it was in such tight little curls that we couldn’t get the brush through it, never mind the comb, so it had to stay in little corkscrews for awhile. At school the next day, I was supposed to pick a partner for something, and the girl I picked, who always got along with everybody, pursed her mouth out, frowned deeply, shook her head and turned her back. But, as you said, permanents are temporary, so by about a week, we could get the brush through it so that I then looked like one of those puff balls that grow by the side of the road.

  28. I used to envy Catholic nuns because their heads were covered and they never had to worry about their hair. Now so many wear regular clothes and have the same problems the rest of us do.

  29. One thought about over vs under rollers for toilet paper: found out that when the toilet paper holder was patented, it was shown with the paper in an over position. That’s how I hang mine – and it looks like you do, too!

  30. LOL, sure have been there myself. Tom and I do each other’s hair now, mostly satisfactory. Maybe you can try on some new hats! Hugs!

  31. I just consoled my great granddaughter who is upset with the haircut her Mom gave her. I reminded her that it will grow out! Maybe not as soon as she would like, but eventually it will be back to ponytail length. So, take heart and remember, yours will grow out, too. Thanks for the laughs.

  32. Thanks for the giggle! My mother took me to an inadequate shop for a bob — just like the one you wanted. When the butcher spun me around for the big reveal, I burst into tears. He gave me a BAD Prince Valiant haircut. My mother was mortified I cried about my hair, telling me (predictably) it would grow back. I bet she tipped him too.
    I started cutting my hair since COVID started — I always wondered what it would feel like to hack it off, like they do in the movies. It’s amazingly liberating. Plus, there’s no one else to blame if it’s ghastly. So far, though, Prince Valiant still wins the ugly prize.

  33. Shoot – I’m sorry! Even though hair grows out, it sure grows slowly when you want it to grow fast! Hoping you can figure out what to do with it in the meantime. Hugs to you!

  34. Being the oldest of 10 we never saw hairdressers or barbers. Somewhere around junior high I started cutting my own hair. My mother could not cut bangs straight to save her soul. They got shorter and shorter and more uneven. There were 6 boys and my dad had clippers. At the end of the summer, in prep for school, they were all lined up outside and cut even shorter than the normal buzz cut. My mother called it a peninsula cut. A long neck of dirt that stretches out to see.
    That is the first thing I did about 6 weeks ago, had my hair cut after missing about 5 cuts during covid. Luckily my hairdresser had relished having to only work 1 day a week, by herself, for all those months and kept her business open.

  35. Like your other readers, I put off getting haircuts as the results too easily fall into “unknown results”. I’ll snip at my own hair until that no longer is adequate. Covid put my long time haircut expert out of business. I think I’m now a candidate for the Limerick.

  36. How apprapos…Mary and I just returned from the haircutter’s shop and got such a chuckle from this post. Thanks!

  37. Funny story. Did I understand it right that you and Bill got your haircut in the same shop. Right there should have been a clue that things might turn out the way they did…Lol

    • I’ve had very good luck with barbers. They’re nowhere near as tied to fashion as most beauticians are, and there are a lot fewer toxic chemicals around their shops!

  38. I wore braids for so long as a child that it took many many years after my hair was cut for the middle part to be more manageable. I am 70 now, and to this day my hair still wants to part in the middle. Needless to say, neither of my girls ever wore braids like that. I have just discovered your Joanna Brady series a couple months ago and I just love them. Being an Arizona native I love the stories about the Bisbee area. Thank you!

  39. My hair is thick, fine, and curly. I could write a short book of hair stories, starting at age 8 when we moved to a small town and my mom took me to the local shop where the resident sadist reigned. “Tenderheaded, are you?” she cackled! That started ten years of hair wars with me refusing to get a cut and mom nagging and criticizing till I gave in. The beehive for the 9th grade dance…. Leaning over a candle after Thanksgiving dinner and burning off the right side of my long hair…. The lamentable result of a motorcycle ride with my long hair loose…. Getting tired of the long hair after I took up ice dancing, and having to ARGUE with the hairdresser who didn’t want to cut off as much as I did…. Fending off people in the grocery store who wanted to touch my toddler’s curls, which he hated (the touching)…. Lice in my daughter’s long hair when she was 7…. Giving in to the post-divorce boyfriend’s request and growing my hair, only to sing “gonna cut that man right outta my hair” when I tossed him out of my life…. Driving 45 minutes each way to follow a hairdresser who did what I wanted…. My son got dreadlocks… Looking like Frodo heading into Mordor by the time I got a haircut in 2020, 5 months after the pandemic shut down the adequate shops…. And I’m sure there will be more!

  40. Quarantine certainly changed my hair- I used to have it cut short, and colored-
    Now it is long and a silvery white- People have complimented me on it, and I have decided to stay natural- My hair lady is still working- When it’s safe, I will go for a trim- I’ve been going to her for 39 years- I sympathize with those abandoned by their hair experts, struggling to find a new one- The wrong stylist can create a disastrous look, such that the victim has to hide under house-arrest until the hair grows out!

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