Girl Talk

I pushed the button on my phone as I left yoga to see that Shelby had called.  Shelby cuts my hair and on my list of VIPs he falls just behind anyone with whom I share DNA.  "Darn.  Sick," was my first thought.

"Patricia, I'm just making sure you're alright.  We had you down at 9:45...." Just so you know, "making sure you're alright" is code for "where the hell are you?"  Or it would be, except Shelby is so nice.  I had him on my calendar at 11:15 and I'm not quite sure you can understand the importance of this in my life, but this one misstep might have meant that I would not have a haircut (and color, to be honest) for four more weeks.  Which in the scheme of things means nothing, but in my day-to-day, well, it's significant.

I called. He relented. I went, slightly sheepish in my workout wear and slippers.  As I "processed," a woman I have known for twenty years was having her hair dried.  When wet, it springs in inky dark ringlets hitting just at her jawline.  As Shelby worked her hair with a brush the circumference of my fist it bloomed into the most delicious curls.  Big, soft and full, they framed her face in a kind of Hollywood glam I fear I'll never know.  She looked back at me through the mirror with dark eyes and I mouthed, "I want my hair to look like that."  She smiled.

Back in the chair, where I should have been quietly grateful and repentant, I looked up at Shelby from under bare lashes and said, "I want to have big hair."  Not in a Veruca Salt kind of way, but wistfully.  Just shy of desperate.  Rather than apply the flat side of a brush to my backside, he went to work.

As I left, less conscious of my yoga pants and no make-up, I glanced into the book store window on my way by.  Big, golden curls winked back and in an instant I thought, "Sometimes it is so fantastic to be female."

Photography, Howell Conant, with thanks to the helpful reader.