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.