For most of the fifty-some years of our marriage, John (Mr. John) has been my hairdresser. It's never been any more involved than whacking an inch or so off the end of my wet hair.
In my youth, I was taken to my mother's hairdresser and treated to some pretty terrible "do's," the last of which I brushed out before I left the salon. That was the end of that relationship.
I just never got into enjoying the beauty parlor/salon scene -- which is a shame as a busy, chatty beauty parlor could be a great resource for a writer. But for years the smell of permanent wave solution was anathema to me.
With a few exceptions. In 1960, my freshman year of college at Emory, bee hive hairdo's were a big deal and the salon Styles by Styles was the biggest of deals in Atlanta. So with a fraternity party weekend coming up with John in Gainesville, I bought a black cocktail dress and made an appointment with Mr. Styles.
I emerged with a strawberry-blond mound of shellacked hair and very little money left to see me through the month. As I recall, I liked the look -- but not enough to do it again.
After that I stuck to just having the ends trimmed and shoulder length hair that I myself sometimes dyed darker. There were more encounters with fancy hairdo's on a few occasions when I was a bridesmaid and a certain look was mandated. But at some point, probably by the Seventies, I got over all that.
By that time we were teaching at 'the hippie school' and I was wearing a long braid and not worrying about the threads of white that were emerging.
And so it went. Moving to the farm didn't change anything. In the forty-two years we've been here, I've had my hair cut professionally once, thirty years or so ago (and I can't remember why, only that it didn't seem like much of an improvement over Mr. John plus it cost more than I expected.)
But. When I was flat on my back in the hospital, the long hair was bothersome, plus with the dislocated shoulder, I couldn't raise my left arm to do anything with my hair. So I asked Mr. John to bring in the scissors and whack a bunch off.
It got cut once more at the nursing home and from then till a few months ago, I would struggle to pin it back with bobby pins . . . but this solution just wasn't satisfactory. And as I've gotten older, my hair had thinned drastically -- what used to work for me, doesn't anymore.
I began to toy with the idea of seeking professional help. But the memory of bad experiences in the past and a fear of being talked into something I didn't want made me drag my feet. What it the professional wanted to dye my hair blue? Or give me one of those little old lady perms?
Then a friend, whose hair always looks terrific . . . and simple, mentioned she got her hair cut at a little place that's halfway between our house and the grocery store. I'd noticed it -- Pam's Hair Design -- a tiny little place that takes walk in's.
So one day I walked in. Pam already had a customer (it's a one chair operation) and I didn't want to wait so I braved up and made an appointment for another day.
It was painless. Pam listened to what I wanted -- off the face, layers in back, fairly short, something that doesn't require fiddling with -- wash and wear, in fact. And that's what she did.
I feel sure that most of my readers (if you've gotten this far) are thinking Good grief, What a fuss! It's just a haircut. And you're right. I'm embarrassed to have been so slow to do what was the obvious thing. But as soon as my hair dried after the cut, I loved the way it felt -- lighter, almost weightless.
As time has passed and my hair has figured out how to respond to the new length(s), I'm still happy with the look. In fact, I foresee becoming a semi-regular at Pam's. Not once a week as my mother and her contemporaries did but now and then.
Mr. John is out of a job -- but I'll still cut his hair.