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Where Pampering at a Ladies Salon Leads by Deke Cutter


Note: All this stuff about hair washing at a Beauty Parlor got me thinking. This is kind of a parody.


Betty Smith had run ‘Betty’s Beauty Box’ for nearly 40 years. It was a traditional ladies hair salon. Many of her ‘old dears’ still used the old term and called it a beauty parlor and referred to her stylists as ‘operators,’ a term largely out of style since the middle 1960’s. Betty’s clientele tended to be older and a few conservative-minded younger women. She kept to the old ways that her clients felt comfortable with, including the large hood dryers and lots of curlers and old-style permanents. Betty and her staff had a good rapport with her "ladies." She had two full-time stylists, Marie and Frank and a part time shampoo girl and Gladys who was semi-retired. Things seemed to be going along quite smoothly, the way they all liked it, until they noticed a strange young man lurking outside the shop. Betty had an odd feeling about him. She didn’t feel threatened by him, he looked far too feckless. But she did not like his hanging around. Finally, she went out and confronted him. "Young man, is there something we can do for you? We have noticed you loitering out here for several days."

"I would like a wash and set please. My curly hair is so difficult to style and your shop looks exactly like the type of place that will give me the treatment I am looking for."

Betty looked at him as if he were joking. "Is this some sort of Internet prank? I am not in the mood!"

"Oh no, ma’am. I love being pampered in a salon."

"Well, my clientele is mostly mature ladies so it would be best if you could come in at the end of the day or first thing."

"Oh, the end of today will be fine."

"Be here at 5:45 PM."

When Betty returned to the shop, Frank asked her what was up. She explained that ‘the lurker’ wanted to come in for ‘a wash and set’ and ‘to be pampered.’

"You want me to take him? Frank asked with a smirk on his face.

"Not initally. I think I’m going to ask Gladys to work her magic on him. You may be needed later. Do you still have that bottle of tequilla Mrs. Williams gave you for Christmas?"

"Yeah, I hate the stuff, I never took it home."

"Well, let’s make sure we can pamper our new client with some nice cocktails."

At 5:45, a very excited new client entered "Betty’s Beauty Box." Betty was at the reception desk. She asked him to have a seat. Frank, a stapping 6’2’’ athlete brought him a tequilla sunrise and said "on the house for our new clients" and quickly disappeared before any questions could be asked. The young man sipped his drink and quickly found that he had finished it. Betty put another one in front of him before he knew it. When he was half way through and feeling slightly tipsy, Frank returned and said, "let me bring you back to the washing station. Bring your drink with you. Let me carry it for you." By the time Frank had him gowned up, the drink was miraculously filled again. Marie, the youngest of the fulltime staff and the one with the gentlest touch appeared to begin the shampoo. She turned on the water, got it just right, toweled his nick and back and carefully layed him back. The young man, by now, quite comfortably numb from the cocktails thoroughly enjoyed Marie’s gentle ministrations of shampoo, rinse, repeat, condition. She quietly complimented his lovely hair and after a final rinse, she gently raised the barely awake client to an upright position, towel dried his hair lightly, and took him to Gladys’ station. Frank had already brought his drink over.

"Hello baby, I’m Gladys, I’ll be taking care of you now." The young man was so far gone that he just smiled dreamily. Gladys gently combed through his hair and said, "alright my lovely, you like your curls, we are going to make you a lovely curly style." The client only heard "lovely curls" and started to drift off. Gladys began to cut the hair, starting at the back and slowly working her way all over his head, as she noticed his eyes were closed. When she had his hair to a uniform 3 inches, she started inserting small rollers all over his head.

The young man opened his eyes and said "oh curlers, how nice" and drifted off again.

Once Gladys had all the curlers in, she took the squeeze bottle with the latest permanent solution that was considerably less malodorous than earlier versions. Next she placed the cotton around the edges, put a towel over his head and gently touched his shoulder saying, "time for the dyer dear." In a daze, the client, with Gladys’ assistance moved over to the row of dryers. Gladys turned the dryer on and told him she would be back. He quickly drifted off again.

The young client felt his arm being shaken. He felt slightly confused. Then he remembered. "OK, dear, you are nice and dry, time to style your curls." He was suddenly thrilled, he remembered all the wonderful pampering he had received. He sat in the stylist’s chair, facing toward the reception area. The curlers were removed and he thought that his head felt much lighter. Gladys went to work with a long toothed comb that she used to arrange his hair. She was very gentle and took her time. Eventually, she said, "now let me just clean up your neck. My girls always love this part." She took a small pair of battery clippers and ran them around his hair line. Then she said she would just tidy up those sideburns and "then we’ll be ready to show you the new you!" He was so excited he could hardly wait. Gladys called the whole team and slowly turned him around toward the mirror.

What he saw was a shock. Gone were his long soft curls. In their place, a headful of very tightly permed curls, cut close to his head. His sideburns were cut into twee ‘v’ shapes as was his neck. "What’s the matter honey? My ladies love this curly style, you don’t have to fuss with it at all. We thought that you would want the kind of treatment that our usual clients get."

"NO! You’ have ruined my hair."

Betty was not having this. "Hold on you young brat. You said you wanted to be pampered. My entire staff stayed late to give you a pampering. You accepted everything we did. Gladys, do you want to play back what you recorded of him agreeing to his course of styling?"

"Alright, alright, I thought I deserved to be pampered. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t really pampering. But please, I can’t go out looking like this."

"Well," Betty said, "it will cost you for a second haircut."

"That is fine, whatever."

"Frank is trained as a barber as well as a cosmetolegist. He will give you a man’s haircut."

"Come on pal, let’s get you into my chair." The client followed Frank to his chair. Frank went to the storage room and came out with a striped barber caped and a large pair of clippers. "Gladys already cut your hair pretty short. To get rid of the perm, the best thing is to buzz it all off." With that, Frank plugged the clippers in, slapped a number two guard on them and went to work. Once he got all the curls off, he switched to a number one and took the back and sides down. He then brought out a disposable straight razor, took the sideburns off at the top pf the ears and squared the neck off nice and high. When Frank was done, the young client looked like he was military school cadet. The client raised his hands and gingerly touched his head. "I think it suits you," Frank said.

"I I’ve never had it this short. My mother always made me keep my hair on the long side and she was never happy with the way it was cut and styled."

"Well, kid, I’m not telling you to keep your hair this short, but there plenty of good barbers in this town. I suggest you try a couple of them. Here’s my card. I work at the place on the card on weekends. I can fix you up with a good cut when you are ready."

The young client paid his bill and left. He was never seen lurking at "Betty’s Beauty Box" again.




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