Issue 111, Summer 1989
Let’s us celebrate small town beauticians.
All the women ones and some of them kind, particular and tasteful boys. Godsends, the entire curling bunch. Underpaid, they do more local good than many doctors I could name.
I have aged way past their help. See this doormat hair? it’s now such white witch’s straw, all I know to do with it is roll the mess into a bun and put both it and Vanity behind me. I miss Lolly’s magical hired hands pouring almost-scalding water across my brainpan, anointing me towards looking at least so-so again. My personal hair coach lectured me whenever I saved up for a visit to her Palace of Permanents, said, “I got three words for you, Lucille, and three only: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize.”— Darling? at my dry age, that’s easier said than done.
I sit here in this bed of our charity home, half-blind now. But, eyes purposefully shut, I lately try and focus on Local Beauty, which really is the only kind. Nurses wash my hair just once the week—you need it more if you’ve been proud in life as I was and —on sunnier days —am yet. Good days, I can al- most feel my rangy Lolly standing back of me, sitting queenly here, both of us facing facts, the mirror. Me, I never was a beauty, but maintenance I always understood and still respect.
Let’s sing about the under-tipped and overworked, hands burned by strong chemicals, souls weighed by confessions from the pincurled. “Lolly’s Palais de Beaute Feminine du Falls, (NC), manicures, Vendredi et Mercredi”. Let’s go back, you mind?
My husband, a veteran of the Civil War (the man that later grew famous as its last survivor) hit me sometimes. War, it made him, he said afterwards. But such nicks, lumps and bruises meant I needed Lolly more. He only hit on drunken Fridays, this was Saturday, and tomorrow I had Sunday School to teach. People shouldn’t see a starter-shiner and the knot at my left temple. Lolly, help! I settled our nine children with my best friend, a black woman who was —I now think, looking back —probably the true love of my life, but that’s another story. Free of kids, I buttoned on my white pearl-buttoned gloves. I used them only for weddings, funerals, and Lolly’s.
I was alone today—with nothing hanging on to me at either side. Felt like I might float away into the elm trees that’d grown so much since my girlhood.