I Gotta Straighten My Face

Life has changed a great deal since Daria and I were rugrats hiding under the appointment desk in our grandmother’s beauty salon. For instance, at the time, Gram said, “Get up off the carpet. You’ll get hair splinters,” so we’d go play in the basement with mousetraps and bait. Now you can’t get your nails done without wearing a bicycle helmet. For real peculiarity, few things beat the mental image of the family hair salon in which half the stylists are smoking and the other half are delicately nibbling patty melts between appointments and some of them are punching holes in the ozone layer with the thick cloud of Aquanet they’re using to cement Mrs. Becker’s coif into place for the coming week. Mom, the pretty daughter-in-law, washes hair with a cigarette in the ashtray next to the sink. Auntie InExcelsisDeo is a star. Everyone loves her daring and glamorous haircuts, her architectural roller sets and dramatic comb outs. She is in demand, week after week. Everyone talks, but Gram forbids gossip. East Brunswick, even along Route 18, is still a small town and people could get hurt. Gram’s brothers have salons of their own, and some of her nieces and nephews have salons, too. Since I cannot deny my high-hair heritage, I am grateful that ‘burpless’ grass may reduce the environmental impact of that patty melt.

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