Curlers

Curler: (n) rollers on which locks of hair are wound or clamped for

For most of my adult life, I have toured with women.

There are worse jobs.

I suppose at a later time, I can go into detail about the physiology, psychology and even the spirituality of being so closely entwined with all these delightful daughters of Eve.

Today I would just like to talk about curling hair.

There was a time when it was very popular. I think the favorability of women curling their hair is based upon how sick they get of straight hair dangling in their face. This creates the backlash—welcoming curls.

There was one particular young woman of my acquaintance who faithfully curled her hair before every show.

Now please understand, when I use the word “show,” I’m not speaking of huge theaters and venues with doormen. In the era of our voyaging, we performed in just as many single-room coffeehouses as concert halls.

It didn’t matter.

This devoted, divinely inspired, dedicated young damsel refused to go onstage anywhere without curling her hair.

Even when there was no stage, she still required fifteen minutes—where all she needed was an electrical outlet, her hot curlers and a chance to roll her hair up, let it set for five minutes and then remove them, leaving behind her do.

She always looked great.

Her hair appeared so beautiful when it was curled that I went to a barbershop and asked them if they could do a perm in my hair. (This was back when that hairstyle had not yet been relegated to the Kingdom of Foolishness.)

It took a lot of courage for me to decide to get a perm, and even more to ask for it. Yet without even taking a breath or missing a beat, the barber responded:

“You don’t have enough hair for a perm.”

This really hurt.

I wasn’t sure I wanted a perm, but to know that I was already bald enough—or on the path to it—that I was not permitted to even consider one, was depressing.

So unlike my traveling companion with her curlers, I just did my best with a soft hairbrush and a splat of water.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Clean-cut

Clean-cut: (adj) giving the appearance of neatness and respectability.

He was Mr. Wintermute.

I did not know his first name since I was a young boy and was not allowed to speak it, or for that matter, hear it. He was our village barber.
He cut hair.

I didn’t like to have my hair cut. I didn’t have any reason. Mr. Wintermute was a nice enough fellow. I suppose in today’s culture, we might accuse him of having “soft hands,” but such things were not considered when I was a young’un growing up.

He offered two possibilities in his shop. The first was called “regular,” and the second was called “butch.”

A butch haircut was one that was combed to the top and then clipped down to look like grass on a putting green.

A regular haircut was a little splash of hair left on the top and white walls on the sides.

Mr. Wintermute did not take special orders.

He had a little speech he delivered every time I went into his chair. “Yes, it’s good that you came. You’re looking a little shaggy, like the dog in the Disney movie. Let’s see what we can do to make you look clean-cut again.”

By clean-cut, Wintermute meant shaving everything in sight, leaving unattractive stubble around the ears, and a clump of what appeared to be crab grass on top. Of course, that clump needed to be clean-cut also, so he offered Brylcreem to smooth it down. And even though “a little dab’ll do you,” Mr. Wintermute was much more generous.

I would actually walk out of the barber shop feeling chilly–because suddenly my ears were on their own, to stay warm. My chubby face now just looked fat–and all the adults around me, who were advocates of clean-cut, “o-o-h-ed and a-h-h-ed” to maintain the belief that how one cut one’s hair actually had something to do with character.

Mr. Wintermute has long ago passed away. I think he would be very pleased that I wrote this essay about him, highlighting a time in American history when how we looked was the essence of who we were.

 

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Barber

Barber: (n) a person who cuts hairDictionary B

They called it a “regular.”

When I was eleven years old, my mother made me repeat the word “regular” back to her, so I would know what kind of haircut to ask for when I went to our barber, Mr. Smythe.

I hated to go.

Mr. Smythe was a nice man–small, soft-spoken and now, as I look back on it, probably gay. In our town, it was illegal to be gay, to think about being gay, or even to mention the word “homosexual.” So Mr. Smythe was more than likely hiding out behind his scissors and clippers.

And I now realize that he was probably just as terrified when I arrived at his barbershop as I was to climb up in his big chair and have him snip at my locks.

We struggled through fifteen minutes of conversation, which deteriorated with each of his questions, which I finalized with a “yes” or “no.”

I was always glad when we got to the end of the experience and he began to brush my hair to dispel all the dislodged members.

But then he would ask the most embarrassing question of all: “Would you like me to put some smell-good on you, for the ladies?”

I was only eleven years old, and the only ladies I knew were still forcing their way into my life to wipe my nose with Kleenex.

I don’t remember what I ever mumbled back, but sometimes he smeared me with aftershave, and on other occasions we would forego the ordeal.

I had my dollar and a quarter all ready for him, and as I left, he pretended we had made an amazing connection, and told me to “stop in any time.”

I didn’t. I only went when my mother decided I needed to display more ears.

I think about him from time to time.

  • What was his story?
  • Where did he end up?
  • Was he ever able to come out of the barber’s closet?

Perhaps he just a real sweet guy who liked women and was kind to little boys like me … who had not yet learned how to correctly answer questions.

 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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