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It was the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Everyone was trying to find themselves, look out for number one, and make peace at any price. The fear of Sputniks, invasions from Mars, and ...
It was the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Everyone was trying to find themselves, look out for number one, and make peace at any price. The fear of Sputniks, invasions from Mars, and fallouts topped the list of things scaring the hell out of everybody. Music changed from country and folk to rockabilly to rock-and-roll by Elvis the pelvis. Then, there was sweet soul music, the British Invasion and disco.
Hairdos went from French twists, Beehives, and Barrel Curls to the Flip, just in time for everyone to flip out, tune in, and turn on. The big blue, Valium, soon calmed the wave of high anxiety that was suddenly upon us. You know the old saying about the 60s...If you remember the 60s, then you weren't there.
Enjoy, it's a keeper! Also included are a few poems and little life lessons we should learn to make this world a better place.
My name is Francesca. I am a baby boomer, first year, and darn proud of it, mostly because I have made it this far and still have some faculties left. I am of French and Scotch-Irish descent. Half of me is Yankee and the other half Southern-a mixed-up medley from the get-go. I am a girl who was raised in the south, a hairdresser, and a behind-the-chair psychiatrist, although not intentionally. I've heard it all and seen it all. Maybe I participated, maybe not. I married a few too many times and breathed a little too much hairspray, bleach, and perms. I have "dain brammage." I popped onto the planet doing hair. Most of my baby pictures showed me frantically playing with my hair. My daddy was next in line to fall prey to my curious little fingers. Our favorite was the Alfalfa look from The Little Rascals. Daddy loved it and so did I.
My mom taught me how to give Barbie dolls perms with sugar water. I only wish she had used sugar water on my straight frog-fur hair. Instead, she fried my fine hair with back porch perms with great regularity, much to my chagrin. Barbie's hair always turned out better than mine. I hated Barbie for her hair. My hair always looked like an abused Brillo Pad.
When I was seven years old, I began cuttingmy hair and my friends' hair. Amazingly, they kept their ears, I kept all my fingers, and they didn't look too bad either. At age thirteen, I tweezed my eyebrows so thin that I haven't seen them since.
My first and last visit to a salon as a customer left me so petrified that I vowed never to return. I asked for a pageboy cut but got a poodle, and not the puppy. I was so skinny and my hair was so curly, I looked like walking cotton candy on a stick. Every woman in town had their little cookie cutter poodle do's. That experience was my first observation that people just don't listen or just don't care enough to. It's hard to tell the difference. That is where I learned the frequently unused part of communication-listening. From then on, I was a do-it-yourself kind of girl.
When I was fifteen and a sophomore in high school, my girlfriend Sandra bounced into typing class so excited one day. "My Uncle Dusty is opening up a beauty salon," she said. Let's go to beauty school on the buddy system so we can work our way through college."
After three seconds of deep deliberation, I said, "Why not!" I mean, I was already doing it! (Hair that is, not it. Well, I might have thought of it.)
Now I had to convince my dad to pay for beauty school. He had saved for my college, and now I wanted to do this. Sandra wanted to be a doctor. I always imagined I would be a wife, mother, and PTA president just like my mom. Well, none of that happened, but plenty of other stuff did.
I thought it would be fun! That was my only thought right then. In the immortal words of the Beach Boys, "We'll have fun, fun, fun till Daddy takes my T-Bird away." Of course, I didn't have a T-Bird or even a driver's license for that matter, but hey, I thought if I twisted enough hair I could buy a T-Bird and cruise right into college.
I promised Daddy I would still go to college and study psychology after I finished playing beauty shop during high school. It turns out I fibbed, but not intentionally. We started beauty school at the end of our sophomore year and finished in January of our senior year of high school. By that time, we were having too much fun making our own money, partying, and creating our own special education in psych to think of college.
There is one thing I know for sure and that is if you want a well-rounded education in psychology, just step behind a hydraulic chair with a pair of scissors and a comb and see what all you hear and see.
As soon as someone's butt hits a beauty shop chair, their mouth flies open, and out spews all their mental illnesses, marital problems, and bedroom chatter. My mind is a storehouse of all the garbage I heard over four decades behind the chair. Most of it I cannot repeat because I didn't pay attention to it to start with and most of what I did hear I do not remember.
My crazy career began right at the beginning of beauty school in March of 1962. My life was about to change in ways I could have never imagined. In retrospect, I wish Daddy had made me go to college, but my education would not have been the same as the hands-on one I received.
I got an education in psychology all right, but it was from the real psychos I met in and out of the beauty shops and my boyfriends and husbands. Oh my, wonderful creatures-some you have to toss back into the ocean when they start to stink.
A lot of them needed a label on their forehead that read, "Run like hell. I'm a jackass." Those are the ones I usually ran into ... It's a hairdresser thing. Most hairdressers I know feel that if they can fix hair, they can fix anything or anyone. A lot of us hairdressers share the same sort of incurable illness: knowing that we can fix it all and failing miserably half the time.
Sandra and I went to beauty school two nights a week and on Saturdays during the school year. All summer long, we went every day. We graduated beauty school in the middle of our senior year of high school, so for the rest of the year we were "professionals."
That was when it all began! We worked the rest of high school and graduated in 1964. We did hair for all the prom queens, princesses, and cheerleaders. On graduation night, I cut six of my friends' hair at our motel slumber party after the graduation party. We were all a little tipsy. How I managed not to cut a finger off is beyond my comprehension.
After graduating high school, Sandra and I started working full time. Neither of us went to college. We meant to, but we both received an education far different than we would have if we had gone. Little did I know, I was embarking on a cartoon I could have never dreamed up. My psychology education turned psycho, and so did I!
Happy Tail's Fluff 'Em, Puff 'Em, Move 'Em On Out Salon
In the summer of 1964, I married Peter and began my professional career at the Fluff 'Em, Puff 'Em, Move 'Em On Out Salon, virtually at the same time. I do not believe in screwing up things just one at a time. I prefer doing it all at once and getting it over.
It was a rather small but tasteful salon that we will simply call Fluff 'Em. Fluff 'Em was located in an alcove of a shopping center. There was a new Italian restaurant in the alcove, so we always had a place to escape. As customers walked in, the salon had a reception desk with an armoire behind it that held the shampoos, etc. for sale. The desk and armoire also divided the reception area from the dryer area directly behind it. There were five styling chairs to the left and the dryer/frying area across from them. The dryer area was set up in a semicircle about five feet behind our chairs. There were about two feet in between each chair, so the stylists were always running into each other. The owner's chair was behind a partition at the back. Three shampoo bowls were at her back. She had her own little hidey-hole. We wished it had been in the back alley.
The owner of Fluff 'Em was a menopausal maniac we dubbed Happy Tail. Gladys was her name, and screaming was her game. She was a beautiful woman with perfectly coiffed bleached blonde hair, perfect makeup, enviable porcelain skin, and a fabulous smile with flawlessly drawn on I Love Lucy heart-shaped lips.
Always impeccably dressed, she exuded perfection, but underneath all the glamour was a ticking time bomb. She was in the worst phase of menopause-totally hormonal, wildly unstable, nuttier than a fruitcake, and ready to explode at any nanosecond. Sidestepping her moods was like riding a psychotic jackass through a flaming hoop in a circus (a.k.a. Glad Ass). I fondly remember her as psycho bitch from hell.
Gladys was a great stylist, but her attitude toward bleach and perms was somewhere between neglect and absolute indifference. Watching her do perms and colors scared the hell out of me. It was pretty much an everyday occurrence that she would put chemicals on someone's hair and leave. She would walk right out to go to lunch without the slightest thought of the smoking holocaust she left behind for us. She must have sniffed too much bleach over the years, and it fried her brain.
Her customers thought burning, blistering scalps were the norm. They even brought prescription ointments into the salon with them for Gladys to put on them after perms and colors. In the mid-'60s, litigation was not as prevalent, and women had to have a blonde bouffant helmet. Southern women did not dare sue anyone for their burned hair. If they did, then someone would know they had it bleached. God forbid. Ha! Like no one could tell. Everyone wanted a bouffant at any price, be it oozy scalp or just a plain burn. Women never touched their hair. They were afraid to. When Gladys finished with their hair, it would not move in a class five hurricane anyway.
All the hair back then was teased big, concrete stiff, and shampooed once a week. Women wrapped toilet paper around their hairdo at night, secured it with silver clippies, and slapped a pink hair net over it. There were many happy husbands and a lot of them worked "late."
It was birth control of the finest kind. "Don't touch my hair" was the mantra of the day in the '60s. It was all beehives, barrel curls, and bangs that swirl.
Back then, we were afraid of space creatures invading us. Have you looked at old photos of yourself? Scary, huh? Maybe they walked among us. Maybe we were them. See what breathing hairspray, nail polish, and ammonia does to your brain? It makes you think weird stuff like that!
In the mid-'60s, I left a Leave it to Beaver childhood and catapulted myself into the wide wonderful world of marriage and career. I was still seventeen but almost eighteen years old. What was I thinking? I did not think; I just did. I lived in the moment. You know carpe diem and all that crap.
I was fresh out of high school and recently married to my high school sweetheart, Peter, whom I had known all my life. Everything happened at warp speed. I was working for a raging fruitcake at Fluff 'Em, Puff 'Em, Move 'Em On Out salon in Hicksville, Tennessee, who was driving me crazy. Then one day at Christmastime, I arrived home early from Fluff 'Em and found out the man I married was not exactly who or what I thought he was. My whole world flipped upside down with the turn of a doorknob.
When I opened the door, much to my utter amazement, confusion, and horror, I saw my husband of six months playing Yankee Doodle on his peek-a-boo with a barbershop vibrator strapped to his hand. Holy sausages! I didn't even know we owned one. I guess it was a gift from his newfound boyfriend, paraplegic, try-anything Ray, who was laughing hysterically and slapping his leg braces when I popped in.
Peter and his friend were frolicking on my brand-new hunter green couch as I entered the apartment. Ray was holding onto his crutches for dear life, steadying himself, trying not to fall off the couch because he was laughing so hard. The couch faced the front door, so it was the first thing I saw when I came in. The boys did not have time to run and hide. Besides, Peter was too busy showing Ray how much he liked his new toy. He seemed to love it because he did not stop when I walked in. He was determined to finish his little ditty. Can you say try-sexual?
In the immortal words of Little Richard, "Good golly Miss Molly, sure like to ball" ... with anyone.
My mouth dropped open. All I could do was gawk. I stood there frozen in time at a sight I certainly had never seen in my nearly eighteen years on planet Earth. My feet would not move. My brain could not process what my eyes were seeing. If Peter said anything to me, I didn't know it. I doubt he did. You know how males get caught up in finishing things for themselves. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I fled the scene. I whirled around and zoomed across the street at the speed of light to my friend's dorm room. Peter and I lived in an apartment just across the street from the college she attended.
I think I beat an Olympic world record.
Amy snuck me into her dorm room. I was stunned. I could not speak. When I was finally able to utter a sound and form a word, I told Amy what happened. She laughed so hard tears ran down her face. We tried to muffle each other's laughs and guffaws when we heard the dorm mother approach. Amy crammed me into her closet and slammed the door just in time to evade the dorm patrol. I fell over shoes and into so many clothes, which made me laugh even harder. By now, I was snorting like Petunia Pig having an orgasm, trying to keep from laughing out loud. I slapped my hand over my mouth. If we had been caught, Amy would have been in deep poo-poo.
After the dorm mother left, Amy extricated me from her closet. I thought I was going to suffocate in there. Then we began again to dissect what I saw. Neither of us knew exactly what it all meant. We just knew it was not anything we had ever heard of. It was the '60s, and nothing like that was on television. We had just gotten color TV and had just graduated from rabbit ears to antennas! This certainly would have never happened in black and white. In the midst of my confusion, my own antennas finally shot up.
I was just plain pissed.
How dare he not figure that little detail out before our big church wedding! Before the engagement and wedding the newspaper had smeared all over town. The wedding my dad paid for out of my college fund. The wedding my mother slaved over as tailor, florist, and cook. She and her friend did the whole shebang! Every dress, every flower, every morsel of food, not to mention all those friggin' pictures Dad paid out the wazoo for! Now I was steaming mad.
It was a good thing Peter's friend was an attorney ... no charge for that divorce. Back then, divorce was akin to burning in hell, especially in my family, and not something I had ever planned. I was too afraid! Dogma fear was and still is the very worst kind! That causes wars, I do believe.
My mother was my witness at the divorce. The judge ordered a reconciliation period. Ha! You could have knocked me over with a feather when all of a sudden my soft-spoken mother jumped up, pounded the table with her fist and said, "Under no circumstances can or will there be any kind of reconciliation." That silenced the judge, and that was that. Atta girl, Mom! Thanks!
Reconcile my lily-white ass, I'd show him a penile reconciliation that vibrates! That was my first short-lived sexploration into the wide wonderful world of marriage. It was not to be the last. Sometimes life just slaps you silly and flips you upside down in mire you never knew existed. One down ... too many more to go. I just had to laugh the whole experience off. There was no point in shooting a dead horse. I was not happy anyway, and by then I had figured my life would never be normal with that episode as a start toward adulthood.
Just call me Abby ... Abby Normal!
Oh My God ... That Dryer Is a Time Machine
It was 1966. I was happily divorced and having a great time hanging out with my friends. I was living in the house I grew up in with my friend Amy. She had finished college and was working for Ma Bell, the local telephone company. I had reached the ripe old age of nineteen. I was pushing twenty and learning more about my business and the people surrounding it. The more I learned, the more I began to question my sanity for choosing it as my career path. The next happening really gave me pause. I still find it hard to believe that someone could have done this to another human being, but they did.
Excerpted from Split Ends by Franelle Copyright © 2009 by Franelle. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted November 10, 2009