RACHEL AND MONICA by Shearingly
“Come on Jennifer, I can’t wait to get going!”
“O.K. Courteney, I’ll be ready in five seconds.” Jennifer had just gotten some advance copies of the Rolling Stone magazine on the cover of which was her picture – in the nude! She put a couple of them in her suitcase.
These two, known to their viewing public as “Rachel” and “Monica” were going to use the break from shooting F*R*I*E*N*D*S to go on a trip together. They wanted the time to relax but also to work out the details on some business ventures they planned to try together. They were headed up into the mountains of Northern California to a place that was as remote as they could find within a day’s drive.
They found the place, a beautiful cabin on a windswept hill and had a great time – for the first six hours. They had planned to stay a week, but after two days they started talking about heading back early. The decision was made that night – a fierce storm hit about 2:30 AM that literally rocked the cabin. They didn’t get back to sleep and by seven the next morning they were all packed up and ready to drive back home.
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They only got sixty miles down the road. They were on narrow, winding mountain roads and discovered, when they rounded a curve, that a bridge had been swept away in the flooding from the storm. They turned around and went back to the last turn-off and tried that road. They got about five miles and found another bridge out. This time, when they turned around they stopped at the first house they came to. It was a farm house that looked over a hundred years old.
They drove up the long drive, stopped the car and got out. Going to the door Courteney knocked and rang the bell. Finally a white-haired, stern-looking woman came to the door. “Yes?” she asked questioningly.
The story about their trip and the storm and the bridges came tumbling out of their mouths. It was a little confusing, what with their Hollywood speech patterns and slang, but the woman got the gist of it. She invited them in and translated their predicament for her husband. He explained that those two bridges were the only way out of the area and they would have to wait until they’d been repaired.
“How long will that take?” Jennifer wailed.
“At least three or four days,” he replied.
“Oh, well, no one was expecting us back home before then anyway,” Courteney said with a fatalistic shrug. “Is there any motel or place to stay around here?”
“No, not really, but we’re planning to open a Bed and Breakfast here,” the old woman replied. “We aren’t quite ready for the grand opening, but we could put you up for a few days. It would be good practice for us and we’ll give you a good rate.”
“Oh, would you. Thank you!” Jennifer gushed. “This will be much better than that cabin stuck out in the middle of nowhere!”
They went out and got their suitcases and took them to the room they would use. The woman explained that they were still remodelling the other rooms and this was the only one available for them to use. There was one double bed, but the girls figured they could make the best of it for a few nights.
They were left alone for a while until they heard the woman calling for lunch. They went to the dining room and ate a delicious lunch of soup and sandwiches. Jennifer asked where the restroom was. The woman smiled and said, “the plumbing isn’t hooked up yet. You’ll have to use the outhouse in the back yard.” Jennifer’s eyes got wide when she heard that, but she walked out back. She returned in 25 seconds shuddering and holding her nose.
In the afternoon they napped and read and then took a short walk. They came back in and sat in the kitchen talking to the woman as she made supper. After supper they played some board games, talked and relaxed. They found out this family didn’t have a TV – that might be why they didn’t act like they recognized them, Courteney surmised.
The girls were about to go to bed when they asked the older couple about taking a bath or shower. The woman said there was a washtub in the kitchen and they would heat water on the stove. “What about washing our hair?” Jennifer asked.
“Oh, I did that for our six daughters when they were still at home. It’s been a while, but I expect I can still do it for you two.” She got up from her chair and looked at them, “Which one of you wants to go first?”
The girls looked at each other, a little hesitant, but they felt grubby and knew their hair didn’t look the best. They’d been in too much of a hurry when they left the cabin that morning and the traveling hadn’t improved anything. “I’ll go first,” Courteney said.
The woman heated water on the stove in several large pots. She had Courteney bend over the sink while she poured some water on her head to get her thick, dark hair all wet. Soon the hair was plastered to her head and water dripped off the ends. The woman squirted shampoo into her hand and began to massage it into her hair. Courteney relaxed as she felt the experienced fingers work around her scalp. It felt so good! The shampoo tingled slightly and the busy fingers stimulated the blood flow in her skin. Soon she felt a warm flood of rinse water being poured over her head. The woman lathered her up again and then rinsed it well before announcing she was done. Courteney took the towel the woman handed her and after patting at her hair she wrapped it around her head. She told Jennifer it was her turn then ran up the stairs to get ready for bed. She sat in front of a mirror and used her blow dryer to finish drying and styling it. When she got done she thought it looked pretty nice. She climbed into bed with a book to read.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Jennifer was getting the same treatment. Her hairstyle – the most well-known in the country – left her layered brown hair an inch or two below her shoulders. The overall effect was that distinctive “Rachel” shaggy look. It didn’t look all that great now since she hadn’t washed it for a couple of days. The woman sat her in a kitchen chair and combed it out, then brushed it vigorously for a few minutes. Jennifer stood at the sink and bent forward, flipping her hair up and forward over her head. After it was wetted down, the woman worked the shampoo into a lather, rinsing and doing it again just like with Courteney. While she did this, she talked about her daughters and all the times she had washed their hair while they were growing up. Her very experienced fingers massaged Jennifer’s scalp until it tingled with pleasure. She finished with the final rinse, gave her a towel and sent her off to bed with a little motherly hug. Jennifer went up, sat down at the vanity and dried her hair, styling it as it dried. “I don’t know if this will look like much in the morning, but it’s the best I can do,” she said as she put on her pajamas.
As soon as Jennifer had left the room the woman’s husband came in. “Look what they left in the living room.” He held up the copy of Rolling Stone on which was a full color picture of Jennifer in the buff. The woman’s eyes grew larger, then narrowed as a stern look came over her face.
“I thought those were two nice, wholesome girls.” she said. “We’ve sure been fooled. Their mother must be so ashamed of them! I know what I would do if our daughters ever had a picture like that put on some magazine.” The two went to bed, still fretting over how they had so misjudged the two girls.
The next morning Courteney woke up early. The sun was streaming in the windows and the birds were singing. She got up and stretched, careful not to wake Jennifer who liked to sleep late when she was on vacation. She scratched her head and looked in the mirror. Her hair was standing up a little from where she’d slept on it, but she ran a comb through it and it settled down. She walked down the steps scratching at her scalp without realizing it.
Walking in the kitchen she saw the woman, bustling around preparing to bake a coffee cake. Courteney said “Good morning,” and pulled out a chair to sit down. The woman poured her a cup of coffee and she sat and chatted about the nice weather. She kept digging at her scalp until she realized what she was doing and said, “Boy, my head really itches this morning!” She didn’t realize that her scalp was reacting to the minerals in the well-water along with the strong, home-made shampoo she wasn’t used to.
“Oh?” the woman said. “Here let me take a look.” She walked over behind Courteney and began to look at her head. She separated the hair and studied different areas of her scalp. She had an idea about how to teach these two promiscuous girls a lesson and which would render them unsuitable for any more risqué pictures for a long time. She went to a drawer and pulled out a very fine toothed, metal comb.
“What is it?” Courteney asked. “What’s making my head itch so much?” The woman drew the comb through Courteney’s hair several times and then held it under the bright overhead lamp. She nodded a couple of times and said, “Um-huh.”
“What is it?” Courteney asked again.
“This is something my girls had to deal with a few times, so I know very well what it is.” She paused and then added, “you have head lice.”
“WHAT?” Courteney shouted. “Where did I get that? Oh, probably from that old cabin we stayed in before we came here. What can I do?” She shuddered as she thought about little creepy crawly things in her hair. She felt so unclean.
“There is only one way to deal with head lice, Courteney,” the woman told her. “You won’t like it very much but the alternative is to let those critters stay there and have a picnic on your head.”
Predictably, Courteney reacted to that thought. “Tell me what to do. I’ll do anything to stop this awful itching.”
“The only thing that worked when my girls got head lice was to give them a haircut.”
That made Courteney pause in her scratching. “A haircut? Are you sure? Isn’t that a little extreme?”
“It’s the only way!” As she spoke she walked around the kitchen opening drawers and cupboards and pulled out items she would need. She walked over behind Courteney and draped a towel around her shoulders.
“Wait a minute,” Courteney said, “I haven’t agreed to this.”
“Well make up your mind in a hurry,” the woman said. “I can’t have unclean girls like you living in my house. Either we get rid of the headlice or. . .” That decided it for Courteney. She knew her hair would grow back eventually and she thought a short, gamin style might be cute on her.
“O.K.” she finally said and after gulping the rest of the coffee in front of her she sat back in the chair to wait for the inevitable. “Please be careful,” she added.
The woman started at the crown of her head, lifting the hair up and holding it between her left index and middle fingers. She held it tight and then placing the scissors on top of her fingers snipped off Courteney’s shiny, black hair. Using the width of her fingers as a guide she marched all around Coutney’s head leaving three-quarters of an inch of hair. Courteney looked at the towel, then her lap and the floor and saw a lot of beautiful severed waves discarded. She said, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“Oh, yes,” the woman replied, “I know what I’m doing all right.” Just as she was finishing up the final few snips her husband walked in. He took in at a glance what was happening.
“Looks like your giving her one of your trademark cuts, dear,” he said to her. “As usual, though, you’ve left it ragged and uneven. I’m just in time to smooth it all out.”
“You’re right as usual, sweetie,” she said to him. Then to Courteney, “I used to cut our daughters’ hair and make such a botch of it, their father had to go along after me and make it all even. I’d better let him finish you up.”
Before Courteney could respond to this new development he had taken his wife’s place. She felt his fingers massaging her scalp, rubbing the shortened hair. The next sensation, which took a little while to sink in, was a low humming sound. She wondered if it was the man humming some tuneless song. But then, the cold teeth of electric hair clippers touched the nape of her neck. She’d never felt them before but realization dawned. In the moment that it took for her to think that through he had made a swipe up the middle of the back of her head, leaving only a path of dark stubble behind. He pushed her head forward and took another swipe and then another.
“With head lice, you have to be sure you leave nothing for them to hide in or deposit their eggs. I’ll have you cleaned up in a jiffy, here,” he said with jubilant confidence. Then he did start humming to himself – it was enough to drive her batty.
Fortunately he was adept with the clippers – Courteney wondered how often his daughters had been forced to submit to this type of haircut. Maybe he secretly wished that his wife had given him a platoon of marines and that was his way of turning his daughters into the sons he wanted. She heard him say, “You know, since the two of your girls slept in that same bed last night, if one of you has head lice, the other one will also.”
Courteney was experiencing the brand new sensation of rubbing her hands over her very own freshly clippered head when Jennifer walked into the kitchen. “WHAT? Courteney, what have you done?” Jennifer cried. She reached up to her own hair and ran her fingers through it, then without realizing it she scratched her scalp.
“Oh, look,” Courteney said, “she must have them too.”
“Have what?” Jennifer said.
“Head lice,” the three chimed in together.
“No way!” Jennifer said and started backing away from them. The woman moved with surprising speed and agility. She grabbed Jennifer’s arm and pulled her over to sit in a chair at the table.
“Jennifer, we found out that Courteney had head lice. I can guarantee that since the two of you slept in the same bed last night that you have head lice also. The only way to deal with it is to get your hair cut.” “No way! I’m not letting you butcher my hair like Courteney’s. I’m Rachel, you can’t touch my hair!”
“I thought your name was Jennifer, how come you now say you are Rachel?” The girls tried to explain it to her, but she pretended she didn’t understand. “It doesn’t matter, Jennifer or Rachel, you are going to get your hair cut even if we have to tie you in the chair!”
With that she settled down somewhat, knowing it was useless to fight. The woman started, as with Courteney and scissored off the famous hair, leaving less than half an inch. It took a while, once the larger lengths were severed, she kept going over and over her head, holding up little pieces of hair and chopping them off close to her scalp. Finally she said, “O.K., father, it’s your turn to finish this up.” The man cheerfully took his place behind Jennifer and the clippers came alive with a snap. Jennifer jumped when she heard the sound and then again when the cold steel teeth first touched her forehead.
There was no artistry involved, just straight business. He started at her forehead and buzzed a path back through the top of her head. Little brunette hairs were flying all over and he made pass after pass, shearing off the most famous hair in the land. He worked down the right side and around her ears, then the left and then pushed her head forward so he could clear off the back. When it was reduced to a military style “knob” cut he turned off the clippers and stepped back.
The two girls walked to a mirror together and with their arms around each other looked at the same time – and at the same time let out a shriek. They collapsed into each other’s arms sobbing. After a few minutes they looked again and then reached up and rubbed their heads then touched each others. They calmed down as they got used to the new look.
“Well this will cut down the time it takes to get ready in the morning,” Courteney laughed weakly and attempted to smile.
“It will grow out,” Jennifer said.
Three days later one of the bridges was repaired enough for them to leave. They got out of there as fast as they could, vowing never to return!