Whose hair is costing you money? – The Weakest Link (pt2) by Cliptomaniac
Five years time, and pseudo-scientists “prove” that long hair diminishes intelligence by drawing energy from the head. This becomes the inspiration for a cruel twist to a well known game show, now in the United States
The music came to a halt at the end of yet another unimpressive round and the five remaining beautiful, long-haired girls waited wide-eyed for Anne Robinson’s verdict.
“In that round you banked a paltry 8,000 dollars. Who’s about as much use as a chocolate teapot? Who’s spent too much time brushing out tangles and not enough brushing up on general knowledge? Who’s better suited to a fashion show than a quiz show? One of you is about to get a haircut. It’s time to vote off the weakest link.”
Angelina knew her silky brunette locks were safe for now. She’d answered all the questions right in that round and the other contestants showed no signs of tactical voting – yet. Her hand shaking, she scribbled the name Louisa on her pad, Louisa having broken a chain of three correct answers.
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“Time is up. It’s time to find out who YOU thought was the weakest link.”
The contestants lighted up their choices and read out the names. Everyone else voted for Louisa and Louisa voted for Emmylou, the feisty red-haired Texan.
“Tracy”, enquired Anne, turning her bespectacled scowl on the gorgeous blonde from Florida. “Enlighten us as to what you do again.”
“I’m a legal secretary”
“A LEGAL SECRETARY, my goodness! And not just any old legal secretary but one who thinks that Buffalo begins with a D”
“I thought you said B, Anne.”
“Oh so it’s my fault is it? I’d better hire a defence attorney straight away. Mind you, being in the legal profession you could probably prove that Buffalo begins with a D. Anyway, why Louisa?”
“I thought she cost us some money.”
“Mmm, she did cost you money, $10,000 in fact. Do you make mistakes like that in your job as an accountant, Louisa?” She turned to Louisa whose mass of black hair was piled on top of her head in an exquisite updo.
“No, Anne, we get everything right to the nearest cent,” replied Louisa, as confidently as she could in the circumstances.
“Yes, well you can put $10,000 and zero cents in your debit column. What went wrong?”
“I guess my thinking cap must have fallen off, Anne.”
“Well with your hairdo, I’m not surprised. Never mind, it can soon be remedied. The barber awaits. With four votes, your hair is the weakest link, goodbye.”
Louisa, still maintaining an aura of confidence, walked from the podium, casting a sideways look at Anne as she went. She walked towards the barber’s chair and took one of the three remaining envelopes from the table, which she then handed to the waiting barber.
The barber opened the envelope. “Flat top!” he declared.
Louisa’s composure changed. “But I’m an accountant!” she protested.
“I hear the army are recruiting accountants,” replied Anne dryly, to the amusement of the audience.
The barber removed the pins that held Louisa’s updo in place and the mass of her hair fell down right to her backside to gasps from the audience. He then requested that Louisa sat down, which she did, her face still full of stormy resentment.
The barber then held a large strand of Louisa’s hair up and with a mighty schnick from his large scissors, to an assortment of noises from the audience, he cut it an inch from the scalp. He hastily and indiscriminately hacked off the rest of the bulk before going in at the sides with the clippers as Louisa sat stony faced. Once a rough cut was done, Louisa was led backstage to have her haircut finished while the show continued.
“Right!” went on Anne, “you can no longer count on the accountant but the good news is you’ve still got Tracy, the legal secretary who thinks that Buffalo begins with a D. We’re taking ten seconds off the time, let’s play THE WEAKEST LINK! Start the clock.”
The round seemed to go very fast for Angelina. She got her first question wrong but improved later and banked a fair deal of money. She noticed that Tracy was getting a lot of questions wrong. When the music started winding up Anne turned to Angelina for the last time.
“Angelina, what’s the state capital of California?”
“Sacramento.” It just came out and it was the right answer. Yes!
Joanne, the raven haired beauty from North Dakota banked the money before getting her question wrong and the round ended and Anne came out with her usual spiel.
“In that round you improved slightly, banking 19,000 dollars, but whose long hair is a decoration you can no longer afford? Who’s got more split ends than brain cells? Who puts more effort into their bangs than their banking? It’s time to trim the tresses, hack off the hair, lop off the locks! It’s time to vote off the weakest link.”
Angelina wrote down Tracy’s name on her pad. She felt dismayed that Tracy would probably have to lose her beautiful golden mane, but she really had had a terrible round and was getting to be a bit of a liability to the team. Anne then instructed the contestants to reveal their choices. All had voted for Tracy except Tracy who voted for Joanne. Angelina soon got the feeling that Anne was eyeing her.
“Angelina, how’s it going for you?”
“Pretty well, Anne”
“Pretty well. hmm. And you were pretty well sure that Chablis came from Canada.”
“It was the only question I got wrong.”
“There’ll be others. Why Tracy?”
“I felt she really cracked in that round but I really feel bad about voting her off. Please be sparing with her hair.”
“We decide the haircuts here Angelina,” Anne scolded before turning to Emmylou. “Emmylou. History. Popular Culture. Geography. Politics. Your lack of knowledge never ceases to amaze me.”
“And your rudeness never ceases to amaze me, ma’am.”
“Emmylou, when you applied for this show was it pointed out to you that this wasn’t Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
“Yes it was, but ah’m not in no mood to be patronised bah some stuck up limey. You there, you think ya red hot shit, but in fact ya two cold poops on a paper plate!”
The crowd roared with laughter, then applause, to see someone biting back at Anne. Anne remained emotionless and composed as the applause died down.
“What repartee. A pity you didn’t rehearse your general knowledge as well as your banter. Why did you vote for Tracy?”
“Well ah’m sorry Tracy, but you just ain’t got what it takes gal. Sho’ hope they don’t cut too much off.”
“Thankyou Emmylou, I’m sure that makes it perfectly clear,” said Anne sarcastically before turning to the condemned contestant.
“It seems the proverbial dumb blonde is here in person. If it’s not too much of a strain, can you explain your failure to answer the majority of your questions?”
“I haven’t really been comfortable since the second round, Anne,” squeaked Tracy.
“Not comfortable, that’s a strange way of putting it. I’d just say you were pretty useless. But never mind, I’m sure you’ll be comfortable in our barber’s chair. With three votes, Tracy, the legal secretary from Florida, your hair is the weakest link. Goodbye!”
Tracy did the walk of shame, her head not held as high as the previous contestant and her waist length golden hair shimmered in the studio lights for the last time.
“Mia Farrow,” the barber announced as she handed him her chosen envelope. Tracy tried hard to look emotionless as he hacked huge hanks of her hair off. Even though they were not necessary, the barber then made a point of using clippers with a comb to even out the hair at roughtly one inch all over. Tracy was then led away for her haircut to be fine-tuned with a look on her face that suggested she had expected worse.
The last round ensued and though it was awful in general, Angelina at least got 2 questions right. Emmylou performed appallingly, getting no questions right and losing money, so they all ended up with nothing. Angelina pretty much knew that Joanne would join her in voting off Emmylou and rejoiced as she knew that at least her own beautiful brunette hair was safe. Now she just had to worry about winning the money. As can be imagined, Anne was not full of praise.
“Well, for once I’m lost for words. In that round you banked absolutely NOTHING. ZERO. ZILCH! Who’s responsible for this PITIFUL performance? Who is overburdened with hair and underblessed with talent? Who needs to be WOKEN UP by the hum of the clippers? It’s time to vote off the weakest link.”
As expected Emmylou received the two votes and herself voted for Joanne. The votes given, Anne turned to Joanne.
“Joanne. One question right. Bet you’re glad there was someone even more rubbish than you in that round.”
“Well we were all rubbish, Anne”
“Hmm, but Angelina wasn’t quite as rubbish as you. Did you think Emmylou was the rubbishiest of all of you?”
“Yes I did Anne.”
“So you managed to get that right.” Anne turned to Angelina. “Angelina, tell me how you came to the conclusion that Barcelona was in Argentina.”
“I’m afraid my geography’s not very good, Anne.”
“No, it’s a wonder you found your way to the studio. Why Emmylou, who for your benefit is standing three to the right of you?”
“Well, she lost a lot of money and I don’t think she answered any questions right. Besides we don’t want anyone being rude to you Anne.”
“Oh she can be rude as she likes now.” Anne turned to Emmylou with a wry smile.
“Well Emmylou, it’s been a pleasure meeting you. Shame we couldn’t get to know each other better…”
“I came on here purely for the money – not to meet you, ma’am.”
“Well, Emmylou , if money is your motive the bad news is you leave with nothing. The good news is you’ll soon be saving plenty of money on shampoo. With two votes, your hair is the weakest link. G’bye.”
Emmylou swaggered away from the podium, giving Anne a dagger which the waspish host ignored. She took the last remaining envelope and handed it confidently to the barber.
“Number 2 crewcut with bangs,” announced the barber.
“Huh! That’s nothing!” trumped Emmylou. “Ah don’t ceer if ya shave mah heed!” and plumped herself down arrogantly in the barber’s chair, only to turn her head when she heard a clipped English accent.
“Actually, barber, can we change the haircut?” It was Anne.
“What will it be Anne?” enquired the barber.
“Well, seeing as she has red hair and she’s such a big fan of me, perhaps you could give her an “Anne Robinson” haircut?”
“You can’t do that! Ah don’ wanna look like you!” protested Emmylou fiercely as the audience roared with laughter.
“This is my show, I’ll do what I like,” replied Anne, revelling at her revenge for Emmylou’s earlier outburst. “Now, barber, get cutting and if the props guys can find some round glasses for Emmylou that will be just perfect.”
The barber was soon hacking away at the furious Emmylou’s hair and turning her into an “AnneRobinsonalike” Emmylou continued protesting and vowed to buzz her hair the minute she got away from the studios.
The show went on. Joanne and Angelina did their last round as a team and banked an impressive 16,000 dollars. Angelina felt confident, relieved that her hair was safe and hoping that she could now scoop the prize. Oh, if only – all those debts she had to pay since her boyfriend had left her. It was high time that something good happened in her life. All that stood in her way were five questions – and Joanne.
“Right! We’ll double the total prize money in that round to give total prize money today of 147,000 dollars. But only one of you can take it away. The strongest link in the last round gets to choose the order of play – that’s Joanne. Joanne would you like to go second or first…”
“I’ll go second.”
Angelina was glad to be put in first. She knew that every correct answer she had would put pressure on Joanne. Oh, just to get past those first few questions. Oh, all the things she could do with that money – pay off the debts, have a lovely holiday, new car….
“….let’s play THE WEAKEST LINK!” Angelina was shocked back into reality as Anne started the final round and aimed the first question:
“Angelina. The folk duo Simon and Garfunkel originally named themselves after which cartoon characters?”
A good start. She knew this.
“Tom and Jerry.”
“That is the correct answer.” Anne turned to Joanne. “Joanne, who was the Soviet leader at the time of the Cuban missile crisis?”
“Leonid Brezhnev,” said Joanne confidently.
“Nope. It was Nikita Khruschev.” Angelina was ecstatic as Joanne’s face betrayed her disappointment.
Both girls got their next questions right so it was now 2-1 to Angelina after two questions.
“Angelina,” continued Anne, “What is the name for a precious or semi-precious gemstone carved with decoration?”
Angelina thought she knew this, but only vaguely. “Is it alabaster?” she said.
“Nope, it’s cameo.” Angelina really hadn’t known this so couldn’t regret getting it wrong. But now Joanne threatened.
“Joanne, to draw level. What is the name for the state of being unmarried with abstinence from sexual activity?” Again Angelina knew this one. Damn!
“Celibacy?” Joanne didn’t sound sure but Angelina, with a heavy heart knew she was right.
“That is the correct answer. You are now level pegging,” continued Anne. “Angelina, what is the name of the National Park in Saskatchewan, Canada established in 1927?”
Angelina was clueless. Why did she get all the questions she didn’t know? Her mind, desperately grasping for an answer didn’t even come up with an intelligent guess.
“Bigfoot National Park?”
“The correct answer is Prince Albert National Park,” admonished Anne, her face inscrutable while Joanne nearby let out a barely concealed snigger. She was still trying to keep a straight face when Anne turned to her.
“Which British singer recorded the albums Scary Monsters and Heroes?”
Angelina knew this one as well and was dismayed to see Joanne’s face light up and the answer come flooding out without hesitation.
“That is the correct answer. Angelina, you need to answer this question correctly to stay in the game.”
Angelina felt a sense of despair. From being ahead she was now on the verge of losing the money that would have again made her life bearable, while the well heeled lady to her right looked set to walk away even richer and smugger than she already was. Oh, if only she could get this question right.
“So Angelina, the red wine from which French region is often referred to as claret?”
Another darned wine/geography question. Angelina knew there were two possible options. Bordeaux or Beaujolais. Was Beaujolais a region? She was sure it was red wine. Bordeaux sounded too obvious. She pondered over what was possibly the biggest question in her life. Her brain came up with no answers. In the end, racked with her own indecision she tossed a mental coin and it landed with the answer Beaujolais.
“Nope, sorry. It’s Bordeaux.”
Tears pricked Angelina’s eyes as Anne pronounced the brutal truth.
“Joanne, you are today’s strongest link and you leave with $147,000. Angelina, you leave with NOTHING”
A grim reflection of her life as a whole, thought Angelina, expecting Anne to turn and say goodbye but Anne continued talking.
“However, in an unprecedented move, because Joanne feels PITY for the loser she has offered her vanquished opponent one fifth of the prize money should she win… Angelina, that’s $29,400.”
Angelina could hardly believe it. That would be enough at least to pay off her debts and perhaps get away from it for a while too. She looked at Joanne as if to assure herself it was true and Joanne smiled back knowingly.
“BUT,” said Anne, “there is a condition attached to this unprecedented move.” She produced an envelope from her black leather jacket. “In order to take away the money, the defeated party must agree to undergo the haircut contained in this envelope and the haircut will be administered by Joanne.” The crowd started to look excited. They were beginning to understand Joanne’s motives, but Angelina, too excited about the money, didn’t even stop to ask herself if Joanne had any hairdressing credentials.
“So Joanne, for $29,400, are you willing to have the haircut? Your answer is final.”
“Yes, of course!”
“Ok then, for $29,400,” said Anne opening the envelope. Her usually dour face became suddenly animated when she saw the contents. “Well, I never,” she said, “for the first time ever on the Weakest Link we’re going to see a girl shaved COMPLETELY BALD. Angelina, the chair awaits!”
The audience roared. There had been rumours of a full headshave and many of them had come to the show in the hope of seeing just that.
The sound turned Angelina’s stomach over. A large part of her forgot that she was about to gain a small fortune and just felt wistful about the imminent loss of her beautiful brunette hair. It seemed a million years since the relief she felt about making it past the last vote-off. It was all too suddenly clear to her that Joanne’s “charity” was more down to her wanting to humiliate her loser. She cast an accusing look at Joanne, but Joanne just waved the clippers around in readiness as the resident barber gave her tips on how to make a clean cut. Anne stood, her arms folded, quietly pleased that this new twist might boost the show’s flailing ratings.
To applause and whooping from the audience who had been so quiet throughout the show, Angelina advanced towards the chair. She tried to think of the good things she could do with the money, but the joy of winning it had been tainted by the fact she had been tricked. A TV engineer was pointing to his watch indicating that there wasn’t much time left to broadcast.
“No fancy stuff. Straight down the middle. No guard.”
So that was the price Angelina would pay for just going away with the consolation prize. That was the fate of the hair that she had tended for so many years and had been loved by so many. A cape was placed over her, she felt the rough hands of Joanne manipulating her head and the clippers flying in like a F1-11 bomber, then the heartbreaking roar as the crowd revelled in the sight of her silky brunette hair dropping in prodigious quantities to the cape, ever increasing patches of virtually bare skin appearing on her scalp. She knew this would make her famous, that she would be interviewed on many other shows now and make more money too.
The initial buzz was done at lightning speed and as Angelina felt the skin and the long rasping fingernails of Joanne, then the brush, then the cold shaving cream on her naked glinting pate, and saw her Pantene-smelling mane lying lifeless on the cape she sought consolation in the fact that not only would this make her rich but it would break the heart of the cheating boyfriend who had so often kissed and stroked her soft, girly locks.
Cliptomaniac – I don’t need the hair – it’s just the thrill of the shave!