The Will – Ann Sully
We all came home 1 month after our mother had passed away. Today was the day the lawyer was to read the will. It was a cold Friday in October. I and my two other sisters were at the right side of the table, with my two Aunts on the other side. The lawyer spoke for about 30 minutes on what the will meant and how the assets were to be handled and all the legal stuff to go with it.
The first person was my sister Carrie. She was given 250,000 in cash and was to keep the membership at the Women’s lodge. In order to keep the money she needed to keep the membership.
The second person was my sister Judy. She was to continue the work my mother started with the Special Olympics. She also was awarded 250,000 in cash, but again to receive the cash she needed to stay involved with the Special Olympics.
The final person was me. I was also awarded 250,000 in cash, but my commitment was to keep my mother’s 8:00 Saturday morning hair appointment at Dottie’s. I thought this was weird, but from the looks from everyone else it seemed to fit right into what was going on.
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The lawyer ended the reading of the will, and as I was walking out the door of the office, my Aunt Beth came up to me and said, “You know Diane, the standing appointment at Dottie’s has been with the family since 1955, I hope you understand the importance.” I really did not know the importance but assured my Aunt that tomorrow at 8:00 am I would show up.
The next morning came, I stayed at my sister’s house even though I lived only 25 miles away. I put on a sweatshirt and pants, put my hair in a ponytail and went off to Dottie’s. I got there at around 7:55. I walked in and this place was busy, all of the older women in the town were all sitting around talking and getting their hair done. I walked over to an empty seat and as I was about to sit down, Dottie came over and said hi to me. Dottie then said, “I’m glad you came, let’s go and wash your hair.” I walked over with Dottie to the back of the shop. I sat by the shampoo bowl and Dottie took my ponytail out. My hair, which was about shoulder length and a very thick bob look, just fell into place. She placed my head into the bowl, asked me about work and just the small-talk stuff. After I was shampooed we walked to Dottie’s station. Dottie mentioned that this was the first time since my Mom passed away that this chair was being occupied on a Saturday.
Dottie combed my hair out. She mentioned how thick and what good condition it was. I thanked her and just sat back and enjoyed the pampered treatment I was getting. After about 5 minutes Dottie began to clip up my hair. As she was doing this she said that my hairline was different than my Mom’s, but our ears were the same. My heart sank to the ground when she said that the perm would be a challenge with my thick hair, but she did not see a problem. At this point I just said to Dottie, “What perm, who said anything about a perm?”
Dottie just paused, looked at me and said, “Diane, since 1960 when your Grandmother came here there has been a tradition in your family. Your Grandmother came here every Saturday, in the first of the month she got a perm and a cut, on the other Saturdays we did upkeeps on the perm and cut.” Dottie continued to say, “After your Grandmother passed away in 1985 your Mom took over the tradition, she felt very strong in keeping the tradition going, and now she has chosen you.” I was shocked, and honored, I guess.
There was silence for about 30 seconds, then something hit me like a ton of bricks. I turned to Dottie and said, “But my Mom wore her hair very short and tightly permed.”
Dottie just looked at me and smiled, and then said, “Shall we begin?”
“No,” I said. “I like my hair, plus I’m 28 years old, I can’t look like a short-haired poodle for the rest of my life.”
Dottie just looked at me and said, “Your Mom wanted you to continue this tradition.” I did not say another word, Dottie knew from my silence that I had given her permission to start the transformation, that would change my life forever. The look I was about to get was the hairstyle I would now have for the rest of my life.
Dottie started in the back. She cut the back, then cut the sides over the ears. There was all my thick hair laying all over. After the cut was done she pulled up this cart with all of these pink rollers and clips. One by one the rods were put in, my ego and self-worth now at zero. How was I going to explain my new style at work? What would people say, I was going to be the laughing stock. Finally the last rods where put in, I was taken to a side chair so the lotion would settle. As I was sitting down Dottie said today would be the only appointment where it would take this long.
I came back to the station chair about 30 minutes later. Dottie started to take the rods out, reality had set in. These mass curls no bigger than pencil width in size had taken over my hair on top, my bangs had been permed back so my forehead was completely exposed, my ears were now exposed and I no longer saw hair behind me or on my shoulders.
Dottie blow-dried my hair, it was about 3-4 inches in length at the top and about 1- 1 1/2 on the sides. It looked terrible in my eyes. After Dottie got done blow-drying she took the cape off and shook it out, and then put it back on. I thought I was done but I knew there was more when Dottie started running her fingers through my hair and said, “Now let’s tighten this up.” At that point she picked up a huge comb, and a pair of these huge black clippers and started clipping away at the top of my head, This mass of curls was now becoming this mass of perfectly uniformed curls on my head. After she was done she ran her fingers through the top and each ringlet bounced right into place. She then lifted the chair up, put my chin to my chest and ran the clippers up my neck. I thought my hair was short until I saw clumps of hair falling from behind me. I could tell the bottom of my hair was short at the hairline, there was a burning sensation. Then when she ran her finger through my nape and nothing moved, I knew it was short. The sides were next, she gave me these little pointed sideburns, she said it would highlight the style around the ears. My hair was cut high above my ears, I could actually see skin between my ears and hairline around the ear.
It was finally over. Dottie gave me a mirror to look at the back. I just lost my breath when I saw the back of my head, clipper cut short and tapered to the ringlets on top.
When I got up all the women in the shop were looking at me, they all just smiled because they knew I was now one of them. I felt the back of my hair again, walked over to the front counter and pulled out my wallet. Dottie said, “On me.” As I was walking out the door, I just turned and said to Dottie, “See you next week.” It was windy outside, but who cares? My poodle cut does not move.