The Beauty Salon – By Stephen Edward Taylor
Chris’s grandfather had been adamant all those years ago. “Real men don’t carry umbrellas, and don’t use hair dryers, ”the retired Sergeant-Major had said. Chris was certain that his grandfather would believe that real men did not color their hair. Chris’ older sister colored her hair and his grandmother had colored her hair a purplish red right up to the end. Only women dyed their hair.
His scalp burned and his eyes watered. The pretty young stylist’s firm breasts pushed up tightly against her pink t-shirt, just six inches from his face, as she earnestly brushed the color solution into his 46 year-old salt and peppered hair. The reek of ammonia stung his sinuses. “Beauty has its price,” she teased as she pulled the tight rubber cap over his scalp and released it with a snap. Panic began to set in as he imagined the pending stroke from the restricted blood flow to his brain. “That’s what he gets for coloring his hair,” the male paramedics would remark as they removed his blue body from the beauty salon. Death by stroke was what happened to men that defied the wisdom of their grandfathers.
Reading People magazine under the hair dryer, the hot air burned the back of Chris’ neck as it set the color solution in his hair. He wondered how much all this beauty was going to cost him and he could already hear the guys at the office ribbing him about his new look. They would be brutal. When forty-something Ned Handy had shown up to work a while back with freshly colored hair, bald-headed Tom Beamish had chided. “What color is that, Ned? Ginger?” Chris felt a twinge of guilt, as he remembered his complicity in dubbing Ned the ‘Gingah Ningah.’ He had some serious payback due from Ned Handy tomorrow morning.
Tom would be relentless, but he already had a biting comeback prepared for Tom’s dig. “Oh look,” Chris would say, “A bald guy is busting my balls about my hair. Nice clown-ring Tom!” he would retort. What did the young guys at work know about being middle-aged anyways? What did they know about looking into the mirror and seeing your father looking back at you in the glass?
Chris smiled as he caught a glimpse at his new and improved self in the mirror for the first time. He watched the pretty stylist as she worked some gel into his brown hair. Without gray hair he really did look younger, thought Chris. Maybe this was worth the pending heckling of his co-workers after all. He popped his umbrella as he walked out into the rainy street. Perhaps the Sergeant Major would have looked much better in life with colored hair.