Walking To Jenny’s House


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I’ll set the scene quickly, then get down to business. It’s the year 1966, and being a 1950 model I have now achieved the unenviable age of sixteen. Hormonal chaos reigns. Girls are mysterious and unpredictable creatures, the pirate radio stations are thriving, and despite the mop-haired Beatles being in the charts, that commodity called Brylcreem is still in fairly widespread use. I mention this because it’s a key component of my story.

I fall in love with just about every girl I see, and being the Shy Guy, that’s as far as it ever goes. Talk to a girl? You have to be joking, they come from a different planet and speak a different language. My current worship-from-afar concerns a girl called Jennifer Shepherd who goes to the same church as I do. Oh, beautiful Jenny, the pedestal belongs to you and to you alone. She has large expressive brown eyes and the most wonderful long chestnut hair, parted in the centre with a fringe. There is something about the fringe that frames and enhances her already very striking eyes. Has she got a boyfriend? I don’t think she has. Or to be honest I just don’t know, which I suppose is a case of ignorance being bliss.   

On Easter Sunday Jenny turns up at church with a new hairstyle, and there could be no clearer indication that she is poised on that cusp between childhood and womanhood. Omigod. Her chestnut hair is glossy with conditioner, and where it formerly hung some way past her shoulders it has been trimmed back and permed into an outward curl at the ends. The cupped curls are remarkably precise and coherent, they hang just clear of her shoulders and bounce gently when she moves. Something about the shape, texture and motion of Jenny’s hair is completely magical, she looks like a model on a magazine cover, a walking advertisement for hair care products, a photo in a hairdresser’s shop window. She is completely stunning and I am smitten, I can hardly take my eyes off her.

Comments are overheard, and much to my surprise they are not all favourable. I hear two elderly women nearby exchanging views:

“Look at Jennifer’s hair, isn’t she lovely!”

“She looks ridiculous, she’s far too young to have a hairdo.”

“Oh, but she’s got just the right kind of hair for a flip style like that.”

“Who does she think she is, Jackie Kennedy or something?”

“She can’t help being pretty, she’s got lovely hair, it deserves to be styled.”

“Teenage girls have no cause to be pretty, hairdos are for adults”

Oh dear, stop your bitching and leave Jenny alone, I think to myself. The second woman seems to be denying Jenny the right to be good-looking at all, never mind have a hairdo. I bet she’s just a bitter old thing who can’t bear to see a younger woman looking attractive. I thought churchgoers were charitable and full of respect for their neighbours?

Any philosophical musing on the question of human relationships is banished abruptly after the service, when I notice a boy who I know slightly from school. He’s called Paul and I’ve never seen him at our church before. While he’s in my school year, he’s not a particular friend, and although he’s far from being part of the school ‘in-crowd’ I suspect he has more confidence than I do. Not a difficult thing to achieve! To my horror, my unspeakable slap-in-the face horror, he’s talking to Jenny and I am immediately green with jealousy. What makes it worse is that Paul is also, evidently, a recent haircut victim as his brown hair is gleaming with Brylcreem and combed back from his forehead in the barbershop style of the time. It’s quite obvious that Paul is complimenting Jenny on her hair, you can tell, although I can’t hear what’s being said. Maybe just as well. She appears to return the compliment, because Paul reaches up to touch his hair, then says something that makes Jenny laugh. Her shiny hair bounces as she laughs, and she reaches up and pats her curls self-consciously with both hands. I can’t usually lip-read, but clear as anything I know she has said :

“Mummy says I mustn’t spoil my hair.”

It’s some small comfort to me that Jenny and Paul don’t leave the church together. Phew! But I fear, on the strength of today’s performance, that Paul just might make a miraculous conversion from church newcomer to a devout regular. On the way out I notice him combing his Brylcreemed hair rather ostentatiously, reflected in one of the windows in the foyer. Narcissistic little creep! I wonder if that’s for Jenny’s benefit? New hairdos all round, I think cynically. Maybe it’s time I joined the club.

                                        ———————————————–

The Shepherd family, good church people all, are arranging the church jumble sale. We have a carrier bag full of well-worn paperback books to donate, and a day or two after the hairdo incident my father makes the suggestion that I might like to pop round to the Shepherd’s house with the books. In fact, he suggests with his customary dry wit, that as my hair is getting a bit long and the end of the Easter school break is approaching, I could kill two birds with one stone by taking the books to the Shepherds’ house and having my hair cut on the way. So as not to waste your valuable teenage time, you see.

The point is that the Shepherds’ house and my usual barber’s shop are in much the same part of town. While the suggestion that the two chores could usefully be combined is my father’s idea of a joke, it forms the germ of an idea. If Jenny was impressed by Paul’s newly cut and Brylcreemed hair, how might she react to seeing me, fresh from the same treatment? The delivery of the books provides a perfect opportunity to test this, and possibly get to know Jenny a bit better as well.

There are numerous holes in this potential plan, so let’s think about it carefully. There is no guarantee that Jenny was genuinely impressed by Paul’s hair in the first place, and to be honest I have always held the belief that Brylcreem is something women and girls don’t like. Might turning up on Jenny’s doorstep with my hair creamed to perfection do more harm than good? Is it possible that complimenting Paul on his hair wasn’t a sign of approval at all, it was just Jenny’s polite response to the compliment she had just received from him?

A more alarming possibility is that, regardless of hairdo and Brylcreem, Jenny and Paul have always liked the look of each other and the ‘hairdo incident’ could prove to be the trigger for a relationship waiting to happen. Okay, Paul’s a newcomer to the church, but they could still know each other from all sorts of other activities. Are they neighbours maybe? As the appalling possibility of a relationship between Jenny and Paul takes form in my head, the angst kicks in big-time and my teenage self-pity goes into overdrive. Any self-esteem I once had plummets to that of an earthworm. Poor me, there has to be a better way, I need to engineer something to attract Jenny’s attention. Push the boat out, shake the tree, take a giant step. Are you a man or a shirt button, I ask myself. And the answer comes back, the same as it always does; you’re a shirt button, kiddo. Just face the fact!

Returning to the topic of my proposed visit to the Shepherds’ house, and not before time I hear you say, one complication I have to accept is that the door will not necessarily be opened by Jenny. It might be opened by either of her parents, or by her extremely cheeky twelve-year-old brother who I think is called Michael. Or there might be nobody home at all! Compared with me giving up and doing nothing, however, these flaws in the plan fade into insignificance. I shall present myself at the Shepherd residence with the books for the sale, and trust to luck. And I will do it after having my hair cut, I am resolved. Cut and Brylcreemed, no less. At least they can’t accuse me of not looking smart.

Thinking this through in endless and agonising detail, I find that my wish to equal or even outdo Paul in the Brylcreem stakes is becoming the dominant factor in the proposed adventure. The risk of Jenny not liking it, if indeed I get to see her at all, is receding into the background. What if she thinks I’ve deliberately turned myself into a pale imitation of Paul for the purpose of impressing her? Again, that’s just too bad and I ignore it. Jenny is the prize, and is worth that risk. I need to do something to get ahead of Paul, by fair means or foul, and the timing is right for me to ‘join the new hairdo club’ as I put it to myself the other day.

How tangled are the webs we weave, goes the saying. I’m perfectly aware, even through the blinding fog of my jealousy, that Paul and Jenny might well have nothing going on at all. Even potentially. But that possibility, attractive though it may be,  is too precarious to be relied upon.

When I saw Paul combing his hair in the church foyer last Sunday I called him, in my imagination, a narcissistic little creep. Viscious! That description could never be applied to me, of course, even though I’m quite capable of enjoying Brylcreem in my own way. When the barber puts it on I enjoy the feel and the look, but I would certainly think twice before combing my hair in that public and exhibitionist way that some kids (Paul, for example) seem to revel in. Oh dear, I’m sure he’s not a bad lad but I can feel Paul the Brylcreem Kid becoming my nemesis, as Bluto is to Popeye, as The Mekon is to Dan Dare, as the Daleks are to Doctor Who, you get my drift. And it’s not a good feeling, it’s not a good feeling at all. This is my first real encounter with the corrosive sting of sexual jealousy, and it hurts. It hurts baaaad.

Let’s think positively. If I’m going to play this game effectively I need to take a bold step, and that step is to get some extra Brylcreem onto my hair after the barber has done it, but before seeing Jenny. That seems like a good idea but is fraught with problems. What’s to stop me from just asking the barber to put extra cream on? There are plenty of barriers to that, and the worst is simply my lack of nerve. That being so, I need to buy a small jar of cream after my hair is cut, and somehow slap it on and do my hair while I’m in transit to Jenny’s house. It must look as if the barber is responsible for the excess, that’s my get-out, and if Jenny doesn’t like it after all I can blame the barber and there’s no harm done.

Why not go home to do your hair, I hear you ask, but there are good reasons why that’s out of the question as well. To go home would destroy the original excuse for the adventure, which is of course, combining the haircut with the trip to the Shepherds’ house with the books. Also, I have to admit that I’m shy in front of my parents with cream on my hair, and the idea of blatantly going to the bathroom to put on a load more cream is just not an option. My father will be at work, but my mother will be at home. My problem is not that she will simply disapprove, or say in a puzzled tone “I thought you were going straight to the Shepherds’ house?” No, my problem is a deep sense of taboo that says I can’t let my mother see me, at all, with my hair done the way I intend.

All in all, the fact that I’m playing a game that involves grown-up things like girls and Brylcreem needs to be kept as completely ‘under wraps’ as possible. What will happen when I get home after delivering the books? That’s an important point and I think I’ve got it figured out. Whatever the outcome of the visit as regards contact with Jenny, I should be able to declare ‘mission accomplished’ as far as my hair is concerned. I will go straight upstairs to the bathroom and wash the cream off, and if I’m seen in transit I will mutter to the audience “yeeugh, it feels like the barber put a whole jar on”. Convincing? I like to think so, and that’s the plan.

                                  ——————————————————

I still have to address the problem of getting the extra stuff onto my hair somewhere between the barber’s shop and Jenny’s house. It’s a problem alright, because I can hardly do it in the street. What’s needed is a mirror, obviously, and ten minutes of privacy. The privacy is important because the job will require a degree of care, it can’t be done in a hurry, remember my hair must look as if it’s just been creamed and combed by the barber, not by me. No dabs of cream on my shirt collar or behind my ears!

My main concern is to avoid lingering publicly in front of the mirror in a gents’ toilet or washroom. No way will I do that. What I’m bothered about here is not so much the risk of someone taking a fancy to me, although I admit it’s a possibility. Especially with a  jar of Brylcreem at my elbow, which for all I know might carry a coded message like a masonic handshake. No, what’s worrying me is a thing that I dread in any circumstances, and that’s the kid who puts his fists into gear first and his brain second. We’ve all met him, haven’t we. He’s the dickhead who can’t walk down the street without trying to start a fight, and I can just imagine the scene as I peacefully try to put my hair into shape. I hear a wolf-whistle and then a shout:

“Awwww, look at the Brylcreem Boy, isn’t he gorgeous, what are you son, a fucking QUEER or something?”

The next thing I know the fists are flying, and all my daydreams of love and beauty are exchanged for a bloody nose and a thump in the midriff. No, the public place is out, not an option at all.      

Inspiration suddenly strikes. The washroom at school! The school is closed for the Easter break, and strictly it’s off-limits, but I know building work has been going on so the doors will not be locked. If challenged I can say I came in to get a book. The school, as luck will have it, is not a great distance from the barber’s shop, although it will then mean a longer walk to get from the school to Jenny’s house. A plan is slowly falling into shape.

                            ————————————————————–

On the Thursday, and it’s 14th April 1966 for those of you who love that kind of detail, I leave home immediately after lunch carrying the bag of books. The plan is clear in my head. Straight to the barber’s shop I go, the first afternoon customer, and I have my hair cut and sensibly Brylcreemed in the usual way. Normally this would be the time for some private reflections on my shiny new adult beauty, but today there are larger matters afoot. Sitting there in the chair, I explore in my imagination the possibility of requesting more than the usual amount of cream, and I can’t escape the conclusion that the barriers are indeed insurmountable. The thing, for me at least, just can’t be done.

Out of the barber’s now, that’s the first hurdle done with. I walk to a nearby chemist’s shop, already identified in advance, and buy a small jar of Brylcreem. I half expect the unsmiling assistant to ask why, as I am evidently the recent recipient of a dose of the stuff, am I immediately buying a further supply? Her expression says it all, but never mind, the purchase is completed and I leave the shop with the little jar in my pocket weighing the proverbial ten tons. The second hurdle has been overcome, I am two steps committed to the game, and right ahead lies the really risky bit.

As I expected, the work on the school building is still under way with ladders and so on, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone about. We have not been specifically banned from entering the building during the break, but even so, a gut feeling tells me I’m pushing my luck. I go into the yard by the rear entrance and enter the building by the rear door; yes, it’s open. My heart is in my mouth as I make my way along the silent corridor to the washroom. So quiet compared with the usual racket of schoolkids! It would be too bad to get caught committing what is, technically I suppose, a trespass. Parental authority would be astonished, as much as angered :

Question:  “What on earth were you doing, going into the school?”

Answer:   “I needed somewhere private, with a mirror, to Brylcreem my hair for Jenny.”

Whaaat? Truthful indeed, but could I admit it to save my life? The answer is a resounding NO so let’s just hope the situation doesn’t arise. I had originally intended that “the need to get a book” would serve as an adequate reason for being in the school, should I be found out, but right in the Here and Now I don’t think that excuse holds much water. None at all in fact. Even if I were somehow able to come clean with the genuine reason after all, and that’s the honest to God straight down the line Brylcreem reason my friends, it would sound so implausible that I’m sure I would automatically be branded as Up To No Good.

Along the silent corridor, here’s the washroom at last, and still not a soul about. The silence is uncanny. Alright, let’s get down to business. I go to where the wash-basins and mirrors are. I put the bag of books on the floor and take out my supplies; whole new jar of Brylcreem, comb, and a small pocket mirror so that I can check the ‘rear view’. As an afterthought I get a length of tissue from one of the cubicles, it might come in useful.      

The jar of cream I just bought was the smallest available, but there is more than enough in there to give my hair the wetted-through look that I want. I already have a moderate amount of cream on, after all. I apply fresh cream to the top, sides, and back, and I’m taking care to preserve the perfect parting that the barber made. If I make a mess of the parting I have serious doubts about my ability to restore it. I comb the new cream through and then turn my attention to the front hair. That’s the bit that matters, bringing the front hair up and back has such a major effect. It represents the transition from boy to young man, in fact you could say it’s the male equivalent of Jenny’s hairdo! Lots of fresh cream on, and when I comb the front back there’s a soft squelching sound like a boot being lifted out of soft mud. Oh, this looks fabulous. Finish it off with a long backwards comb stroke on the right, opposite the parting, and now my hair’s got that really ‘plastered back’ look. More cream than hair, I think, how much of the little jar have I used? About two thirds of it!

I check with the pocket mirror that there are no streaks or dry patches on the back of my head, and I make sure that I leave the back hair with that ‘just combed’ look. With the tissue I remove a few stray spots of cream from my forehead, my neck, and my ears. Well well, here we are, the deed is done. It looks much better than Paul’s hair did, this is truly what I consider ‘a lot of Brylcreem’ with a visible glossy excess lying on the surface. Enough! Back into my pockets go the mirror, the comb, and the much depleted jar of cream. Time to get going.

Much to my relief, I’m able to leave the school building as easily as I entered. Along the quiet corridor and out of the rear door, it’s almost too good to be true. What if one of the builders had locked the door while I was inside? Now that would have put me in a spot, but at a pinch I could have climbed out through a window. Suddenly it’s blindingly clear to me what a farcical situation I’ve created, as climbing out through a window might easily have spoiled my hair…

To be caught now would be a disaster, but in hardly any time at all, here I am out in the street again. The third hurdle is behind me, and now there’s nothing but a twenty minute walk separating me from Jenny. Or more correctly, I remind myself, from Jenny’s house.

——————————————————————-

I have hardly reached the street when something alarming happens, and it’s all the more upsetting for being so unexpected. The confident euphoria I felt in front of the mirror suddenly vanishes; it evaporates absolutely, leaving me with serious doubts as to what I’m letting myself in for. I feel like a burst balloon. Could it be that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? You bet I have! And having taken the game this far, I have no alternative but to see it through to its conclusion.

I remember thinking last Sunday that Jenny was like a walking advertisement for hair care products. Well if that’s so, then I must be a walking advertisement for Brylcreem, but that’s not to say it’s a good thing. I feel as if my hair has been glued to my head, I can clearly feel the mass of cream holding it all together and I have never felt so self-conscious in my life. The sensation is uncannily similar to those dreams you have in which you’re at school, or walking along a street, with no trousers or no shoes. The sense of vulnerability and impending ridicule is exactly the same, and it’s dreadful.

Are passers-by going to point and laugh? I would deserve it. So this is the price I pay for my vanity, my rash Brylcreem game, and my blind desire to impress Jenny. Will she be impressed? In my suddenly deflated state I very much doubt it! I wonder if this is how people feel when they’ve paid money for sexual services or to have a fantasy enacted, a thing that does apparently happen according to some of my better-informed colleagues at school. It’s a strange sense of guilt, lowness, and having been cheated, all rolled into one.    

So how will Jenny react then? Assuming she’s at home, of course. I picture the scene as she opens the door, her hair bouncing prettily because she has run, not walked, to the door. And why has she run? Because she thinks it might be Paul at the door, of course. When she sees me her face takes on an expression of surprise and her lovely eyes open very wide, but not, I think, with pleasure.

“Oh…  hello… what on earth have you got on your hair?”

“Er, I’ve just had it cut, the barber put Brylcreem on, here are some books for the sale.”

She thanks me for the books, and the door closes. Desolation!

I am jogged out of this depressing but oh-so-plausible reverie by the approach of some people along the street. Oh dear, here come the first witnesses to my ridiculous game. It’s two elderly ladies with shopping baskets and, oh no, might they be just the same two who were discussing Jenny’s hair at church on Sunday? I do believe they are, well well, it’s a small world. I can tell that one of them looks distinctly sideways at me as they walk past, no doubt the one who was critical of Jenny, and as they move away I hear words being exchanged. I can’t pick out the whole of it but I’m fairly sure the word ‘Brylcreem’ is mentioned. So they noticed!

Of course they noticed, and no doubt the critical woman is as disapproving of my hair as she was of Jenny’s. She will be lecturing the other woman on the evils of vanity and how Brylcreem isn’t for little boys, any more than hairdos are for little girls. I have the distinct impression that she doesn’t want young people to grow up, she would have us all staying in a kind of perpetual childhood with adult things always just out of reach. And yet, what is it that the Good Book say… “when I became a man, I put away childish things…”

Philosophical again, and as I ponder on this thought a small crumb of comfort suddenly cheers my gloomy state. It dawns upon me that the grumpy lady’s disapproval is one major thing that Jenny and myself have in common. And that’s a beginning!   

Here comes another witness. A girl of about thirteen, quite pretty, but not as beautiful as Jenny of course. Quickly I decide that a little act is appropriate. The game I’m playing exploits the fiction that the barber was responsible for the huge amount of Brylcreem on my hair, so let’s act as if that’s the truth. How would I look? I would be showing concern that this obvious excess might invite disapproval or ridicule, while at the same time resigned to it with a kind of shy pleasure. So lets act like that! As the girl approaches I shift the bag of books from my right hand to my left, then with the right I cautiously explore my creamy hair. Very gently, don’t spoil the just-combed look. At the same time, I make a face which I hope represents a mixture of concern and pleasure, the expression of a willing victim. What has the barber done to me? What does he think he’s playing at, I’ve never had this much Brylcreem on my hair before!

The girl goes past and we don’t make eye contact. But then I glance back, and catch her doing exactly the same thing. What’s she thinking? The look is too brief to read anything from it, but an element of curiosity is implied. She noticed me, anyway, not that she could really help it. Oddly enough, this small encounter seems to have restored my spirits to some extent. Maybe my hair doesn’t look so ridiculous after all.     

Here’s a furniture shop, and in the window is one of those tall bathroom mirrors on a wooden stand. As I walk past I catch a glimpse of my gleaming Brylcreemed self, just from the waist up because the mirror is tilted slightly backwards. My hair actually looks reasonable, and I’m almost tempted to go back and have another look, but I don’t. I’m not that keen on admiring myself, am I? This game is supposed to be for Jenny’s benefit, not mine. And her house is now only about five minutes’ walk away.

                                 ———————————————————-   

Shortly before I reach the turning that leads into Jenny’s street, I approach a shop which has been converted into an office. The window has been painted over dark green on the inside, with gold lettering announcing the name of a legal practice. The glass, painted on the back, acts quite effectively as a mirror and I stop to examine myself. This is what Jenny will be seeing a few minutes from now, so a quick check is in order.

My hair is still perfect, but as there’s no-one about I can’t resist putting down the bag of books, taking out my comb, and just touching up the front hair a little bit. That’s better, those comb marks are just right, and what a gloss that cream gives in the daylight. A few quick strokes of the comb down the back…  can you believe it, here I am combing my hair in the street like a real Brylcreem Boy. Can this really be me or is it an impostor? Back into my pocket goes the greasy comb, don’t drop it! I pick up the bag of  books, and off I go on the final leg of my quest.

Immediately between me and the street corner two boys of about twelve years old have appeared. They must have come round the corner out of Jenny’s street, and it’s perfectly obvious that they have seen me combing my hair. I hadn’t counted on that. I put on the willing victim look again, and cautiously touch my hair as if to check whether it’s still there. As before, I don’t make eye contact, but I’m conscious that both the boys are looking at me as they go past.

As I reach the corner, still exploring my shiny hair with one hand, I hear one of the boys speak in a tone of hushed awe :

“Hey Mike…  did you see that kid’s hair? He looked like he had a WHOLE JAR of Brylcreem on!”

“Yeah, he’s a regular at our church, he’s the one I think my sister likes”

With these words ringing sweetly in my ears, I head off up Jenny’s street with a spring in my step. There is now no doubt in my mind, after all, that Jenny is going to love it.

That was Michael, Jenny’s brother, what impeccable timing. I have to face the possibility that he was confusing me with Paul the Brylcreem Kid, but surely not, because Paul isn’t a regular at our church. Not yet, anyway. Let’s just hope against hope that Jenny is at home, and that this all works out okay. Now that my confidence appears to have returned, I want to make the most of it before it vanishes again. It has an unfortunate habit of doing that.

If my heart was in my mouth as I made my way through the silent school, that’s nothing to the way I feel now. Here’s number forty-eight. There’s a garden, and the front door has an Art Deco stained glass window and the name LANGDALE. I open the gate, go up the path, and press the doorbell. A distant ‘bing-bong’ sounds in the hall. There is no explosion of barking dogs, as I half expected, that’s a blessing. Just silence…  oh dear, the still silence of an empty house. But no, here comes somebody, a moving shape behind the stained glass, do I see the dark outline of Jenny’s hair?

The door opens and there is Jenny. She is wearing slacks and a blouse that show off  her figure nicely. Yes, her curls are bouncing gently. Yes, she is smiling at me and her pretty lips are parted slightly in a look of amused surprise.

“Oh, hello!” she says.

“I’ve brought some books for the sale” I say as calmly as I can manage, and hold the bag out towards her like a sacrificial offering. Bad move, I suddenly think, it’s inviting her to take the bag and that could be the end of the encounter.

“Oh, that’s very good of you… would you like to come in?”

Things are looking good, I go through the door and she closes it behind me. The entrance hall and staircase smell of wax floor polish. The game has moved to an advanced stage, here I am inside Jenny’s house, and here is Jenny standing right beside me.

“I’ve been trying to get some homework done while Mummy and Michael are both out. I was about to make some coffee…  would you like some?”

“Oh, yes please, that would be nice. What was your homework?”

“Maths, integration…  I can’t get the hang of it, I keep forgetting about the constant of integration. I don’t think I’ve got it in me to be a mathematician”.

We walk through to the kitchen, where Jenny fills the kettle and puts it on to boil. It’s one of those that has a whistle. I put the bag of books on the kitchen table, and sit down on a stool. My heart is going BANG BANG BANG, this is almost too good to be true. I’m trying not to stare at Jenny, but whenever she turns her back my eyes are drawn again and again to her hair, which is bouncing as she moves about the kitchen. Is she looking at me? Difficult to tell, not a lot of eye contact so far. Has she noticed my hair? She must have done. Much to my surprise, I suddenly find my mouth going into gear.

“Jenny, your hair looks nice, I think it really suits you”.

“Oh, thank you! I got tired of having it really long, I’ve had it long since I was about ten, but I always fancied having it flipped like this. I’ve got the right kind of hair.“

“You have, haven’t you… I’m amazed how precise the curls are.”

“I know…  the hairdresser’s very good and it did come out nicely. It was a kind of Easter treat for me, I had it done last Saturday. Mummy says I mustn’t spoil it, the perm takes a while to set properly.”

“There was an old lady at church on Sunday muttering about it, she said you weren’t old enough to have a hairdo.”

“That would be Mrs Roberts, she’s a proper old miseryguts. YOUR hair looks nice, you’ve got  Brylcreem on, haven’t you!”

“You’re not kidding, I’ve just had it cut on the way here. The barber put so much cream on, I don’t know what he thought he was doing. I’ve never had this much Brylcreem on my hair before.”

“He has put a lot on, it looks gorgeous.”

“Well thanks for that. I’ve always had the impression girls don’t like Brylcreem, but the barber just slaps it on anyway.”

“Well, I don’t mind it. To me it looks…  I don’t know, just nice. It suits you like that, combed all up and back. I bet it feels lovely as well.”

“Oh, it does, when you’ve got this much cream on you can feel it holding your hair.”

“I can feel these curls, I still haven’t really got used to them being there.”

With that, Jenny picks up a hairbrush from the sideboard, moves to a small mirror on the kitchen wall, and begins to brush her hair. I can hardly believe what I’m seeing. Her hair is so glossy and the chestnut curls bounce, bounce, and bounce again. Is this performance for my benefit, or is it just the natural action of a young woman with a recent hairdo?

As I sit there on the kitchen stool I feel a warm glow begin, all down the front of my body. It has switched itself on like a light. I know exactly what’s starting to happen, and I am completely powerless to stop it. The sight of Jenny brushing her beautiful hair and the gentle arousal of my own hair adventure are combining, combining, as if to push something over the edge…  I can hear myself panting, and as the chestnut curls bounce I experience a magnificent explosion in my underpants.

Oh dear. By the kind of providence that watches over fools in such situations, the sound of my panting is concealed by the whistle of the boiling kettle. Can this be real, it feels as if the ‘willing victim’ game has suddenly been elevated to a new level. If the excesses of my haircut brought pleasure mixed with concern, then the thing that’s just happened has brought bliss mixed with shame and dismay. I don’t think Jenny has noticed, she has her back to me and she”s making the coffee now. Good thing I’m wearing dark-coloured trousers, so hopefully it won’t show, not until I stand up, that is. I shift slightly on the stool and I feel, rather than hear, a small ‘squelch’ in my pants. Ironically, it’s not unlike the squelch when I combed my Brylcreemed hair. Oh, you silly silly boy. If Jenny knew what’s just happened I suspect she would never speak to me again. And after such a promising start!   

In the chaos that has replaced any form of rational thought in my head, the ridiculous notion occurs to me that if Jenny were to sit on this stool after I’ve gone, she might get pregnant… is such a thing possible? What a tale to tell. And I never even touched her! Jenny is handing me my mug of coffee.

“Are you alright?” she looks into my eyes with genuine concern. She is so close.

“Yes…  I just had a bit of a far-away moment. I haven’t been sleeping so well.”

“Are you worrying about school or something?”

“Not about school so much, no.”

“What about? You can tell me!”           

“We-ell…  er…  I would just like to get to know you a bit better…  Jenny, would you like to go out for a walk with me, sometime… or something?”

“Oh you silly, of COURSE I’ll come for a walk with you! When?”

She punches me playfully on the arm and she’s standing closer to me than ever. The precision and symmetry of her hair is just endlessly fascinating and for the first time, I notice what beautiful eyelashes she’s got.

“Not today, because I’ve got…  a few things to do…  maybe tomorrow afternoon?

“Yes, alright, that would be fine!”

Who would have thought it could be done so easily. I drink my coffee, burning my mouth in the process, and as Jenny is rinsing the mugs I cautiously check the kitchen stool for a visible wet patch. All appears to be well. I depart with a cheerful goodbye, leaving the bag of books which has served me so well, and leaving my beautiful Jenny to her maths homework.

And, apart from a small matter of soggy underpants, life is good.

                ——————————–THE END—————————————-

    

   

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