Over the next twelve months my weekly shampoo and set with Abigail always came as a wonderful to end my school week. A variety of curly styles were used to create an atmosphere for a weekend of continued pampering. I wore the most wonderful female attire. I grew my fingernails and pierced my ears as my girlhood began to evolve and take its natural course. My skin was soft due to the occasional self-applied facial with Abigail and my mother providing instruction regarding the latest make up trends. My pet name of Andrea was personally thought to be too close to my birth name of Andrew, and with my growing female persona I became known as Angela. It was a subtle difference but chosen because of its meaning as a messenger. That message had been sent to me the previous year in the form of embracing my true self.
Abigail’s hair had continued to grow with her tresses alternating between a bun and half up style. My mother had continued to follow the hair trends of Princess Diana who now wore her locks slightly longer and accessorised with side combs. Such a style suited my mother with her original Princess Diana cut thought to be just a little too short. I had kept my hair in the restyle given by Abigail during my very first salon visit but this was about to change.
I had recently started high school and with it came an urge to change up my hair. There were many beautiful examples of how hair could be cut and styled but it was the 1980’s and with my liking for curls came the natural progression of most females during the era to eventually take the plunge of a perm. My birthday was due in two weeks with it thought an ideal time to follow my heart and continue my feminine journey.
My usual appointment for a shampoo and set had been booked the week previous as per usual but with the extra provision for a cut. My hair was trimmed every eight weeks to allow for healthy ends to be maintained with it now due. I told my mother of my intentions with she happy that her girl was continuing to follow her girly instincts and dreams. She had been thinking of perming her hair but was still a little apprehensive. My first perm was considered such a special occasion deserving of some reward with a stylish three-quarter length dress with bell sleeves and belt purchased for my special day.
I could not wait until Friday afternoon. My eyebrows were waxed into a nice arch at the beautician on Thursday after school and some lovely false lashes applied. The visit to the beautician was a first but I had decided to really glam up for the occasion of my much-anticipated perm the following afternoon. Little sleep was obtained that night as excitement built. School was its usual rough self however my mother collected me an hour earlier to allow time to get ready for my visit to the salon.
My nails had been painted and legs freshly shaved the night before as my mother helped apply makeup. I was still not completely adept at its application but was getting closer. My new dress looked fabulous and hung with aplomb as lipstick was applied and heeled shoes fitted. There was no point in wearing elaborate hair with it decided to be worn loose and brushed away from my face and accessorised with a pretty ribbon tied in a bow. A nice choker given as a gift the previous Christmas adorned my neck.
I was finally ready.
My mother and I hopped into the car as excitement built further for what was to shortly follow. The ten-minute drive seemed to take an eternity but in hindsight was no different in time to its usual journey. My mother and I looked at each other and intuitively giggled at this next stage of my femininity. A car space was found immediately adjacent to the salon which came as a special omen. My mother made mention that she would return in a couple of hours and to enjoy the experience.
I was greeted enthusiastically by Abigail who noticed my newly arched eyebrows and false lashes. She always never failed to mention that I was a pretty girl and seemed to genuinely enjoy my continuing evolution. I was about fifteen minutes early but was immediately invited through to the shampoo basin. I was towelled ready to be shampooed as Abigail made mention of what type of curl we were going to be doing today. A deep breath was taken as it was mentioned that it was much preferred that my hair was permed.
‘What a wonderful idea.’ replied Abigail enthusiastically as she sought a different clarifying shampoo to aid in my perm. ‘I’m so very pleased for you. I was only wondering last week when Angela would finally take the plunge.’ She congratulated me on such a wonderful choice and wished it was her about to become a permed young lady. I felt so special as my hair was pampered, massaged and rinsed. The salon apprentice had upon hearing of my perm ventured to the rear of the salon where a trolley full of different coloured rods and perm papers were prepared ready for Abigail to work her talented magic. She too offered her congratulations.
New chairs with a massage feature had been purchased and installed at the salon that week as I followed Abigail to her usual cutting station. My hair was detangled as the salon apprentice sought a book from the reception area full of the most wonderful perms from which to choose. Flipping from page to page found a plethora of the utmost amazing options. Encouragement was offered by Abigail as to what type of length would be suitable. As much I had adored the luxury and versatility of my long tresses it was time to try something totally different and lose my long locks for a shorter look.
There was some surprise by Abigail at such a suggestion, but she quickly embraced the concept. A girly short hair makeover would be lovely with the addition of a perm to be a bonus. At the same exact moment an ideal perm at the right length was found in the same book. It was ultra curly but cut in a short-layered bob that left some length past the ears at above chin level but also shaped concavely to the collar. It was to be a dramatic change but one with which I felt ready to undertake.
My hair was sectioned for the big chop as Abigail made certain of my request. I said positively that there was no turning back as she explained that she would cut my hair to just above the shoulders to be styled shorter and layered more precisely upon completion of my perm. It made sense with the tightness of my perm sure to shrink any length. With that I closed my eyes in anticipation as Abigail commenced cutting. It was found to be a wonderful therapeutic experience as length was snipped and layers sculpted into what was still a very feminine style. The bangs that had been refused during my initial visit a year beforehand were cut to the tip of my nose to allow for an eventual eye skimming feature.
I was so happy at the transformation occurring that afternoon. My right hand instinctively rose to touch the feel of my hair as Abigail finished cutting. It to me was so short but in a liberating sense also perfect. Control was continuing to be taken of my own life, for my own reasons, which did not include the bullies from school. It was then mentioned by Abigail that some seriously wonderful curls were on their way as perm rods were used to pin my hair. There were so many rods when compared to my usual set, and made my head feel quite heavy, but this came as okay.
My perm wrap was completed in no time with such shortish strands. Cotton wool was placed around my forehead and my ears as Abigail gave a good drenching of perm solution before the placing of a cap to help my curls develop. The new salon chairs were amazing and provided a luxurious concept to the hairdressing experience. The latest issue of Good Housekeeping magazine was read as my curls continued to process. Fifteen minutes had passed when Abigail checked progress but suggested a little more time before a return to the basin. Seven minutes later and she mentioned that my perm was cooked.
A lovely cascade of warm water rinsed the solution from my perm rods which seemed to last forever. A thorough rinse was required to ensure preparation for the neutraliser to set my perm in its desired style. The perm rods nearer to the shampoo basin were a little more difficult to reach but success was nevertheless still found. The rods were then blotted with a fresh towel to remove any excess water before the neutraliser made an appearance to do its job. The neutraliser was so cold.
We were so close to finishing. Another rinse soon followed to remove the neutraliser. All of this rinsing at the basin came as pure heaven and only added to the positive experience. The rods were then removed as Abigail explained my perm had taken nicely and that I was to see the results of being a short haired curly whirly girl in no time. A finishing conditioner was added before my hair was wrapped in a towel and a return to Abigail’s cutting station.
By this time my mother was sitting in the salon reception. I daintily waved as she came across to witness the unveiling of her girl’s first perm. As Abigail removed the towel to reveal a mass of shortish curls my mother gasped in shock excitement at its length. I mentioned that my length was to be taken shorter still as Abigail sectioned my perm for cutting into a beautiful bob. My new bangs fell perfectly as Abigail continued shaping. Some product was placed in my hair as I was told not to wash my hair for forty-eight hours to allow the curls to properly set.
A small mirror was used to show the end result. A most wonderful layered bob had evolved which was found to be a very stylish addition to my ever-growing persona. I was so pleased with the shape and curl as Abigail was given a friendly peck on the cheek for her talent. My mother mentioned that she thought I would never go that short, but she appreciated the boldness to undertake such a change. She genuinely loved my perm.
I had become accustomed to having short hair when returning to Abigail six weeks later for a conditioning treatment and a trim. My perm had dried my hair considerably, but this was expected with a treatment an ideal tonic to maintain my artificial curl. A trim freshened my perm and also maintained the shape of my bob. My ponytail was occasionally missed but the reality of owning a head of lovely curls had exceeded my expectations. Some girlfriends at school had admired my new curly ‘do with two having made appointments for a perm. One had decided upon a spiral perm which sat at shoulder length with the other opting for a body wave to give her limp and short hair more oomph. Both were inspired choices with Abigail gaining two new but also very happy and satisfied clients.
My mother after much hesitation had also taken the plunge. She had decided upon a short curly perm for her trimmed locks that still allowed an option to accessorise with her Princess Diana inspired side combs. It looked quite sweet. I had created a real trend.