A Long Time Coming The Shopkeeper
I hadn’t talked to my stepmother in 4 years. My father had died and I traveled to Arizona for the funeral. Now it was her who had died, and her kids were having a memorial service in Columbus for all their friends and family. Even though I never liked the woman my parents brought their kids up to be respectful. At the service I was reunited with my stepsister and her brothers, it rekindled a whole lot of memories, not many of which were good.
It was just before my 14th birthday when my mother died of a heart attack. My older siblings were both already in college, so, it was just me and my father. My father just did not know how to go about raising a teenage girl by himself, so within a year of my mothers passing he began dating a divorced woman he had met through common friends. None of our family members cared for her, but my father was really just looking for help with me. So, in the summer before 10th grade they married. We moved in to her house with her and her daughter Jenny, who was a year younger than me.
That summer was one I would love to forget. My parents went on a honeymoon trip to Hawaii, so I decided to have some friends over for a little fun. Things were going good until Jenny and her friends showed up and raided my dad’s liquor cabinet. The neighbor got mad about the noise and called the cops. Jenny’s older brother Bill was called by one of the cops who knew him, then the party was broken up. I never even got to give my side of the story to my dad before I was told I was grounded by my stepmother for getting Jenny into trouble. Even though Bill had been gotten Jenny out of trouble with the locals on many occasions.
The rest of the summer just sucked. I was not allowed to see any of my old friends and had to stay and do housework while Jenny went to the mall almost every day. When it came time to start shopping for the start of the next school year I was told that whatever clothes I needed would be bought by my stepmother. About a week before the school year started, I was told we were going for haircuts the next day. My hair was half-way down my back and all I ever had done was my sister would trim the ends every 6 months or so, when she was home from college. I tried to ask my dad about having to get my hair cut but he told me that all those decisions were up to Margret, my stepmother. The next day my stepmother, Jenny and I went to the only hair salon in the town. I had only been in a beauty salon once with my mother before she died, so the whole thing was new to me. As I was sitting and looking around at the surroundings, I here Jenny telling her mother that I should have my hair cut like she usually gets. I did not like the sound of that since Jenny’s hair has been above her shoulders since I met her 6 month’s ago. I started to speak up to Margret about how I wanted my hair cut, but, she stopped me right away, telling me that she will decide what I need. I sit nervously awaiting my fate when Jenny starts rambling on about how much I’ll love short hair. Just then the lady calls over to Margret to send whoever is first. I am then escorted over to the station and caped. The beautician looks straight past me to Margret and asks what she wants for me. Margret replies “Cut her hair like Jenny’s”. I knew in my heart my hair would be short, but I thought if it was cut to my shoulder like Jenny ‘s I could live with that.
The lady never spoke to me, she just began to cut off the bottom 18 inches of hair. As much as I wanted to keep my long hair, maybe a fresh style would be good to meet new friends at my new school. After the initial chop, the lady sectioned of my hair, pinning up the top then combing the sides and back. To my shock, she then took her scissors at the side of my head and started cutting at my hairline, up and over my ears. I was shaking in the chair as she continued across my nape, then over my other ear. I started to pull up in the chair, when I was pushed back down in the seat, the lady warning me not to upset Margret. Just when I was settling back down, the beautician holds up something unfamiliar to me and turns them on with a loud whirring sound. I start getting upset again, not knowing what she is about to do. She raises them to the side of may head, and I my mouth drops open as she begins to buzz the hair from the side of my head. This was the late 70’s, and girls with clippered haircuts are still several years away. The beautician buzzed to within two inches of the top and continued all the way around to the other side. She then let the top down and to my horror, started cutting off what was left of any length I had left a full inch above my ear. I sat stunned as the beautician went around my head to the other side, only to be brought out of my trance to her Margret tell her to clip the bangs good and short so they will stay out of my eyes until my next haircut. As the beautician finished my up I stared at my reflection in the mirror, wondering want kind of friends I could possibly get with a haircut you would normally see on an elementary school girl. I stepped to the waiting area as Jenny was taken next. Thinking that I will soon not be the only one with a bowl cut I was as Jenny is seated in the chair. To my shock Jenny tells the beautician that she wanted to look more mature and is going to keep her hair longer. The beautician looks to Margret who, to my disbelief, tells the beautician that Jenny is old enough to decide for herself how she wants to look.
I still couldn’t believe what had just happened as we went to the car. When we got home, I went to my father thinking that he would be on my side in this matter. I had been picking out my own clothes and keeping my hair as I liked for the last 2 years and should be able to keep doing it as I started high school. To my dismay, my father told me that Margret felt that I needed this so I would be forced to focus on my studies instead of partying and boys.
Lets just say I was a bit of an outcast at the new school. I made a few friends and had average grades. I maintained a version of that bowl cut for my entire time in high school and by the time I was in 12th grade in 1983 it was almost in style. I moved out of my parent’s house soon after I graduated. My parents refused to help me go to college because Margret didn’t think I deserved it. (I later found out she convinced my dad to take the college money he had set aside for me to pay for Jenny’s big wedding even though she was pregnant at the time.) I got a job in an office which I did not mind as it gave me enough to live away from the step-monster.
Flash forward 35 years later, and I here I am at Margret’s memorial service. I made my husband and 3 kids go with me to keep me calm. I had not seen Jenny or her brothers in 35 years, as they couldn’t be bothered to pay their respects when my father died, and still held a deep-rooted hatred for all of them. None of my children or my husband had ever met Jenny, or her brothers and I was surprised when my youngest daughter Shelby started talking with Jenny. When they finished talking, I asked Shelby how she knew Jenny. Shelby runs a high end spa and tells me that Jenny is a regular at the spa and she sees her there every week for beauty and hair treatments. I never spoke about my step family to my kids, always choosing to forget about that part of my life, but now Shelby wants to know about them. I proceed to tell her about my ordeals with Margret and her kids, and I could see Shelby starting to get angry over what they put me though. As we get in the car to leave Shelby tells me that she knows just what to do to repay Jenny. I tell Shelby that it is all in the past and I don’t ever have to see them again. Shelby said okay, but I could tell by her grin she had a plan.
Shelby owned the spa with three other girls, when she told them about what happened to me years ago they were all on board with Shelby’s plan’s. The next week Jenny walked into the salon and spa. She always started at the spas juice bar for a beverage while she was there for the next several hours. Debbie, one of the three owners, offered Jenny a special healthy smoothie, which she could not resist. Debbie made the smoothie, which included several heaping spoonful’s of weight gain powder. The smoothie was over 3000 calories, but Jenny never noticed, drinking half of it while her nails were being done. Shelby comes over to collect Jenny for her hair appointment. Shelby then tells Jenny she will have another smoothie brought over once she gets her settled in. Shelby tells Jenny that the girl that usually does her shampoo is out today that she will do it herself. Shelby convinces Jenny that she needs a deep conditioning scalp treatment and applies the liquid to Jenny’s head. As part of her plan, Shelby had added a small amount of a permanent depilatory lotion into the bottle. She knew by just using a small diluted amount it would slowly begin to thin out Jenny’s hair without any obvious bald patches appearing to quickly. Shelby finished Jenny off with a great haircut so Jenny would not expect anything out of the ordinary. Shelby told Jenny she would need another deep treatment for full effect and made her another appointment for the following week. Shelby gave Jenny another “special” treatment the following week. She knew she couldn’t keep giving Jenny these treatments without raising suspicion so instead Shelby gave her a big bottle of shampoo and conditioner for being such a great client, both of which had the depilatory lotion inside. Jenny was still coming in every week to have her nails done and keep having those delicious smoothies.
4 months later Jenny is now almost 30 pounds heavier, and her once shiny long hair is now a thinned dull mess. She tells Shelby that her doctor says it’s normal for some women to go though this as they get older. Shelby looks at Jenny’s head and tells her with as bad as her hair is right know she needs to cut off the damaged hair to get back to the healthy bits. Jenny tells her to do whatever she needs to. Shelby pins the top of Jenny’s hair up then reaches for her clippers. As she pulls off the guide, she tells Jenny, “I know the exact cut you need.”