All For Grandpa’s Car

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Spring 2003- Sunday dinner

It was a standard Sunday at the Jenkins house.  Grandma Brookes was over for dinner, and discussing what her granddaughter, 17 year old Julieta, or JJ as she preferred (Always hating her proper name}, was going to do after high school. JJ’s mom had a small stack of brochures for various trade schools they were considering, as Julieta wasn’t interested in going to a 4 year college.  Grandma showed only the slightest interest until she saw the brochure for Matrix Hair Academy.  This was because Grandma Brookes was the thirty year owner of “Miss Brookes’ Beauty Parlor” located where she lived, about 10 miles from the Jenkins house.

She immediately grabbed the brochure, and announced to JJ and her parents…”I used to be an academic advisor to most of the best cosmetology schools in the area.  If you’re interested I’m sure I could get you a spot in one of them.”  JJ was unsure of letting her grandma anywhere near where she wanted to go.  She hated how old and smelly her grandmas shop was, plus for her entire life her mom would drive her there every few months, so one of the old beauticians could trim JJ’s hair, or worse yet, having it cut short every summer until she was in high school.  Thankfully for JJ, she hadn’t been forced to return for 3 years now, and her hair finally reached her bra strap.  JJ’s parents, on the other hand saw this as a great opportunity for their daughter to be able to make a proper living for herself.

JJ still hesitated, explaining that she wasn’t 100% sure what type of school she wanted to go to.  It was then time for grandma to sweeten the pot, as she made an offer that JJ’s parents wouldn’t let her refuse…”I’ll make you a deal Julieta.  I’ve had 3 girls retire this year, and I’m hard pressed to find some help.  If you come work for me after school and on Saturdays and I’ll pay for all your classes.”  Her parents were elated with the offer as money was tight, and this would definitely ease the burden.  JJ, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure.  She really hated the smells of the old shop, plus she wanted to work in a modern shop, not one for a bunch of senior citizens.

JJ needed an out, and finally blurted out what she thought would save her from her fate…”It’s a long way away, and I don’t know if the bus even goes that far.”  It was time for grandma to play her trump card…”Well then, I have the perfect solution for all of us.  I still have you grandfathers car, and it’s yours to use while you work for me and go to school.  It was just to good of an offer to refuse, she had been wanting her own car since she got her license.  JJ reluctantly said she would accept the offer.

JJ didn’t expect what her grandma said next…”Great to hear.  You can spend the night at my house, and go to school tomorrow from there.”  Just like the beauty parlor, JJ hated her grandma’s house.  He grandma was old fashioned, and still had her old TV set with no cable, or internet.  JJ knew it would be a long, boring evening.

The old person smell hit her as soon as she walked thru the door, but she knew it was worth it to get her hands on her grandpa’s car.  Her grandma turned the stove on to heat a kettle…”Why don’t you put your pajamas on, and we’ll have a nice cup of cocoa.”  It was only 8:00, several hours before JJ usually thought about going to bed, but she played along with her grandma.

As she was called to come get her cocoa, JJ walked in to the kitchen wearing a long t-shirt and black bikini panties.  As her grandma turned to see her, she was definitely not happy with what she saw…”Did you not bring your pajamas dear?’  JJ always wore this, or less to bed and tried to say she was good like this.  Grandma was having none of it…”Young ladies don’t sit around with their undergarments on display.  Let me get you some proper pajamas.”  She returned with a full length, flannel night gown…”You can wear this tonight.  I’ll speak with your mother about  making sure you get some proper night clothes.”  JJ put the heavy thing on, the only skin showing below her neck was her hands.  The moved to the living room to drink their cocoa.

JJ sat, uncomfortably in the living room.  Immediately looking st her phone, and cursing at the poor signal she always got at grandmas house.  As she leafed thru a magazine she grabbed off the table her grandma said…”Finish your cocoa, then you can help me roll my hair before we go to bed.”  It was barely dark outside, and JJ certainly wasn’t ready for bed, but she followed her grandmother into her room and watch as she started to comb out small sections of hair and rolling then into small foam rollers.  “As I comb out a section, you can roll it for me okay?”

JJ placed at least 30 rollers in her grandma’s hair, and as they were finishing up her grandma looked at her…”Now it’s your turn.  Have a seat and we can get you all rolled up”  JJ wanted nothing to do with having to sleep with rollers in her hair, but she decided she should go along with the woman who was giving her the keys to freedom the next morning.  She also knew she would be able to rinse them out when she showered in the morning.  Her head now covered with about 40 yellow foam roller, her grandma told her it was time for bed.  JJ didn’t want to go to bed at 9:30, but her grandma escorted her to the spare bedroom and waited for her to get in bed before turning off the lights.  It took a while for JJ to get used to laying on the rollers, but within a half hour was sound asleep.

JJ was awoken out of her sleep at 5:30, a full hour before she had set her alarm on her phone…”Come on young lady, we have a busy morning.”  JJ slowly sat up, putting her hands to the strange feeling on her head…”We’ll get your hair sorted after your bath.”  JJ hadn’t taken a bath since she was a small child…”That’s okay gram, I’ll just take a quick shower.”  Her grandma stood her ground, handing JJ a plastic shower cap…”Put this on before you get in the tub.  I don’t want those nice curls to get wet while your in there.”

JJ knew not to cross her grandma, so she put on the plastic cap, looking at the odd reflection in the mirror, and lowered herself into the steaming bath.  She was somewhat overwhelmed by the rose scented bath at first, but after a 20 minute soak the smell went unnoticed.

As she pulled herself out of the tub, and barely covered with a towel, her grandma was in the bathroom…”Let’s get your hair finished before you put on your dress.”  JJ had no idea what the old lady was going on about, she had packed jeans and a designer top for her school outfit, the same as she wore everyday…”Gram, I have my clothes in my room.”

Her grandma shut that down quickly…”I had your mother send one of your dresses for you.  I still think they should have sent you to catholic school where you’d dress like a lady everyday.”  JJ figured she would just have to change into her jeans and comb out her hair when she got to school.  “Okay gram I’m heading to school”

Her Grandmother stopped her before she left…”Leave your other clothes with me dear.  I’ll drop them off when I take your foam rollers and shower cap to your mother.”  JJ didn’t know what her grandma was going on about…”That’s okay gram.  I can take them with me.”  Grandma was having none of it…”No point in you dragging all the extra stuff around with you when I am going to see your mother anyhow.  I’ll tell her to help you roll your hair up every night until you can do it yourself.  I’ll give her a bottle of the rose bubble bath for you too.  I don’t want your to ruin those curls in the shower.”

JJ was now really starting to regret her choice.  She knew her mother would see to it that she sat in a smelly bathtub every night.  She was also not happy about having to go to school today in a dress and her hair un-straightened.  She certainly didn’t expect what her grandma had to say next…”You are to wear a dress when you work in my shop and I expect you to keep your hair curled.  If it becomes to much of a burden for you, I’ll have Shirley give you a nice perm.”

That name sent shudders thru her body.  Shirley was the woman who always chopped her hair short when she was younger and always told her mom she should give her a tight head of curls.  Thankfully her mom always turned down the offer.  What worried JJ the most was she certainly didn’t like the rules that were being thrust upon her.  Smelling like an old lady was bad enough, but having to wear a dress to school was going to do major damage to her reputation, and the curly hair wasn’t going to help either.

Just as she figured, JJ got quite a bit of ridicule from all her straightener loving girlfriends, not to mention the odd looks she had received at the dress she was wearing.  The only compliments she received were from some of the older teachers at the high school.  She was still wondering if it was all worth it, until she walked out to her new ride.

She sat in the car, staring at the front of the beauty parlor, saying to herself…”God, I hate this place…It better be worth it.”  As she walked inside the smell hit her like a wall.  She was barely 2 steps thru the door when she was greeted by the woman that used to haunt her, Shirley…”I knew you’d come back to me.  Come have a seat and I’ll give you a proper head of curls”  Just then her grandma walked out of the back…”Come on Shirley, I told you not to scare the poor girl.”

Just then another young girl walks into the beauty parlor…”Oh great, Shirley’s granddaughter is here” After the standard hugs from her grandmother, she was introduced to JJ as Shirley Jean.  The girl rolled her eyes when her full name was used, as it had been an embarrassment to her for her entire life.  She held out her to JJ…”It’s just Jean”.  JJ’s grandma wasted no time showing the girls around and explaining their duties.  They would be shampooing customers, and removing curlers and perm rods when needed, plus keeping  the place clean and well stocked.  The last thing was she handed both girls a pink smock to be worn over their dresses.  As they took them, they both rolled their eyes at the thought of any of their friends seeing them dressed like this.

While JJ’s social standing at school had taken a bit of a hit by her daily wardrobe of curly hair and dresses or skirts, she eventually found her comfort zone and settled in.  She also became comfortable at the beauty parlor, and had even asked Shirley to do her hair for her prom dance.

Once she graduated, JJ figured she would have the usual 3 month summer break to enjoy some sun and fun.  Her grandmother  told her that both her and Shirley-Jean would be starting cosmetology school on Monday.  JJ, while excited was somewhat confused, as she hadn’t met with or even visited either of the two cosmetology schools in the area.  Her grandmother handed each of the girls a card.

Di’ Paolo’s House of Beauty

Roberto Di’ Paolo, Director

Both girls had a confused look on their faces.  This is not what either one of them had expected.  JJ’s grandmother told them that they should be honored that they would get to learn from Roberto…”Roberto has taught all of the best sylists in the area for over 40 years.  You two are lucky as he doesn’t hold regular classes anymore, but agreed to teach you two only because I asked him”  The two girls didn’t see it that way, they had expected to go to one of the top end cosmetology schools in the area.

The following Monday both girls sat in their cars outside the beauty school.  The place looked like it had been there for years, but hadn’t seen any life in a long time.  Waiting until exactly 8:00, they both headed for the door.  Looking at each other, they said, in unison…”This is going to suck”.  As they walked in they were immediately greeted by Roberto Di’Paulo…”Hello ladies, welcome to Di’Paulo’s House of Beauty.  I assume you are both here for a cut and a perm?”  Shaken, the girls looked at each other, then at Roberto…”No, we are supposed to be here for cosmetology school”  Roberto let out a big laugh…”I know why your here.  Madam Brookes insisted that I teach you how to be the best beauticians in the city, so that’s precisely what I’m going to do.”  Relieved, the girls followed him thru the building.  As they walked thru the salon area Roberto shocked the girls again…”We’ll give you two those perms later on, but first we start in the classroom.”

The girls spent the next several days in the classroom going over the technical stuff the would need to be licensed.  As it was just the two of them, things went fast, Roberto telling them “We will do twice the work, in half the time.”  The second week they were given manikin heads to work with, again Roberto loaded the girls up with his knowledge.  They quickly learned proper rolling techniques, and styling with a dryer before ever picking up a pair of scissors.

It was week three when Roberto began to teach them cutting methods, his 70 year old hands were still very steady, and both girls were starting to really see the skills he had and why they were sent to him.  They worked on the heads for many cuts, going progressively shorter, then putting them aside once the hair was about 3″ long.  Once Roberto felt they had gotten good enough with the shears, surprising to the girls he brought the old heads back…”Now it’s time for clipper cuts, unless one of you wants to volunteer.”  It only took a few seconds for the girls to figure out it was another one of Roberto’s jokes.

Roberto explained that her was a barber before in Italy before he came here and opened the beauty school, so he was expertly trained in clipper work.  The girls found it a bit awkward at first but with Roberto’s help soon began to get comfortable, if not good with the clippers.

It was week eight and the girls walked in the school only to find the waiting area lined with customers waiting to have Roberto ‘do’ there hair for them.  Roberto quickly moved the girls into their positions before the customers started flowing.  While Roberto was doing most of the actual styling, he made sure each one of them was there to assist, and at times take over working on the customers.  This was to get them used to juggling many customers at a time thru the stages of their services.

As the days passed Roberto was letting the girls do more and more of the work on the customers, until eventually they worked on their own.  Without even noticing, both girls were moving thru customers completing haircuts, coloring, and roller sets.  The one thing they had yet to do was a perm and Roberto told them they would both have plenty of practice over the next few days.

Roberto had scheduled in two perm clients each day for both girls for the next week. However, the last two days saw all 4 customers cancel.  Roberto was upset that he had nobody for the girls to work on, so he did what he had always done in the past…”Jean, it’s your turn in the chair.”  Jean stood there shaking he head no “I don’t want my hair permed”  But Roberto just turned the chair towards her…”JJ had her turn in the chair when we were short last time, so now it’s your turn.”   Jean knew that was the rule, but she still tried to avoid getting in the chair…”Can’t we just do an extra one tomorrow?”  Roberto just stood there waiting, and within a few seconds Jean now defeated sat in the chair…”Please don’t make it too short.”

After JJ finished washing Jean’s hair, she lifted the chair up to its upright position, and she looked to Roberto.   Without a thought for the young girl in the chair…”Blue rods, normal pattern”  Both JJ and Jean knew that meant Jeans hair would be cut short.  JJ started to comb thru Jean’s long hair while Jean grabbed the armrest tightly.  Her eyes were filled with tears as JJ started to hack away at the bra length hair.  Sobbing as she spoke..”Couldn’t you leave it a few inches longer?”

Looking at Roberto, JJ knew the answer and continued until Jeans whole head was now a uniform 3″ of hair.  After separating the hair into the proper pattern  JJ started to comb off a small section of hair, she hesitated as she reached for the rod, knowing exactly what she was about to do to her classmate.  Roberto, of course saw this and offered his thoughts on the matter…”If you think your client would get a better outcome with the smaller rods, don’t hesitate to use them.”  That was all she needed to push her forward.  The first blue rod rolled tightly to the scalp.

Jean winched as each rods was placed.  After the first 5 were done, Roberto inspected JJ’s work…”For a tight perm like this it’s important that the hair is completely rolled to the scalp.  Your rods have a nice pull on them but don’t go any looser when you wind them.”  JJ continued on the next section  Roberto, pleased with her work…”She’ll tell you if your pulling it too tight.”

The whole time this is happening Jean’s eyes are still flooded with tears.  Roberto, seeing this tries to get her back on track.  “First perm is always scary, but in a few month’s time the next time will be easy”  Jean wanted to run from the chair.  The thought of keeping a head full of curls was almost too much, but Roberto said something that almost made her smile…”Soon enough  JJ will be your twin, so you both will get to practice on each other for a long time.”  This didn’t go unnoticed on JJ as a chill ran through her as she wound Jean’s hair.

Roberto returned from the supply closet with the perm kit.  It was different than the ones JJ and Jean had used on their customers the last few weeks.  He opened it and pulled the bottle from the inside…”Pay attention ladies.  This is a different perm than we’ve been using called an exothermic perm.  You need to mix the heat activator into the waving solution before using it.”  He mixed the 2 bottles then handed it to JJ…”Just like a regular perm, but it gets warm as it works.”  As JJ begins saturating each of the small rods, Jean focuses on the box sitting in front of her. “Quantum Ultra Firm Options”  Mega Hold Exothermic Perm Kit.  Jean knew this guaranteed she would have a head full of tight curls when it was finished, and they would last for months to come.

Disappointed, she spoke up…”Why did you use this perm on me”  Roberto made eye contact in the mirror with her “You should know exactly why we chose this one”  Jean thought back to what Roberto had taught them…’When choosing perm use the strongest one you can without causing damage’.  She was brought out of her thoughts by the feeling of her head becoming warm…”Hey, this is getting a bit warm”  To her dismay, Roberto explained to her and JJ that this type of perm opens the hair fibers up much more than a standard perm, allowing for deeper, stronger curls and locking them in for months longer.

JJ covered Jean’s head with plastic, and as she waited for the chemicals to do their job.  All Jean could do was stare in the mirror and wonder what her new appearance was going to do to her.  Twenty-five minutes later her hair was rinsed, then neutralized.  After 10 minutes, a final rinse and under a hood dryer for 15 minutes.  Finally, after what had seemed like a full day it was time to remove the rods.

JJ started in the back, out of Jean’s sight, but Jean could see the surprised look on JJ’s face as she pulled more and more rods away from her head.  She knew she was not going to like the outcome.  As JJ started working on the sides the curls came into Jean’s view, she was not happy with what she was seeing…”How can they be that tight?  You didn’t even use the smaller rods”

Roberto came over to the chair as Jean was taking the rods off the top of Jeans head…”Wonderful.  It’s so nice to see such a beautiful head of curls”  JJ, trying to sound professional, even though she was really just showing her mean streak, decided to make Jean even more uncomfortable…”So Roberto, how come she has such super tight curls when we used a medium rod?”  Roberto went on to explain that this type of perm actually pulls tighter as it breaks down the hair structure.  JJ could stop herself, nudging Jean’s shoulder…”Good thing I didn’t use the small rods.”  Jeans eyes welled up as JJ picked and prodded, lifting Jeans hair into place.  Roberto, sensing Jeans discomfort, took pity on her…”Okay JJ, lets not taper the bottom today.  Give your customer a nice coat of hairspray before she’s finished.”

Jean left the school that Friday afternoon a defeated woman and her evening didn’t get any better.  While her mom and grandmother Shirley were both overjoyed by her new mature look, her boyfriend was not impressed.  Jean thought she could soften the blow of her new look by doing a video call to him before seeing him in person, but he told her she looked like a freak.  He then told her he had some last minute stuff to do this weekend, so he had no time to see her.  Jean knew immediately her 8 month romance was over.

The last 6 weeks of school went by smoothly.  JJ had been very nervous the whole time, wondering every day if it would be her turn to fill in for a customer that didn’t show up for their perm appointment, but luckily, it never happened.  Jean, now without a boyfriend, and not really in the mood to try find a new one, had started to spend every night and weekend hanging out with JJ.

Even though Jean knew JJ had loved taking her beauty from her and was becoming more dominant over her,  she kind of liked how it felt to be controlled.  Even at times she thought about what it would feel like when her perm grows out, only to have JJ sit her down again, not giving her any choice, but another 6 month’s of curls.  Surprisingly, the thought of this happening didn’t bother her anymore.

Their classwork now over, Roberto told the girls that the following day they would be going to the state licensing board, where they would have to prove their knowledge of proper procedures and also their skills on actual customers.  JJ packed her tools and headed out for the day, but Jean had to wait for her last customer to be finished under the dryer before she could leave.

As Jean waited, Roberto came over and told her that she was still short on required perm work, so she might be required to give a perm at the licensing board.  He said she should pack some perm rods, and a make sure to take a perm kit with her.  Jean grabbed several trays of yellow and red perm rods, then reached for a perm kit.  While first grabbing one of the standard go-to perm kits that they used on most of their customers, Jean saw one of the perm kits that had been used on her.  She knew it was senseless to take it, but her hand reached up and she placed it in her bag.

The next day found them taking their exams.  Roberto had taught them well, and both girls sailed thru the test, scoring 100% on the written exam.  They then moved to another area, waiting their turns to show off their skills.  The testing facility usually had several ‘customers’ available, who would be there for free haircuts and styles, or at times some people brought their own person with them for the hands on part of their testing.

JJ was first up, with the examiner telling her she wanted to see her do a complete hair coloring, then a haircut for her client.  She went to the front of the building, and asked the people in the waiting area if anyone wanted their hair cut and colored.  She quickly found a volunteer and took the woman back into the test area and proceeded with her test. The examiner was quite impressed with the skills JJ had shown and gave her a perfect score.

She was surprised to see Jean still waiting to take her test, assuming that she would go at the same time that she had.  JJ was excited to tell Jean about her score, but as she approached her, she could see their was a problem…”Jean, what’s the problem?”  Looking up, Jean told her…”The examiner wants me to do a perm, but there aren’t any volunteer’s”  JJ felt sorry for Jean, telling her that someone will show up.

As JJ began to put away all of her tools, Roberto was at her side “JJ, I need you to be Jean’s client”  Her heart stopped.  She had known since she talked to Jean, that she would be her client if nobody else came in.  She hoped that they would wait a while longer, but Roberto told her to head up front, and sign in as a perm volunteer.  For JJ, signing her name on the form was like signing her life away.  She knew her boyfriend was just like Jean’s was, and would probably stay with her about as long as Jean’s did.  As soon as the form was signed she saw a smiling Jean calling her back to shampoo her hair before heading to her station

As JJ sat in the seat she saw the trays of yellow and red rods on the counter…”Jean, don’t you have any bigger rods?”  Jean made eye contact in the mirror her..”Sorry JJ, I thought I would be perming some old lady.”  Jean then took the perm kit out of her bag, and it wasn’t the standard one.  Jean saw JJ’s face turn white at the sight of the same perm that that was given to her 3 months ago…”Roberto told me you might end up being my client and told me to bring this one.”

JJ started to cry as Jean started to cut her hair off, knowing that her days as a long haired girl were probably gone for good.  Unknown to JJ, all the test monitor had told Jean was she had to should show that she could do a proper perm.  In reality she didn’t even need to apply the perm solution, just shown she could cut and roll the customers hair in a proper manner, then show the steps of processing the perm.

Jean wasn’t about to let JJ off that easy, rolling a combination of the yellow and red rods tightly on to JJ’s head.  Once the monitor checked the quality of her rolling skills, Jean was given the okay to proceed.  JJ stared at Jean as she mixed the waving lotion with the thermolizer.  She knew the chemicals would be saturating her hair in a matter of minutes, changing not only her hair, but her entire life in less than an hour.

After the perm had done its magic and JJ was back in the chair, Jean began unwinding the nearly 100 rods in her hair.  The combination of the smallest rods with the ultra firm perm made JJ’s hair sit even tighter against her head than Jean’s did.  As Jean began to pick thru JJ’s hair she jokingly said “Hey, we’re s couple of twins now”  JJ was not at all amused by the joke, and wanted to go home as soon as possible.

The test monitor came over to inspect Jeans work and as a surprise to her said she wanted to she her raise JJ’s neckline.  JJ wasn’t paying attention at first, but as she saw Jean plugging in her clippers she was getting nervous.”Why do you have those out Jean?”  Concentrating on her work, Jean pushed JJ’s head forward “Chin down please”  The clippers went to the bottom of her head and with a quick move move half way up.  Several more passes, then Jean moved to the sides, running the clippers over the top of JJ’s ears, leaving them fully exposed.

As Jean finished working on her ‘client’ the monitor congratulated her on the fine work.  “Beautiful job miss”.  It wasn’t until then than she took notice of what she had done to JJ’s hair.  It was much more severe than what JJ had done to her, and for a moment or two, she wondered if deep down she wanted to do this to her as payback for the perm she now wore.

JJ sat in the chair and couldn’t believe what she was looking at. Turning her head from side to side, she could only stare at the inch of bare skin now showing above each ear before the taper even started.  Just as JJ was going to get up, Jean decided to play the dominant one this time…”I’ll clipper the bottom every Friday so you start the weekend off just right”  JJ said nothing as they made their way out the door, while Jean knew she would have plenty of time on her hands from now on…”So, what are we going to do this weekend?

Of course the girls spent Friday and Saturday together, then Monday morning as they pulled up to the shop what they saw took them both by complete surprise.  The front window had new lettering on it

Julietta & Jean’s Beauty Parlor

They quickly went inside, and were greeted by Shirley and JJ’s grandmother.  “The new bosses are here”  Confused, JJ asked her grandma what she meant.  It was then that both girls were told that their grandmother’s would be semi-retiring, so they agreed to turn over their partnership in the business to JJ and Jean.  JJ would get 60% of the business, while Jean would get 40%, so even in  business together Jean would stay submissive to JJ.  The wheels started to turn in both girls heads, but their grandmother’s told them that the one rule is that they keep it a traditional beauty parlor so the older ladies have a place to go.  As they began the rest of the day JJ’s grandmother couldn’t help but comment on her hair…”The old girls will feel right at home when they see the two of you, so you better plan on keeping your new look.”  After what her grandmother had done for her all she could do was smile…”Of course I’ll keep it gran.”

Twenty years later and the girls are still in business together. Both girls decided years ago it was best for the business if they looked the part, which of course meant sitting in each others chair every 5 months for a fresh perm, and weekly turns with the clippers to freshen up the taper.

 

Thanks to PBB for the motivation.

 

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