1 Back to work
Antonia had decided to have her long highlighted hair cut short and tightly permed on her 21st birthday, which was also the day when she would marry her long time boyfriend Rob. She had been worried about Rob’s reaction to her change in image, but she need not have worried, as he really loved her to have her hair that way.
After her honeymoon, Antonia was on her way back to work. She was concerned how her new hairstyle would go down, long straight and highlighted was seemingly the unofficial office uniform. Antonia had set her hair very tightly on small red curlers Sunday afternoon, similar to the ones upon which her hair had been permed, and slept with her curlers in her hair overnight. Checking her hair, just out of curlers, and sprayed heavily, in her rear view mirror, she got out of her car and walked the rest of the way into the office. Bert, the security man on the door, was the first person she saw. “Your hair looks nice Antonia, it suits you, have you had a perm?” Antonia blushed.
“Thank you Bert. Yes I had it done for my birthday.”
She went upstairs to her office and sat quietly at her desk towards the back. Several of her colleagues were already at their desks, and she remained unnoticed until Fiona arrived. “Antonia! What has happened to your hair? It is dark, short and permed” This was enough to attract the attention of all of her colleagues, who came down to check what was going on under the subterfuge of asking about her wedding. Antonia was bombarded with a load of questions, but was saved when Carol, the supervisor, came in. “What’s going on here? What is all the noise?”
“It’s Antonia, Carol. She’s had all her hair cut short and permed.”
“Get back to work everyone, I think it looks really nice Antonia.” Giving a scary smile, Carol returned to her office.
At lunchtime, Antonia was pressed for answers to the girls outstanding questions, and Antonia thought that this was the end of the matter, when, at the end of the day, Carol came into the office with her girlfriend, both sporting identical “office uniform” long straight highlighted hair. Mandy, the girlfriend, said “her hair does look old fashioned, but it does look smart and neat.” Smiling sweetly, they both left.
Antonia thought nothing more of this until Thursday, when Carol came in. “Mandy was so taken with your hair that she insisted on giving me a home perm. Neither of us knew that we imagined each other with curly hair. The only way I would allow a perm was if I were to home perm her hair too, so last night, we cut and permed each others hair.” Carol’s hair had turned out slightly longer than Antonia’s, but obviously just permed. “I must say it does suit you like that Carol,” and by now some of the other girls had started arriving, each slightly ruffled at the sight of Carol’s and Antonia’s curls. One of two actually used their hands over their heavily straightened locks to check their integrity.
Maundy Thursday came around, and Antonia had set her hair the night before so that it was nice and tight for Easter. Not wanting to ruin her set, instead of taking her curlers out before going to work, She placed a headscarf over them. The headscarf did reveal a glimpse of the curlers at the front and at the bottom, and their shape was visible where it had been pulled tight over them. Carol immediately picked up on this. “Perhaps next Friday we can have a “wear your curlers to work day “”. The longhairs at the front of the office dipped their heads down as if pretending not to hear.
Antonia was very pleased with her set for the Easter break, as was Rob, and very soon the next Friday came round. She came in with her hair in her favourite red perm rods, all carefully rolled as neatly and as tightly as she could upwards round the back and sides. Carol came in with a conventional set on peach perm rods, however only a couple of the longhairs joined in. Mary had put some large rollers in the ends of her hair, wound up so they brushed her shoulders. Fiona was more daring and had attempted to put her hair all in medium rollers, a spirited attempt, but a little untidy. At the end of the day, all four of them gathered to take their curlers out before going home. Carol’s and Antonia’s formed perfectly set styles, due to the support of their perms. Mary’s ended in loose waves at the ends of her hair, with Fiona’s somewhere in between, with waves ending in curls at the ends. Although the other longhairs didn’t join in, I noticed that they all checked them out before they went home. Carol kept Antonia back. “The week after next, you know that I am out of the office on a seminar.”
“I might need someone with me. I’d like you to come”
“Some of the other girls have seniority over me”
“They may have seniority, but do they display the right image? I think you look more mature”
Monday morning, Carole announced another “wear your curlers to work Friday”.
On the Thursday, Antonia was just packing up her desk when Fiona came up. “I was looking for some advice on curling my hair for tomorrow”
“Let me ring Rob, perhaps I could come home with you now and show you?”
Fiona beamed, and Antonia followed her to her home, which wasn’t too far out of her way. Fiona quickly washed her hair, and combed some styling mousse through it. Antonia sat with her and showed her how to section the hair about the size of one of her rollers, and how to roll it down smoothly and evenly before fixing it in place. When her hair was nearly all done, her boyfriend arrived home. As Fiona introduced him to Antonia, she saw his eyes widen as he saw her perm. “Gary liked my curls last week, and was keen for me to try it again this week”, Fiona said. Antonia bid her goodbyes and continued home.
Friday came, and surprise, all but 2 of the other girls came in wearing curlers. Unsurprisingly they all wore large rollers in the ends, as Mary had done last week, only Fiona, Carol, and Antonia had full head sets. At the end of the day, Fiona asked Antonia to take her curlers out, so she could see how to dress her hair. “Gary can’t wait to see what it turns out like. He was really taken by your hair. I think he wants me to have a perm too.” They all then compared results before going home.
Antonia was up and dressed early on Monday, her hair stiffly set ready for the trip. She met Carol at the office, and they headed North in her car. Mandy had evidently curler set Carol’s hair tightly too for the trip away. They arrived, met the other delegates, and got down to the first day’s business before going to their hotel. They had a drink with our dinner and after an acceptable time mixing at the bar with some of the other delegates, they returned to their rooms. Antonia had just made a cup of coffee when a knock came at the door. Carol stood there, “Mandy usually curls my hair ready for bed”. She handed across a small bag with her curlers in. Antonia made her a cup of coffee, and she sat by the dressing table as Antonia curled her hair. “Perhaps I could curl your hair for you, I mean, that is if you want me too. I would like to, if that’s alright.” Antonia smiled and after she had put Carol’s hair in curlers, she found her smaller ones and took her place on the stool. “I thought my perm was tight, but yours is very tight,” Carol said, “and it goes so well onto the curlers. When I have my next perm, I might go to the same place as you.” Antonia noticed that her hands were shaking as she put her curlers in, and that she couldn’t resist touching and patting at her hair when it had been done. Carol took herself off after she finished her coffee.
The week went fairly quickly, and come Thursday night, Antonia couldn’t help noticing how proficient Carol had become when she put her curlers in. Friday was a short day, to allow time for them to get home. They arrived at the office and Rob was waiting to pick Antonia up. He hadn’t seen Carol for a while and noticed that her long hair had been cut into a perm. He also noticed that Antonia’s had been set exceptionally tight. “Carol did it for me. Just after my hair had been permed, Carol and her girlfriend also had perms, and all this week she had been curling my hair for me at bedtime, and I hers.” she said.
Ready for the holiday
Summer came, and Antonia had been doing well at work, moving up towards the front of the office in seniority. In August, she and Rob were going to Spain. Her hair had grown a bit since her perm, and the question was “what does she do with it”. The hair had grown long enough for Antonia to firstly use larger perm curlers in it and now it was long enough for the smallest rollers. Does she let it grow until it’s long enough to get the old perm cut out, does she have it cut short, or does she have another perm? There was no question, and she had an appointment booked with Susan for the Saturday before their holiday.
The Saturday of the appointment came around quickly, and Antonia rushed to the salon. There was another, older woman already there, and she was just being tucked under the dryer. The smell in the salon indicated that this woman had been permed today too.
Susan got stuck straight in, and after a quick cut, Antonia’s hair was being tightly wound onto the familiar red curlers. Antonia was soon permed and put under the dryer for a bit of heat. Antonia noticed the woman next to her being taken from her dryer to cool just and she came out to be neutralised. The woman was clipped and neckshaved while the neutraliser worked on Antonia’s hair, after which Antonia was set and parked under the dryer again. Susan reverted her attention to the other woman. Her curlers were taken out, into a style not dissimilar to Antonia’s and after she was sprayed, she paid and went.
Antonia was taken out from under the dryer a while after. As she cooled, Susan started neckshaving her hair. Her hair turned out quite well in the end, if anything, the rolls being even more defined than last time
Antonia rushed home, Rob had gone out and wasn’t back yet. She started making a coffee, when she heard the door opening. Rob came in and his jaw dropped when he saw his freshly permed wife. “What’s up, don’t you like me to have my hair permed?”
Rob’s mouth opened. “No, I mean yes, I mean wow, I mean…”
Antonia put a finger on his lips and took his hand. Rob practically launched her into the bedroom. Mr Neanderthal definitely did like his wife freshly permed.
After their holiday, Antonia came back to a surprise at the office. Fiona had secured Susan’s name from Antonia, and the Monday that she came back off holiday she found a freshly permed Fiona beaming and waiting for her. “Gary loves it. I asked her to do it the same as she does yours. I only wish I had had it done years ago.” Both girls kissed each others cheeks, each with a hand on the back of the other’s neck, both thinking “I can feel her bristles where she has been neckshaved”
Some of the other girls started arriving, some had taken to putting a few rollers in the ends of their hair, others staunchly standing by their straighteners. They all looked closely however at the severe curls sported by their 2 workmates. Carol popped her head in shortly after, and patting at her roller set, asked Antonia to look after the office today, there was something she needed to do.
Antonia thought no more of it, until the next day. Mandy brought Carol into the office, and both of them had the shortest severest perms ever. Their hair had been cut to just over an inch long, and pulled onto a load of red perm rods each. “She used a really strong perm lotion, and kept it on for a longer time to make sure it turned out tight” was the answer to the unspoken question. Both of their necklines had been shaved straight across by their ear lobes. Carol said after that she had sought out Susan’s but she closed on Mondays, so they found a really old shop in a back street a couple of villages over. The owner was probably above retirement age, but had this same hairstyle, so had in effect chosen herself. Mandy and Carol had nearly fought about who was going to go first, so they were permed concurrently. The only amendment to the style worn by their hairdresser was when Carol told the woman “My friend gets hers permed upwards round the back and sides. Can you perm ours upwards too please”
As Fiona came up, she fingered the back of her perm seeing how severe Carol’s had been done.
Now into a routine, Antonia’s next perm was for Christmas. Susan had suggested in the Summer that she bring her own curlers in, so instead of taking out the shop ones, she could keep the curlers in until the next day in order to ensure the perm took well. This routine of 3 perms a year was to be the norm for Antonia.
The next perm was to celebrate Rob and Antonia’s first anniversary. This was when things got slightly complicated. There was nothing wrong with the perm, it’s just that the new perm got Rob and Antonia very excited. When Antonia went back for her summer perm, Susan’s first question was “when is it due”
“So you fell pregnant when?”
“”5th March. The day I had my last perm.”
Thursday 19th December, and when Antonia went for her Christmas perm, she took her new daughter to meet Susan. Charlotte was very settled all through the perm process, remaining in Antonia’s arms all through. “Did I ever tell you how I got my name Susan?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Well, the day I was born, Gran was giving Mum a home perm. She had just rinsed her after neutralising the perm when I started coming, so Mum had perm curlers in her hair when I came into this world. Mum’s favourite home perm brand was Toni. So when she was asked my name, it was the first thing she thought of.
Susan carefully took Antonia’s curlers out a nice sprayed her hair
After she was sprayed a second time, Toni settled her bill, and she and Charlotte made their way home. Rob was happy with the tight little permed rolls that Toni now sported.
Things went on through the next year as it had the last, however for Toni’s Christmas perm, Susan had upgraded to electric clippers to edge her clients hair. After her perm was completed, Toni went back over to the styling chair and dipped her head ready for her neckshave. She hadn’t expected the electric feel of the bedplate of the clippers, as they were run up her neck, and her body gave an involuntary shudder. By the time Susan had finished, Toni had experienced a couple more similar experiences. She couldn’t help noticing that Susan had taken the back slightly higher today.
As Toni sat in her car inspecting her new perm, just right, as always, she pondered over the experience when her neck had been shaved. She started the car, and went to Mum’s, where Mum was babysitting Charlotte. Mum, still wearing her curlers from when Toni had done her home perm the evening before, ready for Christmas, complimented her daughter “You really suit a short tight perm like your Gran used to have, I know it’s a dated style but you always keep it nice.
Later that day, Toni put her hair in curlers and she relayed the tale of her experience at the hairdressers earlier to Rob.
Moving on to March, as Toni eagerly awaited her birthday perm, the first thing Susan said, while holding her abdomen was “Again, Toni. When was this one conceived?”
“Um, probably about the 17th December”, Toni replied a little sheepishly.
“You mean the same day as you had your last perm” Susan replied laughingly.