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1 Haircut

Mary was walking along the road towards Mavis hair fashions, about a 15 to 20 minute walk. She had never known another hairdresser, and indeed, her Mum had started going there when she was Mary’s age, and when it was run by Mavis’ Mum.

Mary’s dirty blonde hair was pulled back into a rough pony tail, the untidy ends betraying the fact that Mary was an infrequent visitor to Mavis’. Mary opened the door to the dingy salon, with its grubby net curtains, faded paintwork. The smells of shampoos, sprays and perm lotion assailed her nose. As she waited for Mavis to come free, she had a grandstand view of Mavis winding her previous customer in perm rods, before smothering the older lady in perm lotion. After the old girl was positioned under the dryer, Mavis properly greeted Mary and washed her hair thoroughly. ‘What are we doing today young lady? Trimmed at the ends?”
“Cut straight round by your shoulders as usual?”
“I noticed you watching me finish Mrs Hammonds perm. Perhaps a nice perm would give you more styling options?”
“You mean you would like a nice short curly perm, the same as Mrs Hammonds?”
“Yes, I mean no, I mean I don’t know. I’ve had the same hair all my life. I hadn’t thought about a perm until you suggested it. I mean, what could happen, I could always cut it off and start again. Yes please Mavis. Perm my hair the same as Mrs Hammond.”
“You know it’s very short and really tight. I use ever such a strong perm on her.”
“Yes. Let’s do this”

Mavis combed up a tress at the front of Mary’s hair and cut it down to 2 inches long, swiftly followed by the next tress. Mary’s eyes widened and stared. She hadn’t reckoned on such a severe cut. Mavis continued until all of Mary’s hair was about the same length all over. Mavis broke off to move Mrs Hammond onto the next stage in the process of her perm. After this, she wheeled over a cart containing various curlers and rollers, and pronounced that she would be using the small red ones today to ensure Mary’s perm took well. There was instruction about how to look after her perm. Most ladies prefer to sleep with their hair in curlers so it keeps the style. When it grows out a bit, it should be long enough to go on half inch rollers. You will need to get some if you don’t already have them. Curlers and rollers, I mean.”

Then Mavis sectioned Mary’s Hair off, and after forming a strip front to back, she started winding Mary’s hair in the red curlers. Mary’s eyes popped again at the tautness of the curlers. As Mavis got to the back, she announced that she would be curling Mary’s hair upwards. It would be an old fashioned style, but would define the perm better. Then Mavis sectioned each side off, at right angles to the original line, and started winding there. Before long, all of Mary’s hair was in curlers. Mary turned her head to inspect the unfamiliar sight of her hair in curlers while Mavis prepared the perm solution. The perm lotion was squeezed over Mary’s hair and once covered, she was moved under a drier, just down from Mrs Hammond, to give some heat for the perm to work. The perm lotion was very smelly, and felt cold to start, but soon started warming up as the chemicals worked on Mary’s hair.
Mary sat under the drier, and felt drowsy under the heat, as she watched Mrs Hammond have yet another rinse, and her hair coated with setting lotion. Mrs Hammond was the returned to her drier.

Mary was then retrieved and her own hair was rinsed before being neutralised. Further spell under the drier before a final rinse and being smothered in setting lotion, as she had seen Mrs Hammond being done. Back under the drier, the setting lotion smelling more sweeter meant Mary started to relax and close her eyes. She was startled when Mavis shook her “come on sleepy head, time to finish your hair off, you should be dry by now.” Mary noticed that Mrs Hammond must have been completed, as she was no longer in the salon. Mary was sat quietly to allow her hair to cool, and after about quarter of an hour, Mavis started gently removing the curlers, so as not to disturb the perfect lines of impossibly tight rolls. Mary again looked at her head from front and sides while Mavis prepared the next stage. Mary’s eyes popped again as Mavis appeared with a pair of clippers. “I thought those things were for men’s hair.”
Mavis smiled. “How do you think I get nice neat lines at the back and sides of my customers hair?” She clicked the machine on and started cleaning Mary’s neck. Mary’s heart pounded in her chest as she imagined herself being sheared short the same as Dad and Steve, her boyfriend had their hair, however she was pleased when Mavis eventually put her clippers down. More eye popping as Mavis produced a cup with shaving soap in and proceed to dab the soap on the just clipped areas. Mary sat stock still, holding her breath as the old lady removed the soap with a straight edge razor, which had just been honed on leather strop hanging at the end of the worktop. Mavis then produced some hairspray and coated Mary’s new perm thoroughly. “Shit, that really stings where she has shaved me” thought Mary. A second coat, and Mary was declared done. Mary paid her bill, which was less than she had imagined it would have been and stepped outside the salon.

In the fresh air, she stood outside the salon and looked at her reflection in the window. It looked like someone had swapped her hair for an old ladies hairstyle. Tentatively she put a hand up to feel her new style, and was surprised how springy the newly permed rolls were. She found her way to the nearest chemist and went inside. A young girl with long straight bottle blond hair stared at her. “I need some curlers and rollers please.”
The girl excused herself, and said I need to find Sonia. Sonia appeared from round the back, a woman of around Mum’s age, but sporting the same style as Mary. “Aah, someone has just come from Mavis’. I know, I ought to be able to recognise that style anywhere.” Sonia guided Mary to where the hair styling accessories were kept and gave a little guidance. “Start with the curlers, until your hair has grown out a bit. Use them every night to make sure your style stays in. Do not wash your hair for 3 days, otherwise you will wash away your lovely new perm.”

After leaving the shop, Mary reflected on the phrase lovely new perm, and slowly made her way home, continuing to let her hands inspect her new hairstyle.

2 Getting home

Mary let herself in the back door and went into the kitchen. Dad was there making a coffee. “Oh wow, look at my little girl all grown up wearing a proper womans hairstyle. It looks lovely, and it really suits you like that.” Dad came over and kissed her, taking every opportunity to have a feel of his daughters new perm, his fingers lingering on her freshly shaved neck. “What happened love?” Mary felt herself welling up at the thought of her morning experience. “I don’t know really Dad. I had gone for a trim. Even I knew it needed something doing to it. Mavis started talking about how I wanted my hair, and said something about a perm holding a style. I agreed, and next thing I know, here I am, all tightly permed and neckshaved. I don’t know what Mum will say.” Mum had always had her own hair the same style that Mary had worn until this morning. “Well as I said, I think you look lovely with your hair like that. I have often wanted Mum to do something different with her hair. Perhaps she will follow your lead, and get her hair permed too.”

Dad and Mary sat down with a cup of tea, when Mum came back from the shops. “Oh my god Mary, what have you done to all of your hair. It is so short, and if I didn’t know better, I would say you have been permed.”
Mary patted at her fresh perm defensively. “It is a perm Mum, and a short tight one at that. Mavis said that I could have it done every 3 months if I wanted to.” Dad then also put his view forward. “I think Mary’s Hair looks very nice, you never know, perhaps you would look as good if you got your hair permed.” Mum was horrified and reddened and went upstairs.

After half an hour, when she had finished her tea, Mary went to find Mum. She was in the bathroom dabbing at red eyes. Mum hugged Mary, and burst into tears again. “Look at your poor hair, love, it is so short, they have permed it so tightly, and I can feel your neck hair is all bristly.” Mum had moved her hands up into Mary’s Hair, and was having a good feel as she held her. “It is shorter than I expected Mum, and I hadn’t planned on having a perm, I just got sort of talked into it. Saying that, it is very nice, all springy and curly.” Mum stepped back and had a further feel at her daughter’s hair. “I suppose it is. It’s just that it is so old fashioned. What did Steve say about your perm?” Mary’s face fell. She had forgotten completely about Steve. He had been encouraging her to grow her hair longer.
“I don’t know what Steve will think, I suppose I will find out later when he picks me up tonight. It will be alright, if Dad’s reaction is anything to go by. He is very supportive about my perm, and seems to want you to have one too.” Mum’s face clouded over. “Your Gran made me have a perm when I was twelve. I hated it, having it done, and wearing it. It didn’t help that I am Shirley, and all the children at school called me Shirley Temple. It was nowhere near as short and tight as yours is, and I got so worried when your Dad suggested me having a perm, especially an old lady perm like yours.” It was now Mary’s turn to look worried, and she let her hands have a good feel of her new curls. “Mary, I didn’t mean you looked like an old lady, it’s just the style. It’s the sort of thing that older ladies have, that’s all. I must admit it does suit you.” Still having a good feel at her structured rolls that my hair had been formed into. “Why don’t you consider going curly like me. Talking of which, I need to put it in curlers for bed tonight. I don’t suppose you would mind helping me?” Mum grinned and nodded, and I went off to get changed for my date.

3 Steve

The doorbell went at 7, and Mum let Steve in.
Mary shouted down from upstairs “I won’t be a minute.” When Mary came into the lounge, Steve’s jaw just fell. “You hair. You’ve had all your lovely long hair cut off” Mary’s face clouded over. “You don’t like my new perm? Look how curly I’ve had it done.” Steve didn’t answer.

They went to the cinema, but Steve was quite cool. When challenged, it was apparent that he preferred longer hair in a girl.

Mary was dropped off. No goodnight kiss, just a peck. She went inside.

Mum was waiting, “did you have a nice night, love?” Already suspecting the answer, she went on, “does Steve not like your perm, love?”

Mary dissolved in tears. “He wants my hair long and straight. It will take ages to grow my hair like that, and anyway, I am getting to like having curls. I shan’t see him now until next Saturday.” Mum consoled her daughter, and after a few minutes, Mum started helping Mary put her hair in curlers. They were both surprised how the perm made it easier to curl the hair up.

4 Wednesday

Mary came in from work. Her colleagues had been surprised by her new hairstyle, but most agreed that curls suited Mary. Tonight Mary was going to wash and set her hair for the first time since she had had it permed. Mum was keen to help Mary, and the got straight into the job in hand after tea. After being washed, Mary’s Hair sprung back very nearly into the way it had been left after the perm, and using probably too much setting lotion, Mum helped Mary wind each tress in turn onto the small red curlers. “Your hair is going in quite well love. I thought it may have been harder than this.” Mary had been holding a mirror in one hand, passing the curlers with another. Her third hand held the setting lotion, while her fourth checked the progress and integrity of the curlers. “Thanks very much for helping me Mum, I couldn’t have managed it on my own yet. I need some more practice yet.”

Mum paused, looked thoughtful. “You might be getting a bit more practice after Saturday.”
Mary looked quizzically. “I know you have booked in with Mavis to get your hair set on Saturday, so after a bit of prompting from Dad, I phoned her yesterday. She will be cutting and perming my hair Saturday, the same style as yours.” Mary was aghast. She hugged Mum, and went to bed.

5 Mum’s perm.

Mum and Mary walked up to Mavis salon, and as they were the first customers there, Mavis started by thoroughly washing Mum’s hair. Mary held her Mum’s hand as her hair was taken down to the same 2 inches all over as Mary had been. Mavis started curling Mum’s hair down, nice and tight, and by now Mary was helping by passing Mavis the red curlers, and curl papers on demand. “Right Shirley, let’s make you nice and curly too.” Mavis diligently applied the perm lotion to Mum’s head. Mum was whisked away to the driers, while Mary prepared herself for her wash. “H’mm, you have looked after your perm well Mary. It shows that you have curled it regularly to help maintain the style.” Mavis started winding Mary’s Hair on the same small red curlers, but broke off in order for her to rinse and neutralise Mum’s perm. All of Mary’s Hair was in curlers by the time Mum was ready for rinsing and setting, so they were both put under the dryer in quick succession for their sets to dry.

Mary held Mum’s hand as they sat there, and after a long while Mary was released from under her drier to cool, with Mum following ten minutes after. They both had plenty of time to review their curlered heads. Mavis reappeared and started carefully removing Mary’s curlers as Mum looked on. Mum’s face dropped as the chromed electric clippers appeared, although Mary knew what to expect now. A close neck shave followed, and then it was Mum’s turn. Mary helped Mavis by collecting Mum’s curlers as they were removed, and held Mum’s hand as the clippers were brought into play, followed by the razor.
Mary and her Mum were then able to look and feel their freshly done hair. Mum seemed unsure, “I’m not used to having it so short.” Mary felt at her Mum’s hair. “It looks really nice at the back, so curly, it really suits you Mum. Less Shirley Temple, more curly Shirley. You can see the pattern where the curlers have been, and a definite line where you have been neck shaved” Mum looked wistfully in the mirror, and Mavis added in “I have tried to do it the same way as yours. From the back, you could be twins.”

Mary and Shirley left the salon and made their way home, each with a hand and the back of their hair surveying their curls.

When they got home Dad was in the kitchen, obviously on tenterhooks awaiting their return. “Oh Shirley, I can’t believe how wonderfully tight you have had your hair permed. It looks really nice, and it really suits you all short and curly like that.” Dad had a good feel of Shirley’s new perm. “Yours looks really nice too Mary,” he added as an afterthought.

Mary went to get ready to meet Steve at the cinema, leaving Mum and Dad in the kitchen, Dad very keen to explore Shirley’s new perm further.

After tea, Mary left them in the lounge, and walked the 15 minutes to the Odeon. Steve was already there. “You’ve had your hair cut again, how long will it take you to grow it long if you keep having it cut?” Shirley tried to explain that she had only had a neckshave, and seeing that she was getting nowhere, the conversation got a bit heated, so Steve stormed off, and a shaken Mary headed over the road for a calming drink. Close encounters was obviously not happening tonight.

One response to “Mary

  1. An image is burnt into some braincells and couldn’t be removed, or hardly removed but it would take time …. So steve might be gone for good and mary are able for a new start, a new part of her life ….. just the soul is the importance not the surface and finding a lovely empathetic cute girl isn’t a easy task ….. But life is not pure sunshine, there are enough stones on the path like a bubble perm …..
    Lovely tale

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