Ellie and Tommy loved to go visit their grandmother. She was a traditional woman in some senses and expected her grandchildren to be to respect her beliefs as she tried to theirs.When they told her that they didn’t want to go to church every Sunday, she would sigh and try to see from their point of view.
But one thing she wouldn’t compromise on was hair, the children always had their hair done by the old woman.They knew her deal and tried their best to see through her eyes. She would take them to her beauty parlor and give them haircuts she tailored for them.Ellie cut her chocolate hair cut up into a long bob with straight bangs and Tommy had his already short hair buzzed down into a flattop haircut. The children would force themselves to smile as to not disappoint their gran.
Well, this trip was different;Tommy had graduated and off to college.Ellie was driven by her mother up to the her grandmother’s place and dropped off. The old woman was very happy to see her granddaughter and told her everything she had seen during her absence.
They didn’t go to the beauty parlor that day, it usually took the grandmother two days to get to that part.
In the morning, the next day, Ellie went downstairs in her nightgown that grandmother had bought for her. She saw her grandmother cooking but something was weird.Her gran usually hummed while she cooked or baked but here, only the chimes on the porch was the only noise.
”Gram?”Ellie asked,”Are you okay”
The woman tilted her head up and smiled,”I quite fine, Tommy.Say, why are you wearing your sister’s nightgown?”
Ellie was confused,”I’m not Tom-“
Her grandmother cut her off with a hearty laugh,”You crazy kids.Always wearing each other’s pajamas.Come and sit, breakfast’s ready”
Her granddaughter sat down at the table as the grandmother put a pancake and eggs on a plate for her. The food smelled good but the girl ate slowly as to try to find out what was wrong with her elder. She didn’t make any food for herself, saying she already ate which was weird because grandma woke up just five minutes before Ellie did.
”Say, Tommy”,her grandmother asked,”Your hair is so long.When was the last time you had your hair cut?”
”I’m not Tommy”,Ellie repeated.
”Listen, young man”,her grandmother replied sternly,”I know you don’t want to have your hair cut but it’s way too long.You’re a man not a hobo”
Ellie tried to explain to her elder that she was a girl but the old woman was adamant that the child before her was her grandson.The girl decided a plan B, she wore Tommy’s clothes, which was a bit too big, to show her gran that she was, in fact, a girl.But seeing Ellie in boy’s clothes only strengthened the grandmother’s belief that she was Tommy.
So, as Tommy, Ellie was forced to go to the beauty parlor.Her grandmother held onto her granddaughter’s arm like she would do to Tommy.When they came to the shop, Ellie shallowed as she knew what was to come.
”Now, come along sonny”,she said with a hint of laughter,”Let’s get you cleaned up”
Ellie tried one last effort, she said,”Gram, I kinda want to try a new hairstyle. Can you give me a pompadour”
”And make you look like a delinquent”,she eyed Ellie,”Absolutely not. Come, sit”
With nothing else to stall her with, Ellie slowly came to the chair and sat in it. Her grandmother flung a brown cape over her torso and held her hair up to fasten it.
Hair down, Ellie looked at herself in the mirror; this would be last time that she would have long hair. The barber lady got straight to work, using long, sharp shears to cut much of the length off.She didn’t look at herself but Ellie forced herself to, it was all about ear level and more was being down.
Gran discarded the shears for the clippers she hung on a hook on the wall. She tilted Ellie’s head down and started up the clippers, pushing them up the girl’s head.Ellie watched as a lot of her hair was caught on the cape.
Ellie’s gram took the back and sides down to a short stubble.With the top, she combed it up and buzzed the amount above the comb’s teeth.From front to back, until it all was flat. She switched off her tool and dusted Ellie, who thought it was over, off.Then she retrieved a towel to tuck into the neck of the cape.
Ellie watched as her grandma got a can of shaving cream and sprayed a dollop into her hand. The elderly hands spread the cream on the young scalp, Ellie shivered at the sensation.Her gran laughed,”Like the cream on your scalp, Tommy?”
Her granddaughter sat still as she unfolded her straight razor and whittled off the white cream.She used the towel to wipe off the excess and a brush to dust the girl off.
The girl was relieved as the cape came off but seeing her hair lying dead on the floor, it brought a tear to her eye.She wiped it away but her gran saw her sadness,”I’m sorry, Tommy. But your a man, you need to look respectable in my house”
Ellie looked to her grandmother, rose from the chair, and hugged her tightly. She whispered in her ear,”Tommy and I will come and help you next time”
Her grandmother looked at her granddaughter in confusion but then her mind granted her a favor, she realized that this girl who sported a flattop haircut was indeed her granddaughter.
”My goodness”, she gasped,”What have I done to you?”
Ellie laughed heartily,”You made me and Tommy match”