Toni’s Christmas surprise

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1 Christmas


As it got nearer Christmas, Charlie and I got more excited, Charlie with her impending cut and set, and I, not only with the thought of my new perm, but also with the thought that I would be seeing my eldest get her first professional set.


Before they knew it the 22nd December had come upon them. I had relented slightly, and although the twins were not having a short haircut, they too were being set, after a trim. There was no trouble herding my girls into the car, Charlie being unusually quiet, busy thinking about the day. I parked up and led my girls to the salon. The girls were introduced to Susan, and I went over the hairstyle requests.


I was first up, as my process would take longer than anyone else, and after a thorough wash, Susan quickly cut my hair to the required length. Charlie sat watching intently. Susan then started putting the usual red curlers in my hair, the twins being roped in, one to hand Susan a curler upon request, the other a curl paper. Charlie again noted how tightly my hair was being wound on each curler, and the direction and position of the curlers too. Then Susan started perming my hair. The girls realised at this point that it did smell rather unpleasant. I was then parked under her dryer, the heat helping the perm to work. 


Susan turned next to Charlie. Her hair was washed, and Charlie looked mesmerised as her hair was cut down to a similar length and shape as mine. Susan offered to put her hair in either peach curlers, slightly smaller blue curlers, or the very small red curlers that I had been permed on. “The same as Mummy please” Charlie beamed back. The twins came into play again, helping with curl papers and curlers, Susan using copious amounts of setting lotion. When Susan got to the back and sides, she said “I’ve permed your Mummy upwards here, do you want yours set up or under?”  Without even thinking, Charlie shot back with “upwards, the same as Mummy please.”


Before Charlie got to her dryer, I was whisked out from under hers, rinsed and neutralised. Charlie, who had been happily scrutinising her curler set hair, was taken to her dryer.


Susan then washed both the twins’ hair, before returning to rinse mine for a final time. After being smothered in setting lotion, I was returned to her dryer, and as it was next to Charlie’s, I took her hand.


Charlie and I had a grandstand view of the twins in turn, each having a trim to even the ends of their hair up, masses of setting lotion combed through, and then having their hair rolled tightly down onto some small rollers. The twins too were then put under their dryers, one beside me, Meghan beside Charlie. We all had grins on their faces as our hair was drying through. 


Susan at this point took a well-earned break.


After her break, Susan released both Charlie and I from under our dryers to cool before our curlers were taken out.


I was taken to the styling chair, and the girls looked on shocked as Susan produced her electric clippers. Being used to this, I just dipped my head as Susan cleaned the stray hairs from my neck and then my sideburns. Susan swapped her clippers for her straight razor to ensure my hairline was perfectly smooth.


Charlie was next called over. “Would you like a neckshave, the same as your Mum?”  Would she? “Yes please Susan!” I noticed Charlie brace herself as Susan’s clippers and razor were brought into play again. 


At this point, the twins were also removed from their dryers to cool. They were both almost relieved when they worked out that they weren’t being neckshaved today. 


Susan returned to me and carefully removed each curler in turn, my hair forming the “Just permed” effect that I favoured. I was sprayed, and while the first coat was drying, Charlie’s curlers were removed. The excitement was clearly visible as her permlike set slowly emerged. The grin only dimmed slightly when she was sprayed: the spray that fell on her neck stung where she had been shaved.


Then came the twins. The thorough setting today meant that instead of forming waves above their usual curls, their hair stayed in curls all over. After the twins were also sprayed, Susan went over each of them with a second coat.


Susan offered advice: if you want the twins set again, by all means keep the length, but perhaps I could put some layers in, so their sets sat better.


Charlie sat mesmerised, just looking and patting at her new grown up hairstyle, her grin still affixed to her face. “As I’ve only set it, it won’t hold like your Mum’s, and the way I have layered it all over means you will have to keep it set to maintain the style,” Susan said. Charlie was more than happy with this. Her bubble burst slightly, and her face clouded over slightly when I came in with “I hope Dan appreciates his girlfriend with her new grown up hairstyle.”


I slowly herded the girls back to the car, they wanted to stop and check out their reflected images at each passing window. I also found myself checking out my new severe perm, and comparing it with mini-me’s set. “How do you feel with your hair Charlie? Are you happy with it?, is it what you expected?” Charlie gave a broad flash of white teeth. “Oh Mummy, I have really loved this whole thing today. I can’t wait to have it permed properly, like yours. Yours looks so smart, if mine is half as nice as yours, I’d be happy.”


After a short while they got home. Neanderthal Daddy had prepared a late lunch, and was soon overwhelmed by his wife and daughters all trying to show him their new hairstyles all at once.


A little later the doorbell rang, and when I answered it, Dan was there. “Oh, hi Mrs Ball, I, er, I, wow, I think your hair looks really smart. Aah, you look cool with permed hair. Um, is Charlie in?”


Dan was ushered in, and I called through, “Charlie, Dan is here to see you.”

Charlie emerged tentatively from the kitchen, unsure how Dan would react. “I, um, wow, I mean, it’s turned out just like your Mum’s. Did you have it permed too?”

“No it’s just been cut and set. You don’t like it, do you?”

“No, I mean yes, I mean it looks really great.” He tentatively reached out to touch it.


I left the pre teens alone and returned to the kitchen. Charlie followed alone after about 20 minutes, slightly down in the mouth. Dad had gone to the shed, and the Twins had gone to their room to compare hairstyle notes. “I don’t know if Dan liked my hair Mum, he said he did, but then he said all sorts of other stuff that really didn’t make sense.”

I laughed, “Don’t worry, love. Your hair is fine, you will find that he does like it, you should have seen the way he looked at my perm when I answered the door, he just doesn’t know how to put  over what he feels.” I had immediately recognised neanderthal Dan.


Straight after dinner, an expectant Charlie sat in the kitchen chair, actually trembling as I curler set her hair ready for bed. “I can’t believe I’ve got the same style as you Mummy. I’m really enjoying having my hair this tight.” I realised that I had been curling my daughters hair painfully tight. I playfully drew a finger across my daughter’s shaved neck, watching her involuntary shudder. “Is that too tight for you, love?” I could see a small tear forming in the corner of Charlie’s eye. “Oh, Mummy, I’m so happy having this style. Only another year until I have my first perm.” I patted at mini-me’s freshly set hair, and swapped places. Mini-me then started curling my hair, and succeeding in getting it as tight as her own hair. Charlie had a good pat at my hair before indicating she had finished.

Hannah slid into the just vacated seat. “Me next Charlie. Please.” 

Looking at her hair, I realised that they would need different curlers, so I went off to source some comparable to those used on the twins earlier that day. “Mummy, Meghan and I have been talking. Next time, please can we have ours cut the same as Charlie”

“Perhaps , I  will see. You will need to have it shaved short at the back to get it like mine and Charlies.”


Christmas day soon came and we were entertaining my parents, and Rob’s Mum. Karen was first to arrive, and although the girls and I had washed and dressed early, we still had our hair in curlers. Karen made a fuss of us all, especially intrigued as Charlie’s neckshave was amplified by her curlers. Soon my parents arrived. “Karen, would you mind taking the twins’ curlers out, while Charlie helps me in the kitchen?” Karen was trembling as she undid the twins’ curls. While I held the fort in the kitchen, Mum was allowed to remove Charlie’s curlers, an appreciative audience showing their appreciation of her new set and neckshave. Karen and Charlie then took over the kitchen as I allowed my Mum to reveal my severe Christmas perm.

Charlie was exceptionally pleased with the way her restyle had been received, the twins, however, although pleased with their curlier sets, noticing that their older sister was Centre stage. “Don’t worry girls, you will soon be old enough to have the same style as Charlie, and then a nice perm, exactly like mine”, I said.


In the evening, the twins were flagging. Perhaps Granny Karen would like to put their rollers in ready for bed? “Please can you set my hair too Gran” came from mini-me. Just before they went home, I let my Mum put my curlers back in.


Just after the New year the girls were due back at school. On the Wednesday evening before the Thursday, which was the first day of term, I ensured that the girls hair was thoroughly washed, and then in turn, after combing through setting lotion, I carefully and tightly put their hair in curlers the same size and pattern that Susan used. I was especially careful to ensure the curlers were pulled eye wateringly tight. The twins moaned but accepted it. “We don’t like it so tight, but if it means nice curls Mummy”. Charlie was more receptive, and couldn’t wait to see the outcome when her curlers were removed the next morning. After the girls were done, I then washed my own hair, and was pleasantly surprised when Charlie pulled my hair super tight as she set it for me. 


Thursday morning came, Neanderthal Rob was in full form when he saw the brutal results of his wife’s fresh set. As I removed Charlie’s curlers, I was pleased to see that her daughter’s set almost replicated my own. “Ooh Mummy, it looks just like I’ve been permed too.” The twins were also happy with their own sets as well. I watched the 3 curly heads head off to school, and then took time to check my own perm out before leaving for work. As I passed the girls, I couldn’t help noticing that Charlie seemed to be holding court – her new cut and set was the topic of discussion with all of her local friends.


Bert was on the door as usual. “Your hair looks nice Toni, another new perm?” I smiled, “I can always rely on you to notice Bert, yes thank you.”


Into the office. Fiona also sported a new perm, although not as severe as mine. Mary came in, her waves having become a bit of a fixture, “Your hair looks nice girls, new perms for Christmas?”

Fiona and I smiled back.


Mid morning, Carole appeared and called me to her office. The managers needed a new dedicated secretary and thought that I looked just right for the part. Didn’t they want anyone with more experience, or with a trendy, long hairstyle. No, I always kept my hair smart, so I was the person for the job. 


There was some pushback when my promotion was announced, but an office was found for me next to Carole’s.  A few of the managers came through and, having complimented me on my dress sense, they also specifically added that they liked the way I kept my hair tidy. There was a veiled reference here to “wear your curlers to work Friday”, so I broached it. “Oh, no, that wouldn’t do at all. We expect you to keep your hair professional at all times” There was to be an allowance for me to maintain my hairstyle.


When I got in from work, Rob had already arrived to be with the girls, and he had started dinner. The girls were creating a terrific noise, their sets had gone down particularly well, especially Charlie’s. Charlie had already started putting the twins’ hair in curlers ready for bedtime. “Mum, Dan is coming over after dinner to talk through our homework for the new term, could you put my curlers in for me please? It would be great if it were quite tight please.


Charlie didn’t need too much encouragement to return the favour for me, and when the door went, I couldn’t resist beating Charlie to it to see Dan’s reaction to my set hair. The poor lad was beside himself. He was obviously tongue tied at the thought of Charlie being curlered, and when he saw my extremely tight set, he was speechless. Charlie rescued him, “come on through Dan,” although the sight of her curlers heading for the dining room probably didn’t help. This allowed me to talk through my work news with Rob, the twins having taken themselves off to play before bedtime. 


Just as Dan was getting ready to go, the twins rematerialised, and the poor lad nearly lost it upon the sight of the girls and I all in curlers. He kissed us all on the cheek as he said goodbye, and I couldn’t help notice that he had a crafty feel of all of our heads as he did so.


2 Easter


As spring approached, I looked forward to my usual cut and perm to celebrate my birthday. My hair had grown, and I had progressed up through slightly larger blue curlers, then pink curlers. Charlie and my hair was still slightly too short for rollers, although if we had pulled them in very tightly, they probably would have gone. Did Charlie want hers cut and set too? Did the twins want theirs trimmed and set too? The answer to both was “Yes please Mummy”. Nasty Mummy declined the twins request this time for the twins to have their hair layered. 


I took us all to Susan’s, as I had last time. The girls were all aware of the sequence of events, and the twins had already got themselves ready to feed Susan with curl papers and curlers upon request.


Soon all four of us were lined up under the dryers, as we had been before. The beams on the girls’ faces were bigger than before, if that could be possible. As before, we were all happy with the results, as was Rob when we got in. “As Centre Parcs went well last year, I thought we could do it this year as well.” He had spoken to Dan’s parents during the day, to see if Dan was ok to come, and to his surprise, they not only agreed, but suggested getting a larger cabin so they could come too. Dan relayed this information to Charlie, who was beside herself. Dan came to the door shortly after, under the pretense of confirming what Rob had imparted, but actually to check out Charlie’s new cut and curler set. He caught sight of me as he was taken through to the kitchen. “Oh wow Mrs Ball, your hair looks really cool like that, I can’t wait for Charlie to be old enough to have a perm the same as yours. I’m not saying her hair isn’t cool, but it just finishes it.”


Over the Easter period, as the girls were not in school, it was a good excuse for me to make them keep their hair in curlers for several days at a time, not that they needed any encouragement. We even spent the Easter Sunday over at Mum’s, all with our curlers in. I had helped Mum with her home perm on the Thursday before, and as she still had her curlers in when we arrived, she elected to keep them in also instead of taking them out.


This term went by so quickly, and soon the Summer came around. We weren’t going away until August, so my Summer perm was booked for a couple of days before we were going. The evening before my perm, Mum had asked me to help home perm her hair, and I took Charlie with me. Knowing how well she curled my hair, I had asked her to help curl her Gran’s. Gran was delighted by this. She had made a good job, and all I had to do, apart from trimming a few loose long hairs, was to actually apply the perm lotion. I couldn’t help notice how intently mini-me was watching what I was doing.


As before, I took the girls with me to Susan’s. Charlie was still restricted to a cut and set, but I did relent with the twins, who had their hair layered before being set, but keeping the length in their hair. I had told Susan about our trip, and to ensure that my perm stayed fresh, I negotiated for her to keep the perm lotion on a few minutes longer to make sure it took well. We all were pleased with the results, as usual, especially the twins, whose hair seemed more fuller due to the layers put in.


Saturday morning came, and as before, we travelled down with our curlers still in. We had started setting up when John and Janet arrived with Dan. Janet looked horrified at my hair. “It’s my Summer perm. Have you ever had a perm Janet?” Janet hadn’t. She had always had long straight hair, just going a little shorter as Dan got older. Charlie butted in then “Mummy, I have brought my old rollers, which I shan’t be using, as my hair has just been cut. We could curl Dan’s Mum’s hair so she isn’t left out.” Janet and John were taken aback at this, but Dan dived in “Why not try it Mum. It would be nice to see you with curly hair.”


After dinner, Janet quickly wet her hair, and Charlie was allowed the honours of putting Janet’s hair in rollers ready for bed, using setting lotion to maintain the style. Janet was a little uncomfortable, but accepted the situation.


The next morning came, and after breakfast Janet, the girls and I took our curlers out. Charlie had quickly removed her own and the twins, being used to the routine, and then helped Janet. Janet’s hair formed soft rolls at the ends of her hair, which bounced on her shoulders, much as Charlie and the twins’ hair looked when I first curled them. The twins were much curlier, with their layers, Charlie’s was very tight. My own set was extremely severe, my scalp visible in a grid pattern where it had been permed. “I got Susan to leave the perm on longer this time, so my hair would hold while we are away. Our hair got the thumbs up from John, Dan and Rob.

Although Janet seemed uncomfortable with wearing rollers, she seemed to like the bounciness within her hair and Charlie’s rollers were used every day we were away.


After the holidays, things more or less returned to normal. Janet had sourced some rollers of her own, and with Charlie’s help on occasion, was wearing her hair styled on rollers.


As we approached November, I had a plea from Mum, could I perm her hair on the Last Thursday of the month, as she had a big function on the Saturday. Of course I could. I had Charlie and I booked in for our perms mid to end of December, and I could see that she was getting more excited as time went on. As the twins were pressing for perms the same as their big sister, and I was continually knocking them back, I had agreed that I would ask Susan to cut their hair short and layered, in the same way that Charlie’s had been done.


Soon the last Thursday in November arrived, and unfortunately there was a flap at work: I would need to stay late to help resolve it. I called Mum to say I would be late, but not to worry, I would see that her hair was permed ready for the Saturday. I got in about 8.30 from work, having called Rob to say I would be in and out quickly, however the minute I got in the door, my nose was assailed by the smell of home perm lotion. Mum was sat in the kitchen, her hair in curlers, and obviously in the process of being permed. “When you said that you’d be late, I thought I would get the first substitute to perm my hair to take the pressure from you.” First substitute? I thought. Then Charlie’s smiling face appeared. “Gran let me perm her hair Mum. I used the small curlers and took my time. I had watched you when you permed Gran’s hair, so I knew what to do.” I looked over at Mum again, and could see that Charlie had really pulled her hair tight, then I noticed that although Mum preferred to curl her hair under, Charlie had put the curlers in upwards, the same way that she and I had our hair done. “Oh no, Charlie, you’ve permed Gran’s hair upwards.” Mum then responded on Charlie’s behalf. “Don’t worry love, I had noticed when she was curling my hair, but as she was making such a good job, I didn’t want to put her off. I shall just have to have a tighter, more old fashioned perm this time.


Dad called over to collect Mum shortly afterwards, Mum was going to keep the curlers in until Saturday so that her perm was fresh. Mum gave Charlie a big kiss and thanked her very much for helping her out.


3 Charlie’s Perm


Soon the Saturday arrived when we would be going to get our hair done. Charlie was unusually quiet, and when I put her in the car, I couldn’t help noticing that she was trembling. “It’s OK love, if you are too scared to have a perm, you don’t have too.” Charlie gave me a weak smile. “No, it’s not that Mum, I’m so excited about having my hair the same as yours. As I have never had a perm before, I just don’t know what to expect.” I squeezed her hand and shut the door. I had already given the twins their pep talk. They knew that by having their hair shorter, their necklines were to be clippered, and then shaved. The fact that they would need to were their hair in curlers overnight, every night was academic as they were doing that anyway. 


We soon arrived at Susan’s, and I led 3 trembling girls into the salon. I was up first, to lead the way, and to allow time for Charlie to compose herself, while the twins performed their usual support role handing curlers and curl papers to Susan as they were wanted. With my hair cut as usual and pulled tightly onto my favoured small red perm rods, I was soon smothered in perm lotion, and parked under my dryer. I had asked for Susan to use a really strong perm this time, both for Charlie and I. Susan indicated that she would leave the perm on for slightly longer to make sure it really worked as well.

From my seat, I had a grandstand view of Charlie’s cut and set. Charlie sat motionless as her was cut and pulled sharply onto the small red curlers, just like Mummy. By the time Susan had finished that part, Charlie had started trembling again, Susan started applying the perm lotion. Charlie’s pupils widened, firstly at the icy coldness as the perm worked its way through her hair, and then at the warmth as the lotion started working. Charlie was parked under the dryer next to me, and I squeezed and held her hand.

My hair was then rinsed, and I was neutralised, and while that was working, Susan started Meghan’s restyle, after first checking that it was to be just like Mummy, but without the perm. Meghan watched in the mirror, wide eyed, as a mountain of hair was removed from her head. She had never had short hair before. Susan started pulling the curlers into Meghan’s hair in the same pattern as Charlie’s and mine. A little voice said “it feels very tight Mummy.” I squeezed her hand as Susan continued. Susan removed Charlie from under her dryer, and rinsed both her and I. Charlie then had her neutraliser put on, while Meghan and I were smothered in setting lotion. 

Meghan and I were put under our dryers, and Hannah then had her hair cut and curled. Susan rinsed Charlie’s hair and then after setting them, Susan put them under their dryers.


After a short while, Meghan and I were taken from beneath our dryers to cool. Susan picked up her clippers and edged my hair at the bottom and sides, then shaved the area with her freshly honed razor. She then turned to Meghan, who jumped as the clipper touched her neck for the first time. “You need to keep still when I shave you, otherwise I might cut you,” Susan explained. When Susan made her first pass with the razor, Meghan cried ” it stings”. I said that she didn’t need to have it shaved if she didn’t want to, but she was adamant that she wanted her hair as near to mine as possible.


Susan then carefully took my curlers out. My hair felt slightly tighter then usual, and I thought there was a slight frizziness to the ends. It was certainly a shade or two lighter than usual. “That will be the strong chemicals in the perm that I used” Susan explained.


Then came Meghan’s turn. Her eyes were like saucers as she watched her set materialise in the mirror. Susan broke off to take Charlie and Hannah from beneath their dryers, before coming back to spray first mine, then Meghan’s, before turning to trim Charlie’s neck hair. A second spray for Meghan and I before Susan then turned to Hannah. Her twin held her hand as Susan shaved her. 


I watched Charlie’s face as her curlers were carefully removed. Her smile got bigger and bigger. I couldn’t help noticing that her hair was lighter in colour too. Charlie had a thorough feel before Susan gave her a first spray. 


Soon we were all out of curlers and sprayed. The twins and Charlie all surprised me by having a few tears, the twins as they didn’t expect the styling to be so harsh, and Charlie as she couldn’t believe she had been permed the same as Mummy.


We paid, and after a slow passage to the car where we all had good feels of our Christmas hair, I drove us back to the village. “I need some meat for dinner.” I parked outside the butchers, and when our turn came, the butcher remarked on Charlie’s hair. She thanked him and said that it was her first perm, and that she had always wanted hair the same as Mummys’. The butcher turned to me. “Your Mummy always had nice hair, she even looks the part if she has her curlers in.” He turned to Bev, his wife, who took the money and worked the deli counter. ” Perhaps you could do something with your hair love?” I had been to school with Bev and she still had long dark red hair that just hung over her shoulders. Bev quailed as she took in the sight of our tortured hairstyles. 


We got outside, and Charlie hissed at me “Mummy! I saw you looking at the butcher.” Naughty Mummy with the nice perm thought to herself ” Oh dear, I seem to have forgotten to get meat for tomorrow’s dinner. I will have to come back again”


We soon got home. Rob was waiting in the hall. “What do you think love, I got Susan to use a stronger perm so that it is slightly tighter and more long lasting. You don’t like it do you?” Rob replied in a series of guttural grunts “Yes, I mean no, I mean…” Charlie rescued he Dad, at least for a short while. “Look Daddy, my hair has been all permed the same as Mummy. Look how tight my curls are.” This was followed by the twins. “Daddy, Daddy, Mummy wouldn’t let us have perms, but we have had our hair cut so it looks like hers and Charlies.” Rob retreated to the kitchen in a further series of grunts. “Mummy, doesn’t Daddy like our hair?” I smiled as I looked down at the girls. “I think Daddy likes it a lot, he just know what to say.” The twins followed their Dad into the kitchen, talking with each other about their new shorter hairstyle.

The door went and I opened it. I saw Dan’s pupils widened as he caught sight of my new perm. “Do you like my new perm Dan, I’ve had a strong one this time so it’s nice and curly?” Dan was rescued for an instance by Charlie, “Hi Dan, come on in, do you like my perm? I’ve had it done the same as Mum’s.” I heard his intelligible grunts as they went through to the lounge.


After Dan had gone, Charlie came to me. “I Don’t know whether Dan likes my hair Mum, he didn’t really say. He seemed to like it and couldn’t stop looking at it.” I took her hand, and said “don’t worry, like Dad, he just doesn’t know what to say. Let me put your curlers in ready for bed.”

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