Monday, January 08, 2007
Saturday I took my mom to a shop about 30 miles away called "The Wiggery" so that she could check out the latest fashion in hairpieces.
This was our third visit to a wig shop, so before we even got there, I knew how the visit would go: she would be seated a beautician's chair like it was her throne, and the peon hirelings would bring scads of hairpieces and wigs to her, and she would wave them all away with disdain.
In other words, I knew it was an exercise in . . . wasting a Saturday . . . but I'm actually happy to get to spend any time with her--and before I proceed further I need to clearly state for the record that I love her with all my heart.
Now let me back up. Mom is 81. She is about 5'10" with great posture. She dresses well. There are no spill stains down the front my mother. Although she didn't complete her education the way she would have liked to (a little thing called WWII got in the way) she has a regal way about her that seems to elicit respect from whomever she meets. It has always been this way.
Picture Jane Wyman on Falcon Crest:
And although her age is advanced, she is very aware of her appearance and discusses it quite a bit. With me. Because I am her only daughter.
It's true that Mom's hair is thin. It is not that thin, but in her mind she has about three strands of hair that, even if teased and sprayed with enough hairspray to finish a bureau, will without a moment's notice and on a whim just seem to get the vapors and wilt. Unacceptable.
She has been wearing the same hairstyle since at least since 1962, which I know for a fact because here she is holding me, and she looks pretty much the same.
She knows exactly how she wants each strand of hair to lie, how the bangs should swoop, how full the sides should be, the correct length and color. Mind you, when she says, "My hair is terrible today," much of the time it looks exactly like the good days to me. That is because I look at her with normal eyes. She apparently has some kind of filter over her eyes that magnifies any follicle misstep to the nth degree, and it TICKS HER OFF.
I cannot count the times in my childhood when her emotional storms were birthed in front of the medicine cabinet mirror in our tiny bathroom on a Sunday morning before church. Oh sure, she may have said that the kids were driving her nuts or that she didn't know what we would do for dinner or that nobody helped out around the house, but I knew what the source of the maelstrom was: the Hair. The Calamitous Coiffure, the Damnable-Do, the Bad Blight. So, in essence, her hair is and has always been her enemy.
So we pulled up at The Wiggery, a tiny, old, antiquated, dated, old-fangled, moldy sort of shop sitting so far back off the road it looked like the city was trying to hide it from the public.
We both sat there thinking, "This can't be good," but neither of us said anything.
I went in before her, already feeling my guard-dog sensibilities heightened, thinking, "No way are they gonna stick some mouse-eaten ball of nylon fibers on my mother's head and talk her into walking out of here with it. I'll let her look around for about five minutes, and then we're outta here."
Inside was a plain middle aged woman combing out a wig on a featureless styrofoam head. A large, silent man sat in a chrome chair watching a ball game on the corner TV. He looked at us once, and I could see he didn't want us to get between him and the game. And then out came the owner, a 65 year old woman wearing a platinum blonde bobbed wig a la Sandra Dee.
Bless her heart, as my new southern blogging friends often say, it was horrendous. I thought, "Oh no . . . we're not doing this." But my mom was oblivious to the Gidget helmet hair.
So before long, she was in the chair and they were both bringing her their selections. She has light brown hair, and the hairpiece they thought would suit her best was a little oval patch of curly hair that was bright red. They plopped it on her just so that she could see how it would cover her; obviously the color did not match.
It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life--that pitiful little patch of Annie on top of my stately mother's brown head.
She patted her hair under each ear and looked in the hand-held mirror at all angles while both women went on about how great it was. I was biting through my tongue.
So after a few pieces, they convinced her to try on a couple of full wigs, which I'm really surprised she did because she's very picky about sharing personal "goods" of any kind, particularly other people's dust mites.
The first one was, well, high. And thick. She was back peddling on that thing before they even got it smoothed out. The more they did to it, the more she looked like Laura Bush. It was a no-go for her.
I decided to be of "help." I mean, how could she actually see herself and then remember what she looked like . . . unless I took a picture. So I got out my cell phone and began to take pictures. Surprisingly, she did not object.
So it went: Pick a little hair out here, smooth some there, try to please the customer, customer disapproves, daughter snaps picture. Daughter is enjoying this immensely. Daughter knows that Brother/Son will enjoy photos just as much.
My battery ran out. One of the ladies actually went and got her adapter so that I could plug back in and keep on snapping.
The old man thought we were nuts. Whatever.
Finally, they exhausted their offerings, and we left with a cheesy business card and enough blackmail material for me to keep my mom on her toes for quite a while.
We had lunch at Taco Bell, where she was disappointed to find out they do not serve coffee, but not to fear; she had her packet of instant with her. And she cut up her first-ever Grilled-Stuft Burrito in the most lady-like way with a spork.
OK, I've been pretty ornery here, and she might not find everything I've said so funny, so I have to say, as a sort of disclaimer, that I am so proud of my mother and love her so much. Most things in me that are decent and compassionate come from her, and I have always known that she is a "good and perfect gift from above," the first gift given to me from the Father of heavenly lights, as in James 1:17.
I have a feeling we are not finished with our search for the holy grail of spare hair, but that's OK. It's giving us a project to work on together, and it adds a refreshing variation to her favorite conversation topic.
Let the quest continue!