Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Georgia Scissorhands

For CJane, a kindred spirit who shares my love for acrylic hair. Thanks for the conversation... it inspired me to write this story.

When I was a baby, I had a tiny body, a tiny little face, and a really big head, the combination looking similar to a bobble-head doll you might see riding in the back window of a car.

Don't believe me?  I offer proof -- my one year old photo.

The large noggin may not have been so noticeable under a thick head of hair, but as you can see, that was not the case.   I was pretty much bald except for a few thin strands of snow white fluff on the top of my head.  It was fine, and grew at a snail's pace, so took about three years to completely cover my head. 

My little sister Hauley, on the other hand, had lots of hair -- gorgeous locks, that I secretly envied. I thought she looked like the Cowardly Lion after his Oz makeover, those curls cascading over his shoulders tied with a big satin bow. Like the lion, my lucky sister wore a bow on a regular basis.

When we played "beauty parlor" with our neighborhood baby-sitters, Hauley was always the desired customer. Our hair stylists spent hours ratting, braiding, and spraying her tresses. I watched as they created dazzling up-dos, and intricate buns. Every now and then one of them would stop and push a few bobby pins into my hair, which instantly fell to the floor. The babysitters would then exchanged the "What should we do" look, which was followed by a shrug as they back to work on my sister and her luscious locks. 

One day after a bad session of beauty parlor, I realized if I didn't take action soon, I would be in high school before I got to wear a pony tail.   In the 60's there weren't any stores that sold hair extensions, or wigs for children, so I had to get creative and come up with something on my own.  I scoured my closet for my white acrylic sweater.  I buttoned it up, put my head through the neck opening, and flipped the body of the sweater so it cascaded down my back. Voila! I had an instant full mane of Sleeping Beauty-like hair. As I gazed at myself in the mirror, I felt ravishing. So ravishing, that I wore my sweater all the time.

Sometimes the sleeves were pigtails. I loved casually flipping them out of my face, or tousling them so they fell behind my back. I’m sure my neighbors wondered what I was doing as they peered through their curtain windows watching me roller skate down the street -- sweater hair blowing in the breeze.

What is that thing on her head ... an unraveled bandage???
Is she pretending she's a nun? 

They were all wrong.
I was just a little girl with a dream.

After a while, my wig began to look a little shabby as the fuzz balls began to pearl. It was my only sweater after all. But I didn’t care, my polyester mane was magic. While my real hair was hiding under my beautiful wig, it grew to my shoulders. It was happening! My hair was getting long! And it was perfect timing too because I was just coming out of the “awkward” phase with a new set of permanent front teeth. Hope was on the horizon. But, just when I had the courage to shed my sweater, something happened that would change my life forever. My mom enrolled in  "beauty school."

Every day come rain or shine, my mom Georgia, walked 3 miles to the Robert Steur School of Beauty in Sugarhouse where she learned how to cut, perm, and dye with expertise. And every night she came home with stained fingers and hair all over her cloths.

One day, during the “cutting” part of the course, Georgia walked through the door holding a mannequin head with long glistening black hair. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She said: This is real hair, from an Asian woman, and tomorrow, I am going to give the mannequin a hair cut. 

Well, that was about the saddest thing I could possibly think of. A poor Asian woman cutting off her hair because she needed money; all for the sake of some beauty school student. I wondered if the Asian woman had resorted to wearing a sweater on her head too. I think I started to cry, because my mom took pity on me, and allowed me to play with the mannequin that night. I brushed and braided that long black waterfall the while thinking: Someday my own hair will be even longer that this! And I will know how to style it because I have experience with sweater hair, and mannequin heads!  I could hardly wait.

A few weeks later, Georgia came home with a new sparkling pair of professional  beauty parlor scissors. She had passed the “cutting” course and the scissors were her reward. Oh boy was she confident. She pulled the scissors out of the black vinyl pouch and without one bit of hesitation in her voice announced: I can make you look just like Twiggy if you let me cut your hair. 

My 9 year old mind started spinning.  Did my mom just say "Twiggy", as in thee Twiggy --  the supermodel of the 60’s, with long skinny legs, a pouty mouth…. and a pixie do? She was gorgeous!  I imagined myself walking around town looking like Twiggy sporting an a-line jumper with white vinyl go-go boots. Never mind that I was only 4 feet tall. I would be the hippest thing to hit Grandview Elementary. I even had the name to pull it off. While most girls in my generation sported names like Pam, or Suzy, my teenager parents, bestowed upon me a name that few people had heard -- Crystal. Very common now, but back then, it was sort of hippy-ish. I never liked it until this moment. Now my name served a purpose. I would be known as  Crystal, the Youngest Supermodel in the World!  My goal of long locks was instantly abandoned for stardom and vinyl boots.

Yes! Yes! I cried.  Let’s do it!! Let’s cut my hair!

We went downstairs to the unfinished basement with its weeping walls and dark spider infested corners. I sat on a stool and there under a dim light bulb hanging from a wire, my mom took her new professional scissors in hand and went to work. She cut, and she cut, and she cut. And when she finished, she handed me a mirror. I looked in the glass, but I did not see Twiggy. In fact, I'd never seen the person staring back at me!   She looked a little like Peter Pan after a bad night of sleep.

Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh ... my mind was panicked. You may not know this, but bed-head Peter Pan hair does not compliment a yield-sign shaped head. I was actually worried that if I went outside looking like this, people might slow down and look both ways!

I had to do something and I had to do it fast. But before I could manage to get off the stool to search for my trusty white sweater, my mom offered a solution. She said in her most professional voice: You know what would be really cute…… if we gave it a perm.  (She called my hair “It”.)

The suggestion of the perm should have been a clue.  Georgia was now in the second quarter of beauty school, and needed practice. But I was 9, and didn’t put two and two together. In my panicked state, curls sounded like a pretty good solution.

Okay, I said.  Let’s perm my hair.

“It” was so short “It” barely fit into the tiny rollers. Even so, it took a few hours to wrap my bobble-head, and the fumes about killed us all. Georgia was new at this remember.

We finished just as the 5 o'clock end-of-work whistle blew in Sugarhouse.  This time when I picked up the mirror,  I recognized the face. My great grandmother Velma was staring back at me! My mom had given me a granny-do!!!

It's true!!!! See for yourself!

It was horri-i-ble! Horrible, like a really bad dream; a murderous nightmare. A victim with a burned perm, hair lying dead on the floor, the smell of chemicals lingering in the air.   And Georgia, scissors in hand, sweeping the evidence into a dust bin.

I should have performed a Citizen’s Arrest right then and there, and stopped another fatality. But instead, I ran upstairs to my room and cried.

Even with my sobs echoing through the heater vents, Georgia Scissorhands managed to lure two more victims into the basement salon with her promises of Twiggy. My poor sister emerged looking like George Washington with a dazed look on her face. Those beautiful long locks, gone. GONE!! And my cousin, cute, clever Brooke… she fell for the Twiggy schpeel too! What was my aunt thinking giving her permission for something like this!!! Oh yes, I remember now.... she was the loyal sidekick of Georgia Scissorhands!

That evening we three victims girls sat grim-faced around our kitchen table resembling an old woman at church who played the organ on Sunday.  The only things missing: ace bandages wrapped around our ankles and hymnals in our hands. Oh, it was just too much. Too much for all of us. And to make matters worse, there were no go-go boots in site, nor were there any on the way. My mom claimed I would trip over myself if I wore boots with heels. So, I got plain black shoes --- corrective shoes to be more precise, because I had pigeon-toed feet!

Oh I was mad I tell you!!! It was Easter time! What nine year old wants to wear black shoes on Easter with an old woman hair-do?  Not Crystal the Youngest Supermodel in the World, that's who!

I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know how bad until I went to school a few days later.  I walked into my 4th grade class and my teacher Mr. Anderson (whom I intended to marry when I grew up) looked at me with shock in his eyes. He was speechless, but his expression communicated exactly what he was thinking:  Who are you old lady, and what have you done with my favorite student!  

My best friend Lori burst out laughing and said:  What happened to you? Did you try to cut your own hair with a knife? I mustered up my full height, all 4 feet of it and said: This is an official Twiggy haircut given to me by my mom -- she’s in beauty school you know! I tried to make it seem like was thrilled with my new look. 

We didn’t speak of it again, but we both knew I didn’t look at thing like a supermodel, and that it was going to take a long time before I looked like Crystal the 4th grader.

I got teased a good long while. Miss Lewis the librarian sympathized and let me come to the library whenever I wanted. I think it was because I looked just like her. Thanks to Georgia Scissorhands, my new best friend was a 70 year-old spinster.

In spite of the Twiggy affair, I did not learn my lesson. Five years later, history repeated itself.

It was the summer before I became a sophomore at Highland High. This time Georgia Scissorhands was a fully fledged beautician working at the House of Sherman in Foothill Village. One day she said: You know…. you should cut your hair before you go to high school. I'm thinking.... Charlie's Angels! 

Anyone who watched TV in the 70's knew about Charlie's Angels! They were the most beautiful women on TV! Who didn't want to look like that???  I would be instantly popular with a cut like Farrah.

You already know what happened next. We went down to the basement salon and Georgia worked her magic -- black magic in this case. I was thinking . . . Farrah Fawcett, but Georgia Scissorhands was thinking: Kate Jackson!

When I looked in the mirror, I had a cow.  Why in the world did Georgia think I would want to look like Kate?    Why, why, why???   (Maybe because Georgia had a red afro at the time, a good indication that she had lost her mind.)

I didn't end up resembling Kate or Farrah. I looked like Crystal, the girl with a Slinky attached to the side of her head.

And now, the irony of this story:

On the first day of high school as my slinky head bobbled down the hall, a girl walked past me with thee cutest short hair. Her name was Shelly.  She was popular and beautiful, but most of all she was nice.   We ended up having a class together, and became fast friends.
One day I mustered up the courage to ask her: I just love your hair, who cuts it??? 

I was secretly hoping to pay the stylist a visit to see if she would fix my Charlie's Angels faux pas. Do you know what Shelly said? 

Georgia at House of Sherman!!

I about choked to death on my cafeteria salad. Georgia Scissorhands????? How could this be? How did I end up looking like a slinky when Shelly looked like a …. a ..... supermodel??????????

I've had years to think it over, and I've come to the conclusion that there is only one answer to that question. It is this:

 The basement hair salon was cursed!


Eve said...

Wren's middle name is Georgia - love that name.

I love this story - you cracked me up. I hope your mom cleared it with your aunt before she hacked and permed Brooke's hair! Can you imagine?

hauleyf said...

first of all Eve, no she didn't get permission to cut and perm Brookes hair. She was very convincing and TOLD us what she was going to do. Second, take a look at the picture again where all 3 of us siblings are together (Crystal Hauley Lane). Don't we look like we work for United Airlines?

R Max said...


I'm gonna be laffin all night after this!

Rachel said...

cute story - you write so well and I loved the pictures to go with each new do!

Britney said...

OH, poor Crystal! There's nothing worse than a botched hair-do. I love your writing! It made me so sad to see the picture when you finally grew hair (so cute and blonde with the straight-across-cut bangs) and then had it chopped off into "twiggy". Oh so sad, but thanks for the laughs :)

David said...

Oh, dear Crystal. I would have died to have your Farrah Fawcett hair!!! I thought you were the most beautiful, little petite thing I had ever seen. Your story is so great. I got some good giggles from it. Your darling mom...... Thanks for the compliment!!
Love, Shelly "supermodel" (ha ha, dont think so)

c jane said...

Once again you have set me up for a real chance to laugh at you (with you) only to be disappointed. You are adorable no matter what. Not even old photos or botched haircuts (slinky head) make you look bad. You are just gorgeous, and it's not funny.

SLP said...

Looooooved this post.
As a child we all recieved the same cut: BOWL CUT.
It wasn't until I was a teenager that I asserted my independence and said I would PAY for my hair to be cut in order to avoid my mothers untrained perms and cuts.