Mary’s Beauty Shop had a door with little bells that tinkled when you walked in. It smelled of perfume and bleach. Wiping her hands on a towel, a big lady with big hair and high heels greeted us. The ones toasting under hair dryers took peeks at my daddy. All of a sudden he didn’t look quite so sure about this. But I was sure. I’d just finished first grade and knew what I wanted. I wanted a Mohawk.
Daddy gave a feeble smile to the big-haired lady, “We have an appointment. We’re a little early…”
“Let me see…Mister uh Smith, is it?”
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Mary. And what are we doing today?”
Four grown up eyes turned towards me and all of a sudden I wasn’t so sure about this. Late June, every year my grandpa put a high chair out on the lawn and oiled up his clippers to give the boys their Mohawks. They ran wild in the hills all summer, bringing home bugs and lizards, bruises and scrapes, and tales, lots of tall tales. Yeah, I wanted a Mohawk.
“Cat got your tongue? Well, let’s just see what we have here. Climb up, sweetheart.” She spun me around to face her wall mirror and started fingering the rat’s nest at the nape of my neck. “Well, I’ll need comb this out…” She looked at daddy, “Don’t you have errands to run?” I gasped, but daddy didn’t let me down, “No…no, I’ll stay here.” He picked up a fashion magazine and pretended interest while she started pulling apart the nest with her fingers. I tolerated this for a while. “Use your words” had not yet replaced the maxim of our household, “children are to be seen but not heard.” Still, I had to ask, “Could you just cut it out?”
“Oh honey!” She gushed, “that would leave a big hole in your pretty hair.”
She pulled out the dreaded comb and started tugging. I leaked a few tears and daddy erupted, “Oh for crying out loud! Just cut the thing off.”
“Well, sir, I can’t just cut it off. But I can give her a nice pixie cut if you’ll give me some time.”
We had all the time in the world. Mommy was sick in bed and the boys were at baseball practice. Daddy turned to me,
“What say, Loo Loo, how about a nice pixie cut?”
I didn’t even look at him.
“Yes, sweetie, you just wait here and we’ll get your daddy a cup of coffee and…”
“Wait, ma’ am, my little girl just wants her hair short for the summer. It’s going to be hot and all. Don’t you have clippers somewhere around here?”
He was out of his depth trying to tell her about hair equipment.
“Sir, I can’t use clippers it’ll leave her hair way too short. Just give me 30 minutes and I’ll have these tangles gone.”
Tangles. She’ll get him confused.
But Daddy stood firm and came right out with it. “Look, my little girl wants a Mohawk.
“ A Mohawk. You know – buzz the sides and leave a band at the top. You DO know how to do a Mohawk. Don’t you?”
He had her.
“Of course, I know how to do a Mohawk Mr. Smith…Are you sure about this?”
There would be hell to pay when Mommy saw it, and the aunts would whisper all summer about how awful it was. But I didn’t care. With that “yeah” he set me up for the best summer ever. The boys and I would nearly burn down the hay barn; I would get my first stitches; and I would come this close to a rattlesnake! But I didn’t tell them about that.