Entering the salon was like entering a forbidden world for me. Usually I just went to the local shop which was unisex and bland. This place was very much geared toward women. It was pink and prissy. There were women everywhere with curlers in their hair chatting away, or sitting under dryers reading magazines. It was a busy place, and everyone looked up as we came in.
“Hello Samantha, what can I do for you today, and who’s this lovely young lady with you?”
“Kelly, this is Audrey, Mrs. Manning’s s…daughter.”
“Well how are you Miss Audrey?”
“Fine, thank you,” I mumbled.
“Audrey is my new pupil this year, and she’d going to need a haircut and manicure before school begins.”
“Okay, Katherine will be with you in a minute Audrey.”
I wanted to scream, “My name’s Chris, not Audrey - Chris!” but I just smiled and went over to the waiting area with my mom and Miss Samantha. We sat on the bench for a few minutes, while they flipped through magazines picking out hairstyles.
“Oh this one is darling!”
“How about this one?”
“That’s cute too.”
They passed the magazines between them and showed them to me, but I didn’t care about any of them. They weren’t going to sucker me into this game. When it was time to get my hair cut, the stylist came over and got me and took me to her station. She chatted away with my mom and Miss Samantha and they told her that they wanted her to keep the length.
“Okay, well she’s a little uneven in the front and the back, so we’re going to have to cut off some length so it can even out. It’s so strange the way it’s grown. Was your hair really short before?”
“She decided to cut it with scissors last year, and it’s now just growing out.”
“Lots of little girls do that. They look like boys for a while afterward.”
I panicked for a second. Did she know? Was she trying to tell me something?
“We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Aren’t we sweetie?”
“Aw, she’s a little cutie,” said the hairdresser, “We’ll make sure you look really pretty for your first day of school.”
The three ladies talked as my hair was washed, cut and styled. When she was finished I looked in the mirror to see that she had formed it into a very stylish bob. I couldn’t believe it. If I saw this girl on the street, I would think she was pretty. As she pulled back the cape, and I saw myself in my tube top and shorts, I just stared with my mouth almost hanging open.
“Well, what do you think?”
“I think she likes it.”
“Oh my, she looks so cute!” my mom said as surprised as I was.
“What do you say to Katherine?”
“Thank you Katherine,” I ran my hand gently over my hair in disbelief.
“You’re welcome sweetie. You’ll knock ‘em dead this year. I think Kelly is ready for you next.”
It was time for my manicure, and I walked over to her little table.
The lady looked at my fingernails and said, “Oh my honey, these are a little dirty. Let’s take a look at your toes,” I showed them to her, “Oh my, we really have some work to do on those. You’re going to need to learn to take care of your nails if you want to keep them pretty.”
“That’s why she’s here. Make sure she knows what a young lady should do to her nails each day to keep them nice.”
“Well you don’t seem to bite them, so that’s good. From now on, you’re going to have to file your nails every day. You don’t want them to get too long at your age, but they need a little length to show that you’re a lady. We’re going to put some light yellow nail polish on to match your tube top, and to give your fingers and toes a little slash of color.”
“Would you recommend yellow for her?”
“She should pick colors that go with her outfit. I’d recommend pastels for a young girl.”
When she was finished, I looked at my fingers and toes. They were pretty for a girl, but I wasn’t a girl. I looked down my smooth legs at my sandals and painted toes, and back and my outstretched hands. I really looked like a girl. I felt a weird emotion come over me. I looked so…pretty.
We thanked everyone at the shop, and they all commented on how pretty I looked. I blushed and wanted to get out of there. I never would have admitted if they had asked, but I felt vibrant coming out of that shop, like a very pretty girl.
The day was sunny, and I felt good being out in the sun.
“We have one more place to go to.”
“How about snow cones? I’ve been very good today,” I said brimming with confidence.
“Maybe if you’re good. Do they have any at the mall?”
“The mall? Mom we already went shopping. Haven’t we done enough shopping for a while?”
“Honey, there’s no such thing as too much shopping for a girl. Besides, you’re going to need some beauty products to keep your hair and nails pretty from now on.”
I felt myself sink a little when she mentioned that. I thought this was just a onetime thing, but soon realized I was going to be painting my nails and doing my hair like this all year long. After a little drive where the ladies kept telling me how pretty I looked, and how excited they were for me, we were back walking through the stores. My mom eagerly bought me a whole assortment of beauty products: brushes, a blow dryer, nail files, nail polish remover, and of course several colors of nail polish.
Miss Samantha had me try on a yellow headband.
“Oh doesn’t she look adorable in this with her new haircut? I’m buying her a set of these. One for every outfit,” she gathered them up in her hand.
“You know, I’ve been thinking that something’s missing, and now I know what it is,” my mom talked like she was solving a great mystery, “She needs some jewelry.”
My head spun around.
“Mom, I’m not wearing jewelry.”
“What was that young lady?”
“I don’t want to wear jewelry.”
“Honey, it will really bring your outfit together. Look at these bracelets. Oh they’re adorable. And these…they’re perfect.”
The next thing I knew, I had bracelets, pendant necklaces rings and a jewelry box to put everything in.
Just as I thought the horror was almost over, I saw her glance at the earrings.
“Is he too young?” she looked at Miss Samantha.
“It’s your decision. I had mine done around her age. I think pierced ears would really pull everything together, but really it’s up to you. There’s no going back with pierced ears.”
I couldn’t believe what they were contemplating.
“It would be so darling. It isn’t too much?”
“I’m sure every girl her age has pierced ears. You know how little girls are when you’re not one of them.”
“Okay,” I saw a wild, impulsive look in her eye, “Let’s do it!”
“Mom, no,” she didn’t hear me and started signaling the lady behind the desk, “Mom, I said, ‘No!’”
She turned around and her excited mood turned to anger. Her hand squeezed mine hard.
“Don’t you ever tell me ‘no’. I’m your mother, and I’ll say what you’re going to do or not. How about you go back to your sissy dresses again? Or how about I take your pants down right here and discipline you in the store in front of everyone?”
Her eyes had a mad look, and I knew better than to challenge her. This was something she really wanted, and any attempt I put up to deny it would be feeble at the most. I acquiesced as the lady approached and looked benignly at our little squabble.
“May I help you?”
“She wants her ears pierced.”
“Oh my, that’s wonderful honey. You’ll be so pretty.”
“She’s just a little scared.”
“It only hurts for a second. Now you can choose any of these starter sets for your first pair. You’ll wear them for about 6 weeks, and then you can come pick out some other styles.”
I looked in the case. There were silver and gold earrings. Some were simple like balls or hearts. Some were more sparkly.”
“Those are cubic zirconium, they’re very pretty,” explained the lady.
“She’ll get the hearts. I think those are the cutest to start with. We’ll take the pink CZ too for later.”
“Why aren’t you a lucky girl? Two sets of earrings, and they’re both adorable. Okay, sit up in the chair, this won’t hurt a bit.”
I sat in the chair dreading my fate. I heard two blasts of air, and when she showed me the mirror, tears were running down my face.
“Aw honey, it won’t hurt anymore. Look, you look beautiful. You’re going to be the prettiest girl at school this year.”
She didn’t realize that her words weren’t helping, and the tears continued to flow.