Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wigs Whippin’ in the Wind

Mom had cancer, age 30. As a result of her treatment, she suffered hair loss. While some may sadly and sympathetically offer a syrupy, “What a shame,” Mom saw it as an opportunity to become addicted. She slipped into a parade procession with two friends, Vickie and Rebecca, and became obsessed with expressing herself. It was hairy.

Vickie was a beautician, as they were called, and Rebecca had lovely, bleached, perfectly coiffed locks. The setting was a small Midwestern town in the late sixties: psychedelic mod flowers, miniskirts, wide belts, Simon and Garfunkel, Vietnam, Apollo 13, Mrs. Robinson, valium, and beehives.

Mom’s friends loved to flirt with new hairstyles, and wigs provided them with hours of entertainment. They could be styled and restyled, put on and flung across the room, all without pain.

With her thinning hair, Mom had reason to comb the beach in search of a cover-up, so she purchased a cute human-hair wig. Each time Vickie or Rebecca would buy a new wig, so would Mom. Before long she had amassed a closet full of hairdos—human strands and synthetic. On the top shelf, all neatly posed as if on a catwalk ready for show were Styrofoam heads topped with every style of the sixties. Coupled with my dad’s pistol, it was quite the scare.

Each wig had a personality and, therefore, a name: Martha Washington, Dutch Boy, Dutch Girl, Twiggy, Morticia, Blondie, Elvis. When Mom would rise in the morning to prepare for work, she’d decide who she wanted to be and plop on the appropriate character.

One Saturday on a grocery shopping escapade at the Red Owl, the bag boy and I walked outside while Mom paid the bill. I opened the back door of our station wagon, and he started placing our groceries in the backseat.

Just as Mom stepped out of the store, a big gust of wind blew under Mom’s wig and lifted it off her head, exposing her bobby-pinned thin hair. It flew across the parking lot, under cars, faster and farther away from her. Every time she’d catch up to her wig, the wind would revive and she’d have to start running after it again.

The boy tried his hardest to muffle his laughter, while I watched in amazement as my mom chased her ’do. Exasperated, she finally reached her wig.

Embarrassed and frustrated, instead of laying claim to the dirty hairball and picking it up, she kicked it another ten feet, stomped over to it in a huff, picked up the hair, and walked to the car.

copyright © 2008 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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