At age 92, my grandmother’s white hair grows faster than a celebrity can get extensions. She likes to shop for new clothes, but lately her style is something akin to the J.C. Penney version of Garanimals; matching shirts and pants with embroidered butterflies or hummingbirds. Her favorite pastimes are exchanging the new clothes for newer ones and getting her hair cut frequently. She loves for me to drive her to the store and salon, then out for lunch.
When she moved near me, she made a list of every salon in town. One-by-one she visited each of them for a hair cut, crossing them off her list with notes like: “made my ears show” or “left it too long in front” or “uneven on the sides.” Thirteen salons later, she outlived the list and started over, that’s when she started getting her reputation as a “salon hopper.”
She’s easy to spot. She drives a sleek walker with a custom red-and-black metallic paint job. And she goes fast, parting the crowd like Moses to get in line first or to get the last electric cart at the grocery store. The walker is too large for her, she’s only 4 feet 10 inches. It belonged to my grandfather; but when he died, she decided to take advantage of the situation. It empowered her. Salon owners hurry to assist her through the doors and to a comfortable seat. They take extra care to adjust the water temperature and compliment her thick, white hair.
Regardless of how courteous the hair stylist is, my grandmother believes that nonagenarians have the God-given right to say whatever is on their mind. Grams takes full advantage of this geriatric endowment.
At the eleventh salon, a young beautician, sporting a modern spiky style, approached Grams cheerfully, “How would you like your hair cut today?”
“Not like yours! That’s how my hair looks when I wake up in the morning.”
The young beautician blushed and glanced at me. I gave her an apologetic look and mouthed, “I’m sorry.” She tried to follow my grandmother’s impossible requests, gave her a new-customer discount and the senior discount. Despite her best efforts, Grams had decided to not like it.
“Would you like to schedule your next appointment?”
Grams was a salon hopper, she would never go to the same place twice. When she said “Yes,” I was surprised.
“For tomorrow, with that lady over there,” Grams pointed to another hair stylist who had been cutting someone’s hair across from where she had been sitting.
As I ushered my grandmother outside, I looked back over my shoulder and apologized again to the young woman.
“I don't like it. What do you think?” Grams asked, looking in the visor mirror.
“I think maybe you should wait to insult someone until after they’ve cut your hair,” I chided. She laughed sheepishly. Nonagenarians can say whatever they want.