Posted in Family

The tragic story of identity lost in a single snip

One of my earliest memories is that of sitting at story time in nursery school.  I was a young 4-year old with hair so long I often found myself sitting on it.   To free it, I leaned forward, bowing my head until it came loose, then rolled back to listen to the rest of the story.  Men called me Blondie.  Women cooed over my golden locks.

We had an old black and silver 1955 hair dryerhair dryer that could either sit on the counter or be held like blow-dryers of today.  We used that until it started to emit electrical shocks, then finally updated to an orange plastic model in the seventies.  Mom would sit me down in front of it, working the boar’s-bristle brush through the long maze of snarled nests.  If her patience wavered, I never knew it.  Although years later I learned how much she hated that task.

The Powder Pouf Beauty Salon was a cornerstone of the *Moon Plaza for many years, along with Buzz’s Barber shop, Dave’s Sport Shop, the Marine recruitment office, a dance school, and the Alcohol Anonymous meeting room in Fridley, Minnesota.  Every Saturday morning, for several years, I packed coloring books and crayons in a small bag, and scrambled into the back of my mother’s white Chevy with red interior.  No seat belt.  No video games.  I remember the smell of hairspray, the hum of the dryers, and looked forward to the attention from all the ladies in curlers and lipstick.  It was a very pink place, as you can imagine.

If business was slow, sometimes Sandi, my mother’s beautician (they weren’t stylists back then), turned a dryer on a low setting and let me feel the tiny jets of air tickle my scalp.  The warmth gave me goosebumps.  The white noise lulled me into a trance.  Sometimes I got a bottle of pop, pulled out of a coin-operated machine, that clinked and clunked as the money fell, the mechanism unlocked, and the bottles rolled into place.  It was a magical place where my mom transformed from Saturday morning bed-head into a ravishing washed, curled, teased, and sprayed helmet-clad angel.

Then one day it was my turn.  Mom turned up the hype.  This was my rite of passage.  I would be beautiful.

Upon arrival, my woman-friend, Sandi, sat me in a booster seat and wrapped me in a cape.  In her hands she held scissors, a rubber band, and my faith.  She bound my hair in a pony tail, and in one snip her scissors removed from my head the very essence of my being.  Sandi held the bound hair up like a dead rabbit at the end of a day’s hunt, then curled it into a plastic bag that my mother tucked into her perfume-scented purse.

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My pony tail still resides in the plastic Glad Brand sandwich bag in which it was originally placed, rubber band intact.

I was Sampson.  Stunned.  Powerless.  My mother sat in the chair next to me, chatting and smiling with Delilah, seemingly oblivious to my loss.  Several snips and one Saf-T-Pop later, I was on my way home in the back of the Chev.  Mom chatted about the usual things, none of which were important to me in my grief.

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Found this on YouQueen.com as a bad haircut for a square face. Guess who has a square-shaped face? Yeah. Me.

At home, I sat on the kitchen floor playing with dolls, or coloring, or something.  I have a lot of memories of playing on the kitchen floor for some reason.  Gramma and Grampa came through the back door to say hello.  Gramma’s eyes shifted from me to my mother and back again.  I felt like a specimen.  Mom explained that this was a Pixie Cut.  It was very popular in those days.  Feeling their stares like hot fire on the top of my head, I looked up at Gramma’s speechless face.  Never being one to say anything if she couldn’t say something nice, she finally announced, “Well, she’s so homely she’s cute!”

“Mother!”

“Well she is, isn’t she?”

I didn’t know what homely meant back then, but I knew from my mom’s reaction it wasn’t good.  I filed that word into a special place in my memory called, “Things I don’t want to ask about, but want to know someday.”  And when I looked back at my school photo many, many years later, it all came back to me.  Mainly, because I thought to myself, “My God.  I’m so homely, I’m cute.”  Like a frog or a bug.

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“So homely, she’s cute.”

The following Christmas I got a play wig.  It was a long blonde play wig, and it was as if someone had reattached a lost limb.  I wore it all the time, glamorously flipping it back with my hands, or whisking it off my shoulder with a toss of my head.  Eventually, when I had more voice in the matter, I grew my hair out.  Mom chiding, “As long as I don’t have to brush out the knots, you can do whatever you want with it.”  Later I cut it again, and permed it.  Later yet I grew it out and now still wear it long.

The one thing I have never done is color it.  I have few vanities with this old body of mine, so let me have this one.  Oh, there is some grey in there, but it’s harder to see against the blonde.  Men still call me Blondie and more often Sunshine.  Women still ogle, although I suspect they’re looking for roots.  And someday I’ll be too old to pull off this long, straight Thirty-something style.  But I’m going to rock it as long as I’m able, and maybe a little after that.

In my golden years

I imagine I’ll it cut short again.  Maybe if I’m lucky they’ll say I’m so homely I’m cute.

Peace . . .

*Moon Plaza still stands.  Although updated, it is much the same.

Buzz the barber celebrated his 50th year in business in 2015, although he quit racing motorcycles at the age of 67.

I’m sad to say that Sandi the beautician died in 2008 at the age of 60.   She was eventually the owner of The Powder Pouf and another location in the northeast suburbs of the Twin Cities.

Posted in Lore

Detachable Magazines

Motive fascinates me.  Every choice you make, is governed by motivation.  Whether you get off the couch to use the bathroom, or head to the kitchen, is motivated by a full bladder, an empty stomach, or maybe that Doritos commercial you saw.  Marketers know this.  It is their job to find out what drives you to part with your most prized possession; your MONEY.

diabetic livingJust for fun, browse the magazine isle at your local supermarket.  See if you can figure out what motivates the potential readers just by looking at the picture on the front.

I can tell, for instance, that diabetics will pay for a magazine that tells them they can enjoy a luscious brownie parfait layered with gobs of whipped cream.  Crafters get excited being reminded to start their Christmas projects in July.  Car enthusiasts like to think they can get a scantily-clad woman to lean against their car provocitavely — Okay, okay . . . who doesn’t? — but you get my point.

8579204216_9fb4c0ebd3It makes sense that if a publication appeals to a larger audience, they will have more people who will ultimately fork over their dough.  Consequently, you regularly see articles for “Look your best in your 30s, 40s, and over 50.”

The age bracket I now fall into is “over 50.”  Apparently, I am no different than those in their 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s.  We are all lumped together.  I am as likely to have ads directed at me for retirement, golf courses, and expensive vacations, as I am adult diapers and nursing homes.  If the baby boomer generation has the purchasing power they say we do, the marketers haven’t figured it out yet.

retirementEven the wrinkle-repair skin cream is advertised by models at least twenty years younger than myself.  Is it time for me to say goodbye to pretty cosmetics and succumb to false teeth and slippers?  Many of us in our 50s, 60s and 70s are still actively working out, buying computers, having *gasp* SEX, wearing make-up, and looking for some trendy fashion.  I have peers raising young children and starting new careers.  We grew up in the 1950s and 1960s.  We wrote the book on groovy and invented free love!  Now your going to tell us it’s time to tie a sweater around our shoulders and ride a bike with a basket on the front?  Hold on here!

I actually enjoy reading Cosmopolitan.  The fashion news is up to date, and the sex tips are always fun.  But when scantily clad boys stare seductively at me from the pages, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable.  Would it hurt to have one guy with a little grey at the temples . . . I mean, just to represent the small percentage of their readership over the drinking age?

I’d like to think I’m still a marketable demographic.  Yet, opening up the pages of this national publication, I found that this cover story actually included How to Dress in Your 30s, 40s, 50s and also 60s.

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If you remember nothing else about advertising, remember this:

Nothing is an accident.

While I applaud their effort to include women in their 60s, from a marketing perspective, thirty-somethings are not going to pay for pictures of clothing for old people.  It is more profitable to this editor to sell publications to the younger group than the older one.  Thus, the 60-year old customer was not advertised to, and she will have to stumble onto the article by chance.

Are the “50 and over” customers a tough crowd?  Maybe we have grown too wise to be fooled out of our money.  After all, I know the models are airbrushed, and I’m never going to see my abs again.  (They left, actually, without leaving so much as a note.)  I don’t need advice on asking my boss for a raise.  (If I’m lucky they won’t notice I’m still there drawing a paycheck.)  I know diets are a farce and I plan on living each day like there are no brownies in heaven.  Only the AARP is still marketing to me, sending me eleven brochures every month.  So far, not even the promise of member savings and a secret handshake have been enough to loosen my purse strings.

Opening the magazine below, I was promised ageless, chic looks.  I found only . . . good God! . . . the Bride of Frankenstein!

And they wonder how they’ve lost the purchasing power of the baby boomers!

bride of frankenstein

ageless