Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hookers on Parade, or Is That a Prom Dress You're Wearing?

“Hookers on parade!” was my first thought last Saturday evening when John and I went to dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary. My second thought was that he’d probably love a hooker for a present – he’s stood by me for 23 years!!!! Then I noticed that their escorts looked so young, and then it hit me: Prom Night! That magical night when young girls lose their virginity and wonder how sex ever got so highly rated.

I can't get my head around this question: where were these girls’ parents when they sauntered out of the house with backless dresses that displayed their butt cracks, frocks from which their breasts were spilling, clothing leave nothing to the imagination? One girl wore a black beaded dress so tight that it was painful watching her pretend to eat. It was also so short that her boyfriend dropped his fork repeatedly and had to crawl under the table to retrieve it. I'm kidding about the last part.

I read recently that girls spend an average of $537 to attend prom. Holy cow! When I went to prom in 1948, it and all other major events, including circumcisions, were held in gymnasiums that were decorated with loving hands. They still looked really tacky during the day, but on prom night they were transformed into a magic world filled with eager young bodies wildly gyrating. A few adults hung out, pretending to have fun, their beady eyes scanning for not only dirty dancers, but also pints of peach brandy stuffed into jacket pockets. They were called chaperons.

I must digress a moment because I know my fans will love this: I was too physically challenged to make cheerleader, but I was president of the Pep Club my senior year! So I was one of those who got out of class to decorate the gym, even though my idea of decorating is putting baskets everywhere into which to dump all the crap that accumulates when you live with a husband, two children, two dogs and an aversion to cleaning house that borders on phobia. My job as I saw it was constructive criticism, as in "that chain you just made from construction paper looks like shit." The main thing I remember about being in the Pep Club (besides having an excuse to use the car for our important business and games, even on school nights), is that we dressed like the first picture I ever saw of the Duggars: red polyester vests over white shirts. Woof, woof.

Another memory I have failed to repress: our theme was “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters. Gag me with a spoon! They were that All American brother and sister duo whose careers soared until Karen Carpenter literally starved herself to death. For those of you who haven’t heard this song, please don’t look it up and taunt me with a rendition every time I see you. Yes, Billie, I am talking to you.

The band to which we danced was the Bobby Blue Bland Band (not too shabby – he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981). I attended the prom with my boyfriend in a white pantsuit my mom made; only the skanks had their naughty bits on display. David and I might have lasted, had he not started writing me letters during my first semester in college informing me that he'd found Jesus and that both he and Jesus had my number.

No doubt a few all-night parties at some one's house were held, and a few rich kids probably rented a hotel suite and partied all night. Most of us went “parking” – free of charge – and had to be home by curfew. The thought of even mentioning a co-ed all-night event to my father would have invoked sheer terror. I read some advice the other day: if your child asks to attend a "couples" all-night prom party, don't panic! Say "Great! You won't mind if I call Jane's mom to confirm!" Yeah, as long as you call her before 7:30 p.m. because if she's the kind of parent who wants to host an all-night party for randy teenagers, chances are she drinks a lot. And has a boyfriend named Thor who likes to take "art" pictures.

I'm sure my girls' prom night will be just another episode in the memoir they are already collaborating on, the working title being "Lousy Mother." I imagine them ditching the tasteful dresses I bought at Goodwill and changing into a skimpier version of the green dress above. Of finding them and their 36-year old boyfriends at 3 a.m. in the parking lot of EZ Mart, reclining on Harleys, a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Me once again ruining a good time and costing them the loves of their lives.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Final Cut

I am seriously finished with my hair dresser. I've said it before, but last time's cut was the last straw. The cut and color before that should have been my swan song, but I am obviously a glutton for punishment.

As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up, and I am being kind and leaving out many details. A friend recommended him several years ago -- her hair always looks fabulous. Then again, she has great hair -- thick and lustrous. I could style it and it would look good. It was the old "wow -- Halle Berry wears this lipstick and I'm going to look like her if I buy it!" I was really fond of him, and over several years I followed him from his first dive to a rather posh salon (which he said he left because he said the owners got uppity), to a real dump and then to his apartment.

When I made the appointment, he asked me to stop by Sally's and buy my own hair color because someone had stolen his car - for the second time. He didn't offer to pay for it and since I know he needs money I didn't ask and just paid my regular price plus a generous tip. My appointment was for 10:30 a.m., which is when his 10 a.m. appointment showed up. He immediately began clipping away -- on her hair. I was pissed at both of them, until she said "I'm sorry I was late, but I had to stop by the bank when you told me you needed me to pay in cash."

While he was trimming her hair, I asked to use his restroom -- many of my fans know that my bladder is approximately half the size of a split pea. The toilet was clogged with poop and there was no toilet paper. I'd like to say that I was able to hold it, but I actually peed, used a paper towel to clean my nether regions and then had to deposit the paper towel in the waste basket in the kitchen, pretending nothing was out of the ordinary.

I had the vapors by this time. He was talking about the woman downstairs who had gone missing -- she was a bit off and had been talking about suicide. Her apartment door was open, so he and his stable neighbor had gone to look for her. (This neighbor had gotten totally toasted one evening and had broken three panes of glass in his door when she came down to chat and he didn't answer the door immediately.) He described trash and clothing and how they poked around on her bed with something, presumably looking for her corpse, but came up empty.

The woman getting her hair cut suddenly leaped out of her chair and said that she needed to retrieve her purse from the floor because she spied a huge roach who was obviously looking for her wallet. She said it as one might say "I need to grab a tissue from my purse."

Why didn't I leave then? I've asked myself that countless times, but not as many as I've asked myself why I went back.

He used to use fancy pieces of pre-cut foil when he applied color to my hair, and then moved to chopped up bits of generic foil; then he stopped using it altogether. I didn't know whey he used it in the first place, so was not alarmed, but I did notice that he wasn't as meticulous as he'd been in the past. I had to bend over the kitchen sink while he rinsed out the color and washed my hair. (I'm paying what for this?) As I sat down for my cut, he goes back to the story about the missing neighbor, telling me how the place downstairs was so filthy and disgusting that roaches had been coming up through the drain by the hundreds. The drain over which I'd just had my head. A shiver literally went up my spine, but that totally fucking crazy part of me stayed put.

My hair was longer then, and I wore it mostly clipped back because it's very thin and fine and I've never known how to fix it. There are few things more pathetic than those with really thin hair who obviously imagine it cascading down their backs, when in reality it looks like a ratty fur stole with huge hunks that went missing sometime around the second World War. However, I liked wearing it down the one day when he cut it because he put stuff on it and straightened it and it looked decent. This time, I kid you not, I came out looking like an aging Prince Valiant with margarine-colored hair.

After the haircut, he asked me to take him to EZ Mart and back, where he got one of those giant cans of beer, two packs of smokes and a lottery ticket. (I also bought a lottery ticket and lost).

So what was I thinking a few Saturdays ago when I got a text from him, telling him he was doing hair that day. I was thinking that he really needs the money, I really need a haircut and I'd give him ONE more chance. I don't know whether it was because he had stopped smoking, but his hands were shaking as he deposited some color on my hair -- he didn't even pull out strands of it, just randomly slapped about my head with a brush. Probably his toothbrush. Then I had to bend over the sink while he put a drop of shampoo on my head and immediately rinsed it, handed me a nasty-looking towel, and then whacked at my hair really quickly. He used a blow dryer less carefully than you'd use on your dog -- and -- gasp -- not a bit of product.

Then he asked me to take him to EZ Mart; a friend was picking him up there. I was in and out of there faster than Tiger Woods (wink, wink, nod, nod -- see the most recent Vanity Fair if you are puzzled). I wanted a pixie; I looked like a military recruit (not that there's anything wrong with that) with spots of yellow and orange in my hair and my gray roots standing proudly at attention. As you can see in the photo above, I fashioned a hat for myself. Out of clay. It's heavy and it gives me a headache, but it does the trick -- no one even notices my hair.