But…You Know…For a Fat Lady…

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So here’s what I knew at this point:  I’m sitting in a salon chair.  I’ve already had my roots “refreshed” and my hair “glazed” and “cushioned” with special conditioner.  As you might guess, every time my hairdresser – excuse me, hair stylist – uses one of these words, the price goes up.  By the time Ruby has plunked me into the final chair for the “diffused blowout” and “negative ion” straightening, I’m going to need a bridge loan just to make it to my car.

Here’s what I didn’t know at this point: The big finish would not be how great my hair looked (although it did).  The big finish would be the “high-value entertainment” that was about to begin.

As Ruby goes off to gather supplies to finish my hair, I spy in my mirror a grandmotherly woman and a young boy in the chairs behind me.  The young boy is chattering, chattering away and Grandma is trying to keep up and occasionally shaking her head.  I learn in the next few minutes from Ruby that Grandma is Maria, the mother of the salon’s owner.  The young boy is Zachy, Maria’s grandson and the owner’s nephew. Zachy.  Not Zach.   Zachy.  He is 8 years old and Zachy…  Never. Stops. Talking.

Zachy wanders over and stands right next to me, looking at me in my mirror.  At this point, my naturally curly hair has begun to “sproing” long loose, carefree curls all around my face.  Zachy smiles at me, and says, ” I like your curls.”  But it comes out, “I! Like! Your! Curls!”  He’s not shouting; he’s merely emphatic. Everything he says oozes confidence and expertise.  And it’s this approach that makes the rest of our time together so highly entertaining.  No matter what information he offers, he is completely self-assured of his facts.  It’s as though he’s gone to Oxford and Cambridge and Harvard and Yale, and is the supreme authority on his subjects.  But there’s no swagger or conceit, just exuberance about every pronouncement he makes.

Strap in…it’s worth the ride…

Ruby returns to the station while Zachy and I are talking and removes my wet hairdressing cape in order to replace it with a clean one.  Under the cape I am wearing my usual ragged and low-cut hair-salon shirt – don’t want to wear anything good during this entire process.  As the cape comes off and Zachy looks at the cleavage and the soft curls…

Zachy:   Whoa!!  (steps back, planting both feet and pointing both index fingers at me)  You are SEXY!

Tempest:  (momentarily stunned and trying not to laugh)   Huh?  Wha?

Z:   …not like Beyonce…but…you know…for a fat lady…

T:  (barely able to contain my amusement)  Excuse me, but can’t fat ladies be sexy too?

Z:  (looking at me like he can’t believe his ears)   Yuh!  Look in the mirror!

At this point Ruby is nearly beside herself and has to walk away.  Grandma Maria is still visible in the mirror behind me and she’s shaking her head and rolling her eyes.  Ruby returns and continues the process of blowing out and straightening my hair during the entire next series of conversations.  During this entire exchange I have to keep reminding Ruby to keep the hot straightening tool moving through my hair to avoid burning it completely off.  She would freeze in disbelief during some of Zachy’s more interesting pronouncements. Everything Zachy says, though, is thoughtfully offered.  He considers each sentence he’s saying, as though he wants to be sure I understand the importance of his information.  He uses very mature voice inflection for a kid.  Most of the time he maintains eye contact which is kind of unusual for most kids, but I really think Zachy wants me to truly understand the importance of it all.  If an adult acted this way, it might come off creepy.  But a kid…it’s absolutely hysterical.  Here are some of his most interesting monologues/exchanges:

Z:   How come you’re straightening her hair?

Ruby:  She wants her hair straight today.

Z:  *sigh*  Okayyyy… I guess you have to give the ladies what they want…

then to me:

Z:    Hey!  I know how Scotland got its name.   Well, there was this land (drawing a flat circle in the air, palm down).  And this guy, Scott…he found it!   And everyone agreed that Scott found all this land.  Soooo, they decided to name it Scotland…he’s probably dead by now…I think Scotland is pretty old…it’s probably older than you…(then, gesturing with right hand, thumb out, backwards toward Maria still sitting in the chair behind me)…but SHE’S gotta be older than Scotland!


Z:  Did you know that pretty soon all birds will only have one leg like flamingos?  It’s called he-volution. They don’t really need two legs, you know.  They fly all the time!  They only need a leg once in a while. They’re either flying or sitting.  That’s what happens when things change; they get modern.  Like my dining room chairs…they have four legs, but they’re old.  My new kitchen chairs…one leg.  It’s like a pole and the part on the floor is like a circle.  Looks a little like a bird foot.  See…new stuff…better.  You should keep watching birds…pretty soon they’ll allllllll have one leg just like flamingos.


Z:  I know where pears come from.  Pears are fruit, but they start out as vegetables, did you know that?

T:  (I can’t help myself at this point)   Really?  How does that work?

Z:  (so proud of himself…he’s going to take me through the process step-by-step)    Well!   All pears start out as peas…did you know that?  They do!  Some farmers just grow peas, BUT some farmers let the peas keep growing and growing.  They get bigger and bigger.  When you let something grow a long time, it tastes different, did you know that?  When they get really big, they become pears…they stick an “R” in the word, and supermarkets sell them as fruit.

T:  But Zachy, not all pears are green.  Some are yellow and some are brown.  Have you ever seen those in the store?

Z: (not to be dissuaded)  Awwww…they’re just trying to fool you with those.  They’re no good.   You shouldn’t eat those.  You can’t believe everything you read, you know.

T:  Zachy, how do you know so much about so many things?

Z:  (thinking about that for a minute and excitedly offering)  You know what?  I think it’s been in my head the whole time.  I think I was born with it.  And I just DISCOVERED it one day!  Isn’t that great!

At this point I’ve spent about 20 minutes of listening to Zachy’s non-stop view of the world, trying so, so hard not to laugh in this earnest little boy’s face.  As Ruby finishes my hair and puts some final touches in it, Zachy looks at me in the mirror.

Z:  Yeahhhh…she’s good to go…

Maria (from behind me)   Zachy!   Get over here!   (I guess at this point her eyes were about to pop out from all the eye-rolling).

Zachy wandered away without a goodbye.  I was longer a captive audience; I’d outlived my usefulness.  Ruby leaned in and said, “He comes in once in a while, and he is always, always funny.  I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff.”

My guess:  someone’s been feeding him all kinds of misinformation and getting a kick out of it.  Zachy is going to grow up and discover everything he knows is wrong and he’s going to be pissed.  That…or he’s going to grow up and become a game-show host.

So after all the “refreshing” and “glazing” and “cushioning” I paid for, it was the “floor show” that made the price of admission worthwhile.  Clearly I’m going to have coordinate my schedule with Zachy’s in the future to get my money’s worth.

Sep 2nd, 2016

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