’Twas the night before Christmas.
Actually, it wasn’t. Just wanted to get your attention.
It all began in the month of March. I was three months from becoming a typical 11-year-old with long, brown hair and green eyes. I was counting down the days for school to end and summer camp to begin. I loved school, but I loved summer camp more.
Every Friday morning at 10, Mom (z”l) visited the beauty parlor directly across the street and around the corner from our apartment building. It was in what we now refer to as a strip mall.
We knew it as the shop between Hoffman’s grocery store and Prylucks’ drugstore on the corner. We also knew it as the spot where Mrs. Goldberg could spy on us kids from her second-floor window. Reporting back to our parents was her reason for living.
All farputsed (beautified), Mom would come home and finish doing the laundry, making the beds and washing the floors, on which she artfully placed newspapers to ensure that they stayed clean. To this day, I cannot figure this one out, so if you can, let me in on the secret.
It was all part of her getting-ready-for-Shabbat weekly routine.
The Shabbat routine continued with Mom cooking brisket or pot roast or chicken and potatoes in her black-with-white-speckles roasting pot. Yes, Mom used exactly one pot to cook the entire Shabbat meal. Waste not want not, to the extreme.
Back to March and the year I stopped smiling.
Mom decided cutting my hair would make life easier for me. Believe me when I say that she was so wrong.
I cried and carried on until I was too tired to fight. Besides, where would I live if I ran away from home, which is precisely the empty threat I tried to use, to no avail?
I entered the beauty shop as a normal-looking, maybe even cute, almost-11-year-old and came out looking like the little Dutch boy on the paint cans. I was devastated. For close to a year, I could not smile and was on strike from being in any photos.
My youngest daughter’s birthday is in March. Yes, I did and do notice the coincidence; are there really coincidences? Let’s not go there today.
It was the year Dorothy Hamill invaded our lives. The Dorothy Hamill haircut became all the rage for little and big girls alike.
My sweet baby girl had long, beautiful curls down to there. She was also clear about her likes and dislikes. She still won’t eat meat. And although I was (and still am) the grown-up, I knew I was on the wrong end of the Dorothy Hamill craze.
Reluctantly, I made the appointment for her with my hairdresser. I knew in my heart I could not do this alone. Her bestest friend, Sharon, and my bestest friend, Rene, came along as support — for me, not her.
The hairdresser foolishly tried to persuade my sweet baby girl to simply trim her beautiful locks. Oh, no, she insisted: “I want it up to here,” pointing to her earlobes.
He looked at me for support. Silly man: I was looking to him for the same.
As soon as he began washing her hair, I started sobbing. Rene immediately realized I could not bear to watch; the trauma was too great. Old memories flooded back.
So we walked the halls of the mall. I was sobbing, almost unable to catch my breath, while poor Rene was trying to console me. Lord knows what shoppers were thinking.
An hour later, we entered what I knew would turn out to be the little shop of horrors. I was wrong. As much as I missed my baby and her gorgeous curls, the 6-year-old standing in front of me was magnificent. In my humble opinion.
Checking Google Earth, it appears there are still shops on that street. Unfortunately, our apartment building is gone. No matter: I have a cloud filled with memories, which, by the way, I love sharing with you.