At The Hairdresser

October 19, 1987

(Tape clicks on: whirring sound)

Lily: OK Nicholas, jump on up. Tell me if the water is too hot.
Nicholas: Its fine, thank you.
(sound of water upon scalp)
L: Now boy, I have been cuttin’ hair for almost fourty years now and I have a few ground rules. I’m not gonna do the usual grown up thing and talk down to you like you are some kind of invalid. I’m gonna talk to you as I would with anyone else. If I feel like talking about flowers, I’ll talk about flowers. If I wanna talk cat-fish, I’m gonna talk cat-fish, you understand?
N: Um, ok. 
L: Good, now move on over to the chair over there and I will be right over with a cape for ya.
N: Ok.
(audible walking)
L: You came in here with spiked hair. You want to leave with the same only a bit shorter, right?
N: Yeah, that sounds good.
L: Figured as much. That’s how all the kids are wearing it these days. I don’t really care for it, but I guess that don’t really figure into the equation. How old are you, anyways?
N: I just turned seven this June.
L: So what is that, grade two?
N: Yep.
L: When my son was in grade two, he had already taken to the slicked back grease look. He was a little hellion, but the little girls sure loved him. I figure he lost his virginity before he was in Junior High… you still a virgin?
N: Umm…
L: I guess that’s none of my business. Don’t answer that question. Anyways, I would take him down to the Zellers every Saturday morning for breakfast. He would always get the same thing: two eggs, bacon, white toast with strawberry jam and a glass off orange juice. He never finished the orange juice, so I would slurp it up. It was the only thing I had—I just smoked my cigarettes and watched him eat. Didn’t make him nervous though. He ate really quickly back then, still does. I’ve timed him eating one of those Dairy Queen dipped cones: 33 seconds! Can you believe that? He’s like a vacuum: maybe I’ll start calling him Hoover, or Hoov for short. (Laughs loudly) You’re not much of a talker are ya?
N: Well…
L: Look straight ahead and stop moving. 
(Buzzing of shaver)
L: I got stung by a bee yesterday. Look at my leg.
(Buzzer stops)
L: Bees are crazy at this time of year. I’m thinking of getting one of those epi-pens. I think I’m allergic. Look at the size of my leg! It is insane. Fucker flew away before I could kill it too. When I walk my leg feels funny…

May 19, 1988

(Mid-conversation)

Lily: … I’ve always thought of myself as a robust woman, but that’s just me. Twelve years in Texas will teach you a few things. Must be somethin’ in the water down there, frog-stompin’ sonsabitches walkin’ around town ‘til sun comes up. Peyote buttons being kicked around all over town. Coyotes, big ones, in packs: totally fearless. Rumour is that a lot of them have a taste for baby’s blood. Head straight. Alberta’s much the same, but I’ve never really felt at home here. People just don’t act civilized when they sit their asses down in my chair. I have this French woman who comes in every week… puts her head in the incubator over there and falls asleep instantly. Some kind of therapy, I guess. Expensive therapy, if ya ask me. I don’t even know why she bothers bringing those magazines with her. Drops ‘em on the floor in about five seconds—she’s out… keep still! If I had another boy, I’d name him Darwin.

June 26, 1989

(Mid-conversation)

Lily: …so he comes in the other night, drunk like a skunk, and decides that he wants to be all romantic. Broke my best vase, belonged to my grandma, as he tried to fit an entire bottle of Advil into it… said the florist told him that it keeps roses alive. I’d just put Albert to bed, and was sure that all that racket was gonna wake him up… what was he thinking? His lunch box really stinks, by the way. I tried to rinse it out with bleach water, but he’ll have none of it. Says that it “ain’t natural puttin’ that poison in his lunch box”— stubborn as a mule that man. But hell, I love ‘m. Thirty years this Fall. You should tell your mom and dad to come to our party. Say, you don’t talk much do ya?
Nicholas: Well …
L: Stop moving or I’ll cut off your ear!

December 11, 1991

(Mid-conversation)

Lily: …almost killed me. Seven hours in a car, driving through the prairies. Good Lord, someone put me out of my misery. All that drivin’ with nothin’ but the inlaws on the other end. And I know that as soon as we get there his dad will take us into the basement to show us the new additions to his train room. He’s trying to build an exact replica of Saskatchewan in his basement, you know. I think he should be sedated. Never leaves the basement. It smells like potato water down there, but he doesn’t seem to mind at all. Puts his Engineer Cap on before starting up the train, all I wanna do is eat every bagel in town. Have you ever had a bagel?
Nicholas: Yeah…
L: I like to cover mine with cream cheese. Can’t even see the hole in the bagel. It is covered in cream cheese like spackle on drywall… I’m gettin’ hungry just thinkin’ about it…

February 12, 1993

(Mid-conversation)

Lily: Back then they called them slacks. That word has a dignity about it that pants just never will. I’ve ironed countless pairs of ‘em, but it never seems to get any easier. Something therapeutic about the process though. You concentrate, but you don’t, you know. I like the sound of the steam iron. Sounds like a happy emphysema patient, the little train that could… ya know. Sometimes when he takes them off he gets a little jolt from the static electricity. He’s complained about that shag carpet for as long as we’ve had it… still nothing sexier than humpin’ on a shag, if you ask me. The budgies always get real quiet when we’re doin’ it, now there is a mystery. I’m just gonna get another cup of coffee, you hold tight.
Nicholas: Ok. 

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