The girls are the ones who instigated The Great Hair transformation. What started out as a simple compliment about my hair quickly turned into a salon session scheduled for the next day. They were dying to try out something called a wand on my long tresses, and since I’ve never been one to say no to a free beauty treatment, (and given that no scissors would be involved), I agreed. Eliza clapped her hands in anticipation, and the appropriate reminders about styling equipment were added to iPhones.
Emily strolled in the next morning to deposit a large floral bag behind my desk. I eyed the satchel with suspicion, and when I relocated it for the sake of foot traffic, I noticed that the weight seemed excessive for carrying something akin to a curling iron. I resisted the urge to peek inside, and five hours later the duo arrived to begin my beauty enhancement.
“Where should we set up, Ms. Carver?”
One spot seemed as good as another in my opinion, so they chose a location in the middle of the room, equidistant from each of the emergency exits. If my hair caught on fire, I was toast no matter which way I ran. I excused myself for a trip to the ladies’ room, and when I returned, they had unpacked an arsenal that included a hair brush, hair spray, wand, and several little containers of makeup. The latter worried me because I never wear makeup due to a firm principle of laziness that nails my carcass in the bed until the last possible second each morning, and if these girls covered me in eyeliner, lipstick, and blush, my last period class would assume they were living a segment of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They positioned me in the chair with my back to the desks and with my nose inches from the whiteboard. The location felt suspiciously like a timeout.
Emily began with a statement to boost morale. “You don’t have nearly the amount of hair that I have, Ms. Carver, so this won’t take long at all. What do you think, Eliza? Should we even divide it? It’s so thin that I’m not sure there’s enough for two sections.”
Eliza grasped a chunk of hair to test its weight. “It’s really fine textured, but I still think we should try two rows.”
Emily pulled on a special glove that had only two fingers on it. “This’ll be great. I’ll curl and you spray.” They each dove into my hair, and we discussed skin care, acne medication, and sunburns resulting from thumbing your nose at these medications. According to Emily, the best treatment for blistered skin is to lie flat on the dining room table covered in frozen peas. With skin two shades away from an albino, I made a note to self.
As the lunch hour progressed, spectators stopped by to note the progress. With four hands holding me in place, the only view I had was Expo dust, so with each new person who entered, I played the Name That Voice game. The ooh’s and ah’s were comforting, but as the minutes dwindled and students filled the halls, I knew we had to wrap up before fourteen junior boys walked in to find their worst nightmare: women styling hair and demanding feedback. Just when they thought composition couldn’t get any worse.
“Ms. Carver, what are you teaching them today?”
“Grammar focused on fragments.”
“Oh, Holly can handle that if we don’t get done in time.”
“Thanks,” said the voice of Holly, floating behind my head. Emily pulled a strand from above my left ear, and Eliza let loose another stream of hairspray. The room was already enveloped in a fine haze at this point, creating the ambiance of a romantic Loch Ness Lake while also releasing enough aerosols into the atmosphere to shave off a square foot of ozone layer above our town.
As Eliza blasted my hair with another jet stream, she remarked, “I know this stuff’s not great for the ozone, but sometimes you have to rank beauty above the environment.” And at the risk of offending every environmental lobby, the Save the Whales club, and that weird little fellow who stands outside of Wal-Mart with a Save the Planet sign, I must admit – I agree. On the other hand, there were the ulcers forming on our lungs to consider.
During the beautifying process, I had only one terrifying moment. Emily leaned in to rearrange a curl by my face and nearly skewered my left eye with the wand. Fortunately, I’m good at ducking and dodging thanks to years of jug ball training in middle school. I envisioned the commentary at the football game later on that evening: “Who’s that lady with the really pretty hair? You know, the one wearing the eye patch?”
The clock struck the witching hour, and one of my male students walked in and remarked, “This is the last thing I expected to see in comp class.” He walked around to place himself within my peripheral vision, undoubtedly trying to ascertain that the person beneath the hair was indeed his teacher.
Eliza is cousins with this fellow, and she wasn’t about to let a golden opportunity slip through her sticky, hair-sprayed fingers. “Look at Ms. Carver’s hair, Carter! Don’t you just love it?”
Carter, who grows closer to seven feet every time he inhales, furrowed his brow at such a question. “I don’t know! I mean, I guess so.” He scratched his head as if he could loosen a better response from his scalp.
“There goes your grade,” Emily sagely noted.
I could hear bodies accumulating behind me, so I started shouting out orders about grammar packets and homework over my shoulder. The girls finished three minutes into class, and they snapped a photo of their handiwork.
Later that evening, I came back to watch game one in the state playoffs. As I sat on the bleachers, I spotted a former student, who is now in her second year of college. I waved, and she cupped a hand to the side of her mouth to yell, “I love your hair!”
“Thanks! Emily and Eliza did it.”
“I know. I saw the picture.” What? This was news to me.
I guess when you’re dealing with fairies, they have magical ways of getting the word out.
© 2012 – Traci Carver