“A haircut will make you feel better, Lease,” my niece, Jen, said as we wandered the mall. We were together in Florida to organize and attend my dad’s funeral. It was December, 2000.
For reasons I still don’t fully understand, my brother Bob, who was Dad’s primary caretaker at the end, was insistent.
“Dad wanted to have Bobby Darin’s Mac The Knife played at his funeral,” Bob insisted. So in the days before YouTube, Jen and I were on a mission, looking for a CD of the song. It was no easy feat, let me tell you, finding that recording.* Record stores were fading, and the stock held by the few remaining didn’t include too many hits from 1958. Jen and I were getting tired and frustrated.
But Jen was right, I looked awful.
My hair is my best feature and always has been. It’s strawberry blonde, thick and curly. It does what it wants to do, which is good, because I don’t like to fuss with it. And I always let whoever cuts my hair do what they want with it. It always looks better than when I tell the expert what to do.
Into the salon Jen and I went.
Mellie, the hairdresser I ended up with, was young — 19, she said. Her hair was black and pink, and she wore thick makeup and brass hoop earrings the size of hula hoops.
I looked at Jen skeptically.
“It’ll be fine,” she reassured me. Of course, she wasn’t getting her hair cut.
I told Mellie to trim my hair, that I was going to a funeral and needed to be presentable.
“How about …” Mellie started talking about different looks. But really, I didn’t care.
When she finished, she twirled my chair around like a playground carousel.
“There you go! You look … sassy!“
She’d given me the ugliest hairstyle I’ve ever seen — Jennifer Aniston haircut from friends. Cut short in the back, with long sides. It’s not a nice look on a human.
John and Jacob hadn’t been able to get to my Dad’s funeral — there were no flights available. John was gentle when he saw my new do, though. After all, I was grieving. A month later when I had all my hair cut off to get rid of the stupid style, John said “I was really surprised to see you with that style. You looked like Cooper [our English springer spaniel.] Long curly bits around your ears and nothing in back.”
Yesterday I had my long hair cut to chin length. When he was done, my longtime hairdresser Ric, who has never given me a bad cut, spun my chair around and proclaimed:
“Elyse, you look sassy!”
* We were, happily able to find a recording of Mack The Knife: