Skinny Talls

Yesterday was hair day. I opened the door to the Salon and stood there for a while drinking in the festive sight. The place was packed with black women getting doodied up for the holidays.

A delightful Christmas tree stood at one corner with lights and gift-boxes at the bottom. My nose followed the welcoming whiff of donuts and coffee that sat on a table at the other corner.

Big-bottomed hair-dressers moved about in warm fuzzy form-fitting Christmas-themed pyjamas, fluffy sandals and shiny red and green tinsels woven into their hair. Unencumbered. They were a joyful sight.

A cacophony of catch-up and laughter blended in with the Soul music that blared from the other corner. Peaches the hair-washer would greet you at the door with her Santa hat, big apron and “hey-baby!” grin then slide to the floor and do a shuffle every so often when one of her jams came on.

In the middle of all this estrogen-soaked air where matriarchy reined free, someone had brought their bean-pole of a nephew to get his two-inch locs redone. He looks about 14 or 15, all 6-foot tall or so. Let’s call him Skinny Talls.

I noticed him when Keisha – that’s my hairdresser – was working on his squeezed head. Soon, I was in Keisha’s care and the bean-pole Skinny Talls and his squeeze head was guided to the dryer, switch turned on and me there seated across, watching him covered under this hot-air bowl.

He’s quiet, very still, but I know something is not right. He’s too long. His backbone needs readjusting. Removing a couple vertebrates would have solved the matter. The upside-down bowl has been pulled up to its maximum, and the chair is as low as it can go. Po thing.

As life unfolds happily around him, someone notices that Bean-pole Skinny Talls is slowly pouring out of the dryer like a cooked spaghetti stick noodling out, his knees rising up in slow-motion and forming two stick mountains. Is a crisis!

Keisha shouts- Tell that boy to sit up! Skinny Talls struggles to sit up. Another woman- He still oozin’ out! Sit still kid!

Skinny talls wiggles his bonny butt upwards but his knees are not obeying. All the women are now looking at him and talking all at once. Boy, put yo’ head back in there! Quit slippin’ and slidin’!

Skinny Talls is falling apart. I’m waiting on him to come falling out in a heap. But he’s brave. The boy is on a mission– the locs must grow, the dryer must be survived!

From the donut table, someone shouts- Peaches, help the boy! And from the corner of my eye I see Santa Clausetta Peaches slide swiftly towards Skinny Talls as he starts to ooze out again. She grabs his legs and shoves his backbone up towards the bowl, wiggles him a bit and locks him in place with a command- Stay!

The women roar with laughter. Skinny Talls digs his heels in the ground and stays put. In another ten minutes, the dryer times out and the boy comes out triumphantly. Keisha removed the head-wrap, puts the spray on him, and we all applaud. This handsome young man who survived the dryer finally smiles and the women go awwww!

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