Chapter 1: Change Begins
Mary Louise walked into the living room of her family’s home and immediately knew something was different. The day had been pretty much like every other one of her senior year in high school. Graduation was just a few months away and she had already turned eighteen. She wanted to go to college, but she would have to sit the first year out and work.
That had been the first big surprise this year. Her father was co-owner of the main industry in their small town and she had assumed her parents would pay for her to go to college. But it appeared finances were tighter than her folks were letting on and it had been arranged for her to work as secretary in the offices the week after school ended.
She had dealt with the disappointment, but as the time drew near, it saddened her to hear her friends talking excitedly about their summer vacation plans and then the big changes the fall would bring to their lives as they went away to school. Of course, some were hanging around to attend the local city college, and even that would have been okay for Mary Louise.
“Hello, Mary Louise,” her mother called out to her.
She saw her parents were both in the living room, which was a little strange by itself. “Hi Mom, Dad.” She greeted them with a smile, slinging her book bag onto the sofa while she perched on the overstuffed arm. She was dressed as many others in her class dressed: blue jeans, sneakers and cotton t-shirt or top. Some of the kids of executives at the plant liked to wear expensive clothes to lord it over the plant staff’s offspring, but Mary Louise wore what she felt comfortable in.
“You’re a little late, aren’t you dear?” Jeanine Walters asked as she looked out the bay window, which overlooked the front lawn.
“Yeah, Mom. Barry and I stopped for a soda after school. He is still pretty excited about the scholarship he got to State.”
Bob Walters nodded his head. “He’s a lucky boy.”
Mary Louise knew what her father really meant. Barry was lucky for a kid whose father worked the production line in the factory. He was also really smart and had always worked hard. She was glad when he started paying attention to her. They hadn’t done any real dating yet, just in a group, but she was hopeful.
“Yes, well, your father and I need to talk to you about something. It’s good news, actually.” Her mother turned and walked towards her. She took a seat beside her husband, in one of the two chairs that faced the sofa.
As if they were a tag team, her father took over. “Frank Davis and his family are back in town.”
Mary Louise looked from one parent to the other. The snooty Davis’ had never been people her family consorted with other than her father’s business relationship with the father. They had one son, Rowdy, and he was good looking, according to what others said, but he was also seven years older than she was. Nodding her head, she replied, “That’s nice.”
Her mother nodded her own head briskly. “Yes, dear, and I knew you would agree.”
“Agree to what, Mom?”
“Your father has arranged a blind date for you tonight. Isn’t that exciting?”
Mary Louise frowned, looking from one parent to the other. Had they gone crazy? Parents didn’t do stuff like that anymore.
“Date? But I—”
Jeanine spoke quickly. “We really want you to go out with him, dear. He is such a nice boy and it’s only dinner. But I think you will have a good time.”
She looked at her father, but he was looking at the floor. Finally she nodded her head slowly. “Just the blind date?”
“Of course, sweetheart. But I just know that you will have fun. Now, we have to hurry for you to get ready on time.” Jeanine hopped up and grabbed her daughter’s hand, pulling her upstairs. They went into her parents’ room first and Mary Louise knew with a sinking feeling what was going to happen.
For the last few months, ever since she had gone with her mother to see the plant doctor, her mother had been giving her vitamin shots. She hated them and thought they were a waste of time, but her mother insisted they follow the doctor’s prescribed regimen. There were several bottles and the ones each day varied slightly. Mary Louise didn’t know which was for what and so on, because her mother kept track.
“Couldn’t we skip this tonight, Mom?” she asked while she watched her mother begin automatically checking the papers and then begin drawing up the correct dosage.
“No, darling. The regimen is quite strict and for your benefit. Now lower your jeans and bend over the bed. I’m ready.”
Mary Louise did as asked and soon felt the sting of a needle in each hip. Pulling her jeans and panties back up, she sat on the bed. “I guess I’ll shower and clean up in a little while.”
Jeanine looked over her shoulder at her daughter. “I have everything scheduled, darling. I thought you would enjoy some pampering so we are going to Aunt Lou’s as soon as you get out of the shower. So go scoot. Don’t bother washing your hair.”
A short time later she walked into her aunt’s hair salon, which was siirt escort also the town’s barbershop because Mary Louise’s uncle, Lou’s husband, was also the city’s only barber. Her Aunt Lou smiled a greeting.
“I’m already for Mary Louise. Jeanine you can set the garment bag in the back.” Lou was picking up her cape, and gesturing to the chair for Mary Louise.
Slowly she got into the chair, feeling the cape settle around her and then her aunt talking to her again. “Scoop up your hair, sweetie.”
Mary Louise slowly pulled her waist-length, dark, rich auburn hair out. Her aunt had trimmed her hair a few times before, but this was a surprise. She felt Lou fixing the paper around her neck like they did for men’s haircuts when she came with her dad. That was strange. Then Lou turned the chair away from the mirror, and she was facing her mother.
Jeanine smiled. “This is very exciting, isn’t it, Mary Louise?”
“Uhm, I guess so.” She should tell her aunt that she only want half an inch at the absolute most taken off. The long rich, red fall of hair was going to look beautiful against her white gown at graduation.
“Also, as another treat, I bought you a new outfit to wear. It’s a little more grown-up than what you are used to, but your father and I are sure you are mature enough to wear it.”
Mary Louise was focused on her mother’s words. Mature clothing? They bought it for her! This couldn’t be real, she argued silently.
Distracted by her mother and not facing the mirror, she didn’t see her aunt lifting her long, very sharp scissors. The first cut, and the most deadly was made before she even knew it was happening. A three-inch wide swathe of her hair had been sliced off above her ear. As the hair slid down the cape, Mary Louise saw it and screamed.
“Oh my God! Aunt Lou! What have you done?” Her hand flew to the side of her head that had just been shorn and she felt the cut, slightly uneven hairs right above her ear. This had to be a nightmare. Her mother loved her long hair. So did her aunt, or she was always saying how beautiful it was. “What are you doing?”
Jeanine pulled her hand back down and then she held both of Mary Louise’s hands tight to the arms of the chair. “Hush, dear. Aunt Lou is giving you a surprise haircut. We just know you will love it when it is all done and you see it for the first time.”
“You mean I can’t see it until then?” She asked in disbelief. She felt her aunt slicing more hair off, and again.
Aunt Lou spoke even as she sliced another two inches of hair from her niece’s head. “No, sweetie. Your mom and I agreed it was best to wait until the end. We don’t want you getting any wrong ideas before you see the finished style, all primped and perfect.”
As she finished speaking, the scissors closed over the last long swathe of hair on Mary Louise’s head. Even though she couldn’t see, it was almost too easy to imagine how awful her hair had to look—half of it stopped above her ear, and the other half was hanging in long, much thinner tendrils like before.
“There you go. Now I pin this part up, and we’ll get rid of all that undercut.”
Before Mary Louise could think, the shears zoomed around cutting those strands to the length of an ear-tip bobbed style, but it didn’t feel straight or neat. She felt shocked and numb as to what to do. What had her aunt said? Undercut? What is that? Then she realized that her mother was still clamping her hands to the chair and there was little that she could do.
A few seconds later she heard a clicking sound, which was followed by a loud humming noise. Then Lou was pushing her head forward.
“Chin to chest dear!”
A moment later, Mary Louise felt the cold apparatus at the nape of her neck and zooming upwards. Since her aunt had drawn a line three inches above her ear and pulled the hair above into a clip, Mary Louise realized that the clippers were quickly eating away everything below that line.
Dear God! She yelled silently. My own family is scalping me.
She tried to think…clippers. They use those on men’s haircuts. I’ve seen them before. They rest against the head and cut the hair…oh no! In the past, the hair had always been super-short, like half an inch, or even shorter! She remembered the hair would sometimes lay flat afterwards, but usually it stuck straight out, too short for anything else.
Lou did the entire back of her head, and then folded one ear down and quickly demolished the hair at her temple and over her ear. As quick as possible, she did both sides. Then to Mary Louise’s surprise her mother released her hands. Were they done? Let me think. Aunt Lou cut just above my ears so if she evens that out…She’d have one of those chili bowl cuts, or step cuts. How horrible! Still, it would be three inches longer than what was clipped up…a moment later the clamped hair was released.
“Now we get to the fun part!” Aunt Lou announced, pulling over a cart that Mary Louise recognized as being used to give permanent waves. “Jeanine, you can hand me the papers and we’ll go a lot sincan escort faster.”
Mary Louise saw her aunt pick up the smallest roller on the cart. It hit her like a ton of bricks what they were doing to her hair. She was being given one of those super-short “poodle” cuts, which she’d seen many older women wear. In disbelief she watched as her mother her handed aunt paper after paper, and she felt one tight curl, and then another being placed on her head. Soon her aunt was threading a skinny rod through certain rows.
“This makes the curls nice and straight and uniform. This is the difference usually between a home job and a professional. It’s like we always say isn’t it, Jeanine? Quality always tells!”
As her aunt and mother both applied several bottles of solution, Mary Louise fought against mental images of herself with a “poodle perm.” God! She’d be the laughing stock of her school. There had been other kids, over the years, which had suddenly radical haircuts, usually not their own choice. One girl was sent to camp for the summer and returned a one-inch pixie style cut. Mary Louise heard from others upon arrival, everyone, boys and girls received a crew cut. The most recent was a girl returning from reform school. Her hair had been super short all over except the top, where it was longer, but straight across. Someone had said it was a “flattop.” This was all she needed after the changes her body had decided to make all of a sudden.
Like a second puberty spurt, her body had begun to change. Her breasts had gone from a 34 B to a 36 D, and her hips seemed wider. As if that wasn’t bad enough, looking in the mirror, she had developed an impressive “booty.” These changes had not gone unnoticed by the senior boys. Guys who had never given her the time of day had been trying to talk to her lately. So far Barry hadn’t said anything, or tried anything either, but she would have been surprised if he had not taken note of the dramatic changes.
Her girlfriends were jealous and some girls at school had even chided her about getting fat all of a sudden. She had tried to talk to her mother, but each time Jeanine had merely shaken her head, telling her softly.
“Young girls bodies all change at different time clocks. Yours is on a different schedule and soon everything will be fine.”
Great! Now she could be the busty grandmother of the senior class. That is just what she needed, along with being stuck working at the plant, even if it was in the office.
Her aunt had placed cotton around her face and now she covered it all with plastic. “Come over here and have a seat under the dryer for a bit.”
With the dryer running, Mary Louise had a hard time hearing what the older women were talking about.
“The heat intensifies…the manufacturer says it lasts over a year or more this way.”
“How much shorter…specified one to two inches.”
And lastly she heard her aunt say, “I’ll take the bottom to skin…razor…blending with clippers.”
Mary Louise heard nothing to make her feel better. Before too much longer, they were applying the neutralizer, and then out came the curlers.
Aunt Lou was running her hands through the super tight curls. “Oh, it’s perfect!”
Mary Louise felt her mother touching it lightly, but to her it mostly felt like her mother’s hand, held flat, was bouncing off the super coiled curls. “It’s what the letter said…the curls are really tight, aren’t they?”
“That’s the beauty of it, Jeanine. When she is too busy with…well, this kind of hair is no mess, no fuss upkeep. Wash, lightly towel dry and pick it out with a comb. It air dries and you’re done. If you want height and volume, you can brush or pick it out dry.”
“Yes, I know. Well, let’s get it done.”
Mary Louise could tell her mother didn’t like it. That didn’t surprise her because her entire life her mother had adored her long, dark auburn hair. She’d spend hours combing and brushing it, putting beautiful, expensive ribbons and barrettes in it. Even her father—
Oh God! What would her father think of this nightmare? He had always raved over her hair. At night, he would stroke it until she fell asleep.
Who wants to stroke a bristly poodle? It might be soft, like lamb’s wool, but it wasn’t the heavy, warm weight like silk.
Suddenly she remembered the added roundness her face had taken on lately. She had thought the long, straight wings had made it look more slender. What was this going to make her face look like with a curly, tightly woven bird’s nest on top of her head?
The clippers were running over her head once more and she realized it was being cut even shorter. They moved much faster this time, and tiny little hairs seemed to fly out and land on her cape, sliding down slowly. And then her aunt took out a smaller clipper and ran it over the lower two-inches of her nape and one-inch over her ears.
“There you go, dear. I’m just blending it from smooth to one-quarter inch to the undercut at three-eighths inch, which extends about one inch into the curls. That sinop escort will let the curls poof out like a mushroom cap. The short hair stands up and pushes the curls up from below, giving it the extra lift.”
That is exactly the description Mary Louise had been thinking, a big fluffy, round mushroom cap on the top of her head. It sounded so attractive she was sure Barry would just love it. Then she remembered her blind date tonight. Well, this cut should put Rowdy Davis off her, and that was one good thing.
Soon Aunt Lou’s scissors were moving over her hair and little curls were dropping everywhere. Some seemed to be complete circles and two inches long, or more. It was hard to tell, but it felt like Lou was taking the hair between her fingers, and cutting it close. Hopefully she was cutting off most of the curl!
“See Jeanine. See how nice and tight it still curls. I think this new solution curled it right to the root.”
Mary Louise closed her eyes and prayed this ordeal would soon end.
A whirring sound caught her attention and then she felt something warm being lightly rubbed along her hairline and over her ears. A second later there was a scraping sound, follow by a rush of cool air.
Shaved! Her aunt was shaving her neck and over her ears just like a man would get at the barber’s. She’d seen her father and other men get the smooth finish of the straight razor, but they only did that if the hair was super short. Tears leaked out from her closed eyes. Why? Why did they do this to her?
“All done!” Lou announced and she began pulling off the cape the rest of the way.
Mary Louise felt the chair turned around and knew she was facing the mirror. She didn’t want to look.
“It looks just like you described, Lou. You did a wonderful job. Mary Louise, open your eyes and look.” Her mother prodded her shoulder. “Come on now, dear. You’re a young woman. Don’t be a baby, Mary Louise. Thank Aunt Lou for giving you such a wonderful short cut.”
“You are growing up and it is time for a woman’s haircut. You’ve outgrown long hair and childish ways. Soon you’ll be graduating, and working in the adult world. We don’t have time for temper tantrums,” she added tersely as Mary Louise resisted looking.
Finally Mary Louise opened her eyes. That couldn’t be her, she told herself. She looked older, and she’d been right in her guestimate. It was exactly like the typical old ladies’ style, but it was even shorter! There was no hair at the sides to catch with your fingers, nothing to slide fingers through.
“Now, we’ll do your makeup for you,” Jeanine spoke softly and pulled out a stuffed makeup bag.
Foundation was applied, which Mary Louise never used, followed by blush and powder to set it. Her mother outlined her eyes, and applied several shades of shadow, blending them to accent her eyes. As her mother began putting on the first of several layers of mascara, Lou made a suggestion.
“I have one of those lip enhancers left. Should we use that?”
“That’s a good idea. How does it work?”
Lou pulled out a small package. “I apply these fake lips over hers, and then using the blow-dryer for heat, the medicine is released.”
Mary Louise was told to stay perfectly still and then her mother and aunt applied pads over her mouth. Soon the heat was directed at it and she could literally feel it warming up.
“Ow! Mom, it’s getting warm!”
“Hush, dear. It’s supposed to heat up to work. Focus on something else. How long does it last?”
Lou stopped and reread the directions. “If we can leave it on for thirty minutes, she’ll absorb the full dose. Wow! It will last a year.”
Mary Louise couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Open your eyes, sweetheart. I need to apply more mascara. You need to accent your eyes with this short cut.”
Time passed and Lou announced her lips were done. The patches were pulled off and Jeanine and Lou gasped. Mary Louise leaned around her mother and saw her lips looked a deeper, richer color and slightly swollen, or bee-stung.
“Shh, Mary Louise. Don’t fret. It’s very popular, getting Botox and collagen injections.” Jeanine told her daughter quickly.
Lou, who was dabbing and cleaning all the medicine off, added, “That’s quite true, Mary Louise, and men really like full, pouting lips on a woman.”
“Lou!” Jeanine snapped, but abruptly smiled at Mary Louise. “You’ll look just more beautiful, dear. Okay, time for lipstick and then you can get dressed.”
Minutes later Mary Louise was in the clock room, removing her clothes. Her mother walked in as she was standing in her underwear.
“Don’t fuss, dear. Now you need to remove your underwear. We have new everything, sweetheart.”
Mary Louise gasped when her mother handed her a lacy pink French cut panty to put on. After that she was given a skirt that came to just below her knees, but had a discrete, partially concealed slit in the front and a pleat at the back to make walking easy. The waist was elastic and had no belt. Her mother handed her a silky white short-sleeved blouse to put on and it buttoned up the front. The bottom was straight-edged, ending just below her waistline, but above her hips. If she stretched or reached for something, her bare midriff would show.