Janet had just turned forty two, yesterday, and she had been feeling lonely. She walked up the driveway of the old Victorian Mansion. The wind pulled her grey business suit, and tossed her long dark brown hair sideways as she tip-toed her high heels across the cobblestoned drive to the high arched doorway. It had been a decade since she had seen her Aunt Glenda, then Janet had been thirty two, but she had not changed in her tantalizing looks, since she had left. In fact people still told her she looked thirty two.
Aunt Glenda had always been the matriarch of the family. After college, Janet moved away to pursue her career in business accounting in St. Louis, Missouri. She rarely visited the family anymore since they had always been very rigid, and they lived so far away, in the good ol’ southern town of Baxter Springs, Kansas.
After three knocks, Aunt Glenda opened the door. “Well, Janet! It has been so long!" The elderly woman of four foot nine reached up and hugged Janet, who stood stiffly at five foot eleven. “Dear, come in! Come in!" Janet followed her aunt into the dining room. “I have just made dinner, a pot roast, and I was hoping you would be joining me. How long will you be visiting me for?"
Janet looked at her watch. “Well, I was just stopping by for maybe an hour or two."
“Well, dear, it has been so long. That is such a shame. I was hoping you would have stayed a bit longer…What, it has been five years now?" Aunt Glenda frowned and pouted shaking her head of white tight curls.
“Well, I guess about five," replied Janet.
“Oh come now, can’t you stay a little longer. A day or two, and visit with me?"
The elderly woman looked forlorn, and Janet felt really bad that she had neglected her family for so long.
It was a Friday night…
Janet sighed. She hated the strict rules that she had to live by with her family as a child. But, Aunt Janet looked really happy to see her. Maybe she would treat her differently now that she was a full grown woman. ..
“Well, okay, Aunt Glenda, but just until tomorrow."
“Well, alright!" the elderly lady grinned. “You can stay the night, and we will go shopping, and get you a new wardrobe, and maybe visit the beauty salon."
Aunt Janet reached her hands up to Janet’s hip length brown hair and lightly combed her fingers through the ends.
“I remember how we used to always put these in braids when you were a little girl. Your hair is still the same length…How old are you, dear?"
“Forty two, yesterday…" replied Janet.
“Well Janet, you are much older now, you need a more mature look. Don’t you think?"
Janet’s stomach felt queasy. “Um, no…" replied Janet, Janet sniffed the air, “I think your pot roast is done." The elderly lady turned and briskly walked into the kitchen. “Well, yes it is."
Janet followed her aunt into the kitchen and seated herself at the table. She was glad for the distraction. It was rumored that once Aunt Glenda’s mind was made up about something, it could never be changed, but after that, there was no more talk of hair.
The two sat at the table and ate the dinner, chatting until midnight. At that time Aunt Glenda showed Janet her room, and the elderly lady wondered off to bed.
The next morning, Janet heard a knock at her door. “Dear, Janet, are you awake?" called Aunt Glenda.
“Yes, Aunt Glenda!"
“Come on out dear, I made waffles, your favorite!" called her aunt.
Janet got dressed in her suit from the day before, and walked out into the hallway and down the stairs.
Aunt Glenda was seated at the kitchen table, sitting and smiling up at her. A plate of waffles gleamed with butter and syrup. Alongside it was a tall glass of orange juice, and a small plate of steaming bacon. “Hurry up and eat dear, we have a long day ahead of us."
Janet sighed and sat down. She ate most of the waffles, and downed the orange juice, all in about five minutes.
She followed her Aunt Glenda out to the old Buick. She would go along with her Aunt’s game of driving through town, and looking in a few shops, and she would be on her way…
The elderly woman drove through town, and parked alongside a square, right in front of an old salon.
“I have to get my hair touched up dear, and I would like to pay for a touchup for you." The grandmother looked at Janet.
Janet sighed. “Okay, a touchup."
The two walked into the salon.
Walking through the doors of the salon, Janet could smell hair lacquer.
A woman in her sixties with a short gray poodle perm walked forward. “Glenda, is this my 8 o’clock?"
The woman looked Janet up and down. “Well, I have my work cut out for me. What will it be, then?"
“How about a consultation?" replied Aunt Glenda.
Janet shook her head. “Just a little bit of a trim."
Becky huffed, and looked at Glenda.
Glenda looked at Janet sternly. “Dear, I am paying for this. Come on. You need a more mature look. You are forty two." Her Aunt Glenda and Becky led her over to a chair at the sink. “Sit down dear." Janet shook her head. “Come on Janet. You need this. Do it for me, just this once." The two elderly women firmly helped Janet into the chair. “Just a few inches," replied Janet, grasping for control of the situation. Her loins tingled, and she felt ready to either pee, or do something else. Her head was gently lowered into the basin, and her long hair flung into the sink. Becky gently sprayed steaming water over Janet’s scalp, and applied shampoo. After a minute of massaging the shampoo through her hair, Janet felt her scalp begin to feel warm, then hot and tingly. She could smell peppermint.
“What did you put in my hair?" she asked.
“It’s a wash in perm solution dear. I work by the fly. This stuff will take in about a minute." Becky continued to massage.
“But, I like my hair straight," replied Janet.
“Sweetie, long lifeless straight hair is a thing of the past. Now, sit up so I can dry you off."
The beautician applied a towel over Janet’s head and scrubbed it dry.
Taking the towel away, Janet’s once long straight gleaming hair was shrinking into a tight perm that stopped just below her shoulders.
Janet was then led over to a salon chair, where she sat looking at her reflection.
“Um, how long will this take to wash out?" she asked.
“Dear, this is a permanent. This shampoo breaks the proteins of your hair making it permanently tight and curly."
Becky popped a pair of clippers. They hummed to life.
“Dear, I am just going to clean this up a bit. You will love your new look."
Janet looked over at the front of the salon. Her aunt was sitting in a waiting chair. She just smiled and nodded sincerely at Janet.
“Might as well go all the way dearie…" Janet looked up into the mirror as Becky rode the humming clippers up the back of her nape to the back of her head. Pull after pull, Janet could feel the backs and sides of her hair being shaped to firmly hug the sides of her head. She could see the mound of her once luscious hair, now firm and curly, piling up on the floor.
Pass after pass she could feel the clippers climb over her ears to her temples. She could feel the wind of a nearby fan blowing across the tingling hairs of the back of her head. Janet opened her eyes. A brown severe cap of curls sat atop what was once a beautiful woman’s head. The sides of her hair had been buzzed to a velveteen sheen. Becky quickly stepped in front of her. Janet could feel the cold metal of scissors snipping closely around her ears. Looking in the mirror, Janet could see Becky had given her pointed sideburns.
“Be right back dear." Becky walked to another station, and was back within a minute.
The older woman applied wax strips to Janet’s brows, letting them sit, she deftly ripped them away. She then applied a cold wet electrolysis gel above each eye. Wiping it smooth again, Becky pulled a dark brown brow pencil from her apron side pocket. Biting her lip, the beautician drew a light thin arch over each brow.
Moving away from the mirror, Janet saw that she now truly looked like an older woman. Not one of thirty two or even forty two. Janet looked fifty. She felt her stiff hair, knowing that her looks were now a thing of the past. She was now one of them, an elderly woman.
Aunt Glenda stood gleaming beside her. “You look much more mature, my dear. You look like a Lady. Do you love it or what?"
Janet smiled at her aunt, accepting her fate as a more mature woman.
The two left to look for dresses.
Maybe Janet would stay a little while longer. She was no longer the same woman.
Stroking her smooth neck, and running her fingers through her tight perm, she began to smile. Perhaps Aunt Glenda was right…
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