LUNCH WITH JENNY
(A sequel to The Three Sisters)
c1996 Airweaver

My wife Helen and I had a memorable lunch with Jenny the other afternoon. I thought Jenny was looking great. Helen agreed.

Iím talking about Jenny Springer, nee Hanson, of course. You might remember me telling you about the three young Hanson sisters, who lived near us back when Ed and Maraline were still in Berkeley. They were all nice kids, but it was their incredible hair that first caught my eye. Iíve never seen anything like it, before or since. Anyone can tell you how much I get off on long, beautiful hair. Just ask Helen. But theirs was in a class by itself.

You may remember hearing about Heather, who liked to wear those breath-taking chestnut tresses flowing down her back, a la Alice in Wonderland, to say nothing of her youngest sister, Mandy, who invariably had her thick, auburn tresses pinned up in two plump braids firmly pinned across the top of her head like a halo. Then there was Jenny. And while I canít say Jennyís hair was any more attractive than her sistersí, it was certainly the longest. She liked to wear it in this single luxuriant braid that reached, I swear, clear to her ankles. One day Ed Hanson had asked me to do a photo-shot of the three girls, and Jenny had undone that long, sleek plait before the camera. All that rich auburn hair flowed out in the California sun, ruler-straight and smooth as butter, and actually spread itself beneath her feet. I have often thought about that wonderful hair and wondered if she had kept it.

I had a letter from Jenny not too long ago, about the time she married a fellow by the name of Jerry Springer. I guessed she still had all her hair, since I remember her telling me that it was now 'getting really, really long, just the way Jerry likes it.' Jerry sounds like my kind of guy! Thoughts of that long, seductive braid floated before my eyes.

Then just last week we got a phone call from Jenny. She was back in Berkeley for some kind of conference, and "couldnít we all get together for lunch or something?" We agreed to met in a little place we know of just off Shattuck, and I admit I was more than curious to get another look at that fantastic hair. Heaven knows it had been something before. How would it look some five years later?

How it looked was spectacular, and she still had it in that braid when we spotted her. The only thing wrong from my perspective was that she was now wearing the braid twisted into a thick spiral, tightly coiled over her ears. All that long, wonderful hair I longed to see was hidden from view. Well, what did I expect? I certainly couldnít expect her to show up in a restaurant enveloped in a cape of free-flowing hair cascading to the floor.

"Hello, Jenny," Helen said, no neophyte in the long-hair department herself, since sheís been allowing it to get increasingly longer since she knows I like it that way. "Youíre looking good. Married life must agree with you."

"And you too, Helen," Jenny answered. "Say, isnít your hair a bit longer than I remember it? I can tell you mine certainly is. It just doesnít seem to know when to stop, but Jerry says thatís okay by him." (Another point in Jerryís favor.) But how could Jenny tell that Helenís hair was longer? It was, but as my wife had just joined us from school, it was still up in its work-a-day bun. A bit on the serious side, but Iím not complaining. You ought to see it when she lets it down!

Jenny seemed much more self-assured than the Berkeley teenager I remembered from years past. "Anyway, letís not just stand here talking about hair," she said. "Letís eat; Iím starved!"

All through the meal I found myself stealing glances at that tantalizing plait securely anchored to Jennyís head. The restaurant was well-lit and the light kept playing off the sheen of that luxuriant braid as she turned her head to laugh at one of Helenís jokes or over my prattle about writing projects. I could see all those deep red highlights and a hundred mysterious textures hidden within its rich twists and folds. It seemed too wonderful to be true. It was absolutely gorgeous! I asked about Jerry, lucky fellow, who seemed to be some kind of hot-shot lawyer in New York. Jenny had done all right herself, receiving a degree in PoliSci, and going to work for a law firm specializing in womenís rights issues.

Helen asked how her parents were getting on. Ed, the famous nature photographer, was off to China it seems, having been given a once-in-a-lifetime change to take pictures of giant pandas.

Then Jenny started talking about Maraline. That got us back on the subject of hair, and I stole another glance at Jennyís crowning glory. What must have been two-yards-plus of well-confined and carefully tended auburn hair stared back from that coiled braid. As a ghost writer, I put a lot of second-rate prose through the blender. The hack writers I deal with are always having their macho protagonists undressing beautiful young women with their eyes, and here I was trying to undress a womanís hair!

"Mother has been just incredible," Jenny was replying to my wifeís question. "Always trying to see the bright side of everything. Just look at the way she came back from that horrendous battle with cancer and all. It had her in a funk for a long time, but, frankly, I donít think it was the breast cancer that bothered her nearly as much as the thought of losing her hair. That was really hard on her; she was so proud of it. She had had it all her life and identified with it so. I guess thatís why my sisters and I always kept our hair long. Mandy went and cut hers a few years back and regrets it. She says sheíll never do that again. Remember how thick and pretty it used to be? Well, itís getting back where she can sit on it again, and she says itís come back even lovelier than ever, like Heatherís with a bit more wave to it. I know it sounds silly, but when Mandy and I were little, we used to be so jealous of Heather and her beautiful hair. I was always thinking, well, if I canít have hair as nice as that, at least I can have it longer."

"Well, you seem to have kept yours," I remember thinking, wondering how much longer that lustrous pile of coiled hair across the table must have grown since I saw her last, and wondering what pretense I could use to persuade her to let it down again for us to see in all its glory. How did it look when she was home alone with Jerry?

It was Helen who came to the rescue, bless her.

"You see this guy over here?," she said, pointing in my general direction. "Iíve never seen anyone so nutty over hair as my husband. Ever since weíve been married, heís been on my case about my hair. Always telling me to let it grow. I think heíd do anything for me as long as I just keep it growing. Well, I like to keep the big oaf happy, but there comes a point, after all. I donít know about you, but itís sometimes a royal pain having such long hair. Itís almost down to my knees as it is and a lot more work than I have to give it. And itís not very professional, is it? If you know what I mean. Iím sure itís done nothing for my reputation over at Cal. What do you think? Now, youíre a woman of the world, Jenny. How in the world do you manage with yours?"

"Iím surely the last person you should be asking about that," Jenny replied with a chuckle. "Being a Hanson. Actually, Iím taking a good deal of flack at the conference here this week for having long hair myself. It is a meeting all about womenís rights and affirmative action, and they keep telling me my long hair is a sign of male domination and all that bull. And I keep telling them itís my hair, just like itís my body, and I can do whatever I like with it. Theyíre the ones being dominated. A lot of slaves to fashion and image manipulation, if you ask me." Helen gave Jenny a sympathetic nod.

"So, what do I think? I think itís your hair, and you can do whatever you want to with it. Personally, I think it looks great, Helen. Iíve been around this stuff all my life, so if itís advice youíre after, Iíll be happy to tell you what I know. Say, tell you what. I have a couple of hours before my meeting starts. Why donít you come back to the hotel, and I can show you a few tricks that might help make your life easier. You can come along too, Tom, if you donít think all this girl talk will bore you."

"I think I can handle it," I smiled.

So, after lunch the three of us set off for Jennyís hotel, and I sat like a good boy in the corner while the pair of them got down to business. Helen let down her lovely brunette hair, from its normal, everyday bun (her 'professional look,' she calls it), and brushed it all out. I love to watch her brush it like that. Itís so smooth and silky. She exaggerates when she says it comes to her knees, but itís getting there.

"Oh, youíve really do have lovely hair, Helen!" Jenny exclaimed. "Itís so thick and healthy. You really should try to keep it. And youíre lucky. You can wear yours down whenever youíre in the mood. I havenít been able to do that for ages, except maybe sometimes around the house to tease Jerry.

"Now the main thing in dealing with long hair like ours is to get control of all the additional bulk it creates and avoid getting it tangled. You have to be careful whenever itís loose like this, but thereís a trick to that." She went on to give a whole slough of advice about hair brushes, and types of shampoo, and a good deal more. She really sounded as if she knew what she was talking about.

Then came the moment I had been waiting for. They were talking about different ways of binding it up. "There a lot of ways to put it up in a jiffy, she said. "Here, this would really be easier if I just demonstrated with my own hair. Yours is a good deal thicker than mine, but mineís a whole lot longer, so it amounts to same thing. Let me just take off my shoes and get up on the bed here, and Iíll show you. I just want to keep it off the floor. You never know about these strange hotel floors."

The next thing I knew, Jenny was balancing on the bed with her hands lifted above her head, removing whatever it was helding that beautiful coil of hair in place. She removed a pin or two. And then quite suddenly and without warning, the luxurient braid swung free from the top her head under its own weight. With a pleasing swish, it slid smoothly down the front of her dress like a stout rope, coming to rest with a distinct plop on the bedspread. This incredible braid was actually a good deal longer than her height! Jenny then bent forward to reach for the end, and the braid arched forward as if it had a life of its own. With practiced hands, she picked it up and quickly began to unwind it, twist by silky twist, until she was standing on the bed above us engulfed in a magnificant flood of loose-flowing hair. Jenny was buried in folds of the stuff right down to her stocking feet. I have a good memory of the photo I had taken of her five years before with her hair down like this, flowing around her like a cape. It appears to have grown about a foot since then.

My eyes were riveted to the spot. Not for the first time in my life was I sorry that I hadnít brought a camera with me. I could have gotten some wonderful shots. But I was getting quite a floor show just the same. Jenny picked up a hair brush from the night table and, holding her column of hair up and out with her left arm, began to brush it until it hung rich and smooth over the side of the bed.

"You see, itís like this, Helen," she said, carefully beginning to bind up sections of her hair to demonstrate whatever it was she wanted to show. "You can either do yours in a couple of nice braids, or just wrap it up like this. Itís so much faster. Or you could try this. Mandy once told me this was good for very thick hair." Jennyís fingers were now flying through her hair, this way and that, showing Helen all the wonderful things she could do. Her hair flowed and rippled around her like a visual poem.

"Say, thatís very clever, Jenny. I wouldnít have thought of that." Helen was taking it all in, as I certainly was. "I think Iím beginning to get the hang of it." She began fiddling with her own tresses, try out first one idea and then another. "That gives me an idea. What if we were to do something like this?" Helen had rolled her hair up in such a way that it looked better than I think I have ever seen it. It lasted only a moment while she went on to try something else. The two of them were laughing like school girls.

The time past all too quickly, and suddenly it was time for Jenny to get herself ready for her meeting. For once I think Helen was really getting enthusiastic about having long hair herself, because, as we were getting in the car to make the trip back up the hill, she said, "Jennyís a very nice girl. Iím so glad weíre both members of the same sorority." She reached up and patted her hair, which was now done in one of Jennyís new and highly attractive ideas. "Only sheís been taking post-graduate studies."


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