THE REGULAR
by Tairish
CHAPTER TWO

Even though she couldnít find any signs of damage, Kim kept looking for some for several weeks, in total disbelief she had come through this event unscathed. But she had. Later that summer, when she went in for her regular trim, she even asked Jill, her stylist, if she could see any signs of breakage besides the normal split ends that always formed at her present length (though she didnít dare tell her about the reason why). She couldnít see any either, because there was none. This fact finally sank in, and she let it go as Jill trimmed off the usual three inches from the length. It was so difficult for her to accept losing even that much. She wished it would grow longer still, but at least was happy with what she had. At least she still had it. The nightmare that she would have to chop her hair short as a result of that awful session in the shop was past now.

Over the next several months numerous occasions arose where Kim secretly longed to have her hair up again. But she couldnít bring herself to make the call for an appointment, as she wasnít willing to watch her hair get teased again. Despite the success last time, she figured now she had just been lucky to escape damage, and risking it again would be pushing her luck. Many an evening she tried to put her hair up in a French twist herself (without curling or teasing it first of course) only to watch it stubbornly refuse to hold and fall to the floor, or end up looking horrible and feeling completely unstable. But she didnít give up easy, figuring it was just a matter of practice and that it could be done. But after a matter of months, when she was no closer to any success, she finally gave up. Her hair wasnít meant to be worn up, and nothing short of another tortuous session in a salon would change that.

However the fall was soon in full color, and along came one of her favorite holidays: Halloween. The couple was at a loss for costumes ideas until they came across some very elegant, old-fashioned outfits in a thrift store. They would look like a very well-to-do couple from the turn of the century. Kim hadnít thought twice of doing anything with her hair except wear it down until they rented the movie ĎSomewhere it Timeí that weekend.

"Why donít you get your hair done like hers?" asked Michael of Jane Seymourís classic Victorian updo. He knew Jane Seymour had hair similar in length to Kimís.

The thought had crossed her mind too, as the look was positively stunning and would be perfect for the occasion. However she immediately shot it down. "Sheís obviously wearing a wig."

That kept him quiet till late in the movie, when she took her hair down in the bedroom scene, making it clear to them both it wasnít a wig. He made the suggestion again. "I think youíd look awesome with your hair up like that."

"I really donít want to get it teased again."

"Why not? Last time didnít damage it at all."

"I consider myself very lucky too." It was odd of Mike to be so opinionated about her doing something potentially harmful with her hair. While he was always encouraging her to explore the possibilities it provided, he was probably more cautious about its health then she, and thus his current behavior was very much out of character. But right now he seemed genuinely disappointed and even a little hurt that she would so harshly dismiss his idea. Quite honestly it was a good thought.

" Maybe I can find a wig like that," she said, and it brought a smile to his face. She was grinning inside too. It would be fun going to the party looking like Jane Seymourís twin. Past Halloween costumes involved her wearing wigs, but nothing more than the inexpensive ones found in a costume shop. This one would require one that looked totally realistic.

Kim visited numerous wig shops over the next week, and actually did find a wig that was basically the same style. Unfortunately it was blonde, and they didnít have it in any other shade. She had hoped to find one in her own chestnut brown shade, or darker brown like Ms. Seymour sported in the movie. Still, when she tried it on she knew it would be perfect for the holiday, and she excitedly brought it up to the cashier.

"How much is this one?"

"$180," said the clerk without blinking.

That was far too much money. She was willing to spend up to $75, but any more would break the bank. It hadnít been a great month at work and funds were low.

"Do you have anything similar for less money?"

"Iím afraid not."

No one else carried anything that would fit the bill either, and as the 31rst approached she knew she was running out of time for an idea. Then she remembered Michaelís suggestion of having her own hair done into the style. Part of her was actually considering it. But then, knowing what would be involved and the potential harm that could come to her mane, she balked to make the call. She lost a great deal of sleep over the issue, and finally she decided to go and talk with Gail before coming to any decision. Maybe it wouldnít be possible, and that would be that. But what if it was? She found a picture of Jane Seymour in the starring role and headed out to The Bella Donna.

The shop was alive with its normal clientele this time, plus one more stylist and a receptionist were there. All the clients looked to be senior citizens, having what was left of their thinning white hair set and styled and sprayed. Four of the hairdryers were in use. It was quite different from her normal salon. Kim could feel many eyes and ears tuned in towards her as she approached the receptionist. They probably werenít used to seeing such a young woman in this place, or were at least intrigued by an unfamiliar face.

"I was wondering if I could speak with Gail for a few minutes," she asked the receptionist.

"Iíll ask her. May I have your name?"

"Kim."

She watched the middle aged dark blonde walk back, studying her fairly elaborate bouffant. It was an obviously dated look, but somehow looked very classy on her. Maybe it was that she was here in this salon, or maybe it was just the way she held herself. She wondered how long the womans hair truly was. Probably about down to her shoulders like Mrs. Chamberlain. However, based on her last visit to this salon, it could be almost any length.

Gail looked up and recognized Kim and signaled for her to come back. She had her hands full rolling the short hair of her present elderly client.

"You were here last summer right? For the Chamberlain wedding?"

"Yes! Iím impressed you can remember."

"I never forget a beautiful head of hair." (Kim blushed a little) "What can I do for you?"

"Iím thinking Iíd like my hair put up for Halloween and wanted some input."

"Did you have something in particular in mind?"

She handed over the photograph.

"Somewhere in Time. I loved that movie. So you wanted to match Jane Seymour, huh?"

Kim nodded. "I think so, if you can do it, and if it wonít damage my hair any."

"I remember you now. You were really frightened about teasing your hair. Didnít it all work out just like I told you?"

"Well, yes. If it hadnít I certainly wouldnít be here now. But this style looks much moreÖ. challenging. It looks like youíd have to be much harsher with it to get it to come out right."

"I donít think Ďharshí is the right word. It would take more work, but should still come out just like the last one."

"And it wonít damage it?"

"No, it wonít damage it."

"If I decide to do it, do you have any openings on the 31rst?"

Gail thumbed through her appointment book. "Iím pretty well booked solid."

She could see the disappointment in Kimís face.

"Tell you what, how about first thing that morning."

"All right. What time?"

"7:30."

"Oh wow, thatís early!"

"Thatís my only opening. Saturdays are very busy around here."

"OK, 7:30 it is."

"So I take it youíre going for it?"

She looked down at the picture, trembling a bit at her spontaneity with her hair. She hadnít planned on making a decision today, just to get some input. But the words just flowed out. "I guess I am. Oh, how much is it"

"For something like that, fifty dollars."

While it was a little more than she anticipated, it was well within her budget, even with a generous tip. "I guess Iíll see you on the 31rst then."

"Until then Elise." Kim wasnít sure what she meant by then, but then remembered Elise McKenna was the name of Jane Seymourís character in the movie. She really did have a good memory.

Over the next several weeks she looked at the picture countless times, and even rented the movie again, studying every nuance of the style. It definitely qualified as a Ďbouffantí, and was definitely something she never would have foreseen herself asking for. She told Michael about it, and he was thrilled. Obviously he didnít see this as posing any danger to her hair, and he always loved seeing her in different looks. His enthusiasm had been the impetus for her learning many of the elaborate French braids she currently knew, and she had to admit she too also enjoyed exploring all the possibilities.

But this was different, and as the end of the month neared she grew more and more leery, even almost calling and canceling once or twice. However she didnít, mostly because she didnít want to tell Mike she had chickened out, plus she had no back-up plan.

And so, with the sun barely coming up, a nervous Kim stepped into The Bella Donna on the morning of the 31rst, several pictures of her desired style in hand, prepared to go through another nerve-wracking session at the hands of the elderly, yet competent, stylist.

Except for Gail, the shop was completely empty.

"Where is everyone?"

"Oh, we donít get started until eight."

Kim realized then how much of an imposition this was, and that the stylist was truly going out of her way for her. She would certainly deserve a big tip.

As she was led back to the chair, she handed over the bevy of photos. They caught the style from almost every angle. "I donít know if you need these but figured they would help." As she watched Gail look through them she still couldnít believe what she was about to have done.

"It really is possible for mine to come out like that, right?"

"Absolutely! Yours is much thicker than hers, which will make it even easier."

"Easier?"

"Sure. With this style, the longer or thicker the hair the easier it is to duplicate."

"I donít see why."

"See this big topknot. A person with extremely long or thick hair could form that with basically no backcombing. Someone with much shorter hair would have to really rat it out to make it have so much volume."

Kim understood now, but the words Ďrat it outí scared her. She wondered if that was what Gail had in store for her hair. She knew it was going to be more than last time, and last time seemed vicious to her. She again had to fight the urge to flee, and reluctantly planted herself in the chair. "I guess you might as well get started."

The shampooing part went just as last time, and Kim was growing more relaxed. However things changed when it came to setting her hair. Instead of big rollers like previously, the bin this time contained countless very small perm rods.

"Youíre not giving me a perm, are you?" Kim said, only half in jest.

Gail smiled. "No, it will just look like one. To get that much lift youíre going to need kind of kinky hair. These should do the trick."

"I donít think my hair will do that."

"Weíll just have to find out now wonít we."

Kim knew that perming long hair did unbelievably bad things to it. Many of her formerly long haired friends had gone the perm route, only to end up severely chopping it off to be rid of all the split ends and breakage. None had long hair now. Did the small perm rods cause any of this damage, or was it all from the solutions, or a mixture?

Kim sat mesmerized watching her hair wound up into the tiny rollers. She was informed the process wasnít unhealthy in the least. With a perm, it was the acidic products applied to the hair that did the damage. As more and more of her mane was rolled up, Kim couldnít get over how entirely different it looked this time, and she lost count of how many rods were needed to roll it all. It took a good deal longer than last time for it all to be done. She almost didnít notice the other stylists, the receptionist, and the handful of clients who started filtering in. But soon the salon was alive with activity and conversation again. By the time Kim was led to an empty dryer, the neighboring two were already occupied by two very senior citizens. She easily fit under the hood this time, and was much more comfortable as a result.

Almost immediately the two elderly ladies, Gwen and Abby, started talking to her, wanting to know who she was, what she was having done to her hair, and all about her. They apparently were both regulars and seeing a new face in the room was a treat. At first Kim was reluctant to say anything as she was quite uncomfortable talking to women so much older than she. But in time she grew more and more comfortable, and when the two were finally led away by their stylists she almost longed for them to stay. But another elderly lady, Claire, was soon occupying the dryer on her left, and this time she had no trouble diving right into a conversation.

By the time she was led back to Gailís chair she could understand the attractiveness of a place like this to an elderly lady. Here might be one of their only opportunities all week to socialize and be fussed over. Just the touch of the stylist brushing their hair was probably a treat, and to leave here all done-up and perfect certainly did wonders for their outlook on life.

Kim was now actually looking forward to what she would look like when the rollers came out, and she was a captive audience as Gail started removing them. The result was amazing. Kim obviously hadnít known what she was doing years ago when she failed in her efforts to curl her hair, because Gail was having no problem. Each roller ended up making little curls that ran nearly the full length of each shaft. When they were all finally out, it was all Kim could do not to reach up and touch it all. But then Gail moved in with a brush. Minutes later Kim just sat admiring her new reflection. It looked like she had a perm, as her hair seemed several inches shorter but double the volume, and her center part had once again vanished.

Of course there was a downside to all this. The teasing comb was next. Kimís palms started sweating grasping the arms of the chair as Gail started separating out the first section to be backcombed. And then, just like that, she started in on it, rapidly turning it to a mound of tangles. This time was clearly more ambitious than last, because when Gail was finished with the section and threw it forward over Kimís face, it didnít hang down against her forehead. Instead the first several inches of the roots stood up and away from her head, and then it slowly started arching towards the floor. The length and weight of the hair eventually won, but it was a slow lazy cascade the hung away from her face and body.

Noting how much more densely packed it was immediately brought up her concerns. "To undo this I do exactly what I did last time, right?"

"Thatís right. It will take a bit longer of course, but besides that it should come out just as easily."

Kim desperately hoped she was right, and tried to relax as the second section was now being transformed. Even though she thought herself prepared for this, she found watching it happening every bit as difficult as her first trip to this salon. She was thankful when the curtain of hair once again was too thick in front of her eyes and she couldnít watch any more. Only then was she able to pry her fingers off the armrests and relax a bit. In many ways she couldnít believe that she was actually doing this to her precious mane. She hoped she wouldnít regret it. Wonder if last time she had just been lucky, and this time the tangles wouldnít come out so easy, or at all? Her hands started squeezing again as she felt her head tilted forward and Gail start in on the back.

Although it took only a matter of minutes before Gail put down the teasing comb, it had seemed an eternity and Kim was more than ready for it to be over. Suddenly Gail reached under the front hair and pulled it all back behind her. The curtain lifted, Kim could now see herself again.

"Oh my God, what have I done?" she said to herself.

Last time Kim had been expecting more of a fright wig/huge hair exploding in every direction type of reflection. It hadnít happened, and she figured it wasnít possible with all her length. She was wrong, for this time it had. Her hair was flying every which way, and looked like a giant firework had just gone off. It only fell to about midback length right now as most of itís length had been transformed into a mass of knots. It was a terrifying sight. She would never be able to restore it from this. But since the knots went right to the scalp, if she had to resort to cutting it to rid it of the tangles, she might be relegated to an EXTREMELY short haircut. She had absolutely no desire to go back to those days of short hair. Thanks to her length now, she never had a bad hair day as it always looked stunning. It looked real bad now. Somehow she was able to fight back the tears as Gail just acted like it was a daily occurrence.

"I donít believe howÖ. BIG it all is!" Kim slipped out.

"I suppose it is," she said very nonchalantly. "All right now Elise, time to transform all this madness." And with that she threw it all forward again and started in on duplicating the pictures. Kim was once more blinded by her own hair, and very much still in shock. This had clearly been a big mistake. She should have just splurged and bought the wig.

If Kim didnít know the final style she was to end up with, she certainly wouldnít be able to tell by the feel of what was going on. Gailís touch was so gentle that she never felt the slightest tug or bit of discomfort, and unlike the French twist which was rather snuggly pinned in place, this felt extremely loose.

Gail did the back first, followed by the left side, and then the right. All the while the unused hair acted as a blindfold to Kim, and she couldnít see a thing. Before working on the front, Gail turned the chair so Kim couldnít see her reflection, try as she could. So all she could think of was the horrible last sight she had of her teased tresses. She couldnít imagine her hair ever being the same again. Eventually her mind became blank, as she just concentrated on holding still. Gail certainly was taking a fair amount of time with this style.

As the last hairs were being positioned, and the final pins slid into place, Kim was becoming entranced with the peculiar feel of her new Ďdo. She could almost feel its dimensions and was afraid to move her head at all, fearful it might tip over. She was suddenly looking forward to the unveiling.

"Is it done?" she asked anxiously.

"Almost." With that Gail wielded her hairspray canister and let loose on the back. Kim had hoped this wouldnít be necessary but had figured she wouldnít be that lucky. She closed her eyes as Gail shielded her face and plastered the front, sides, and finally the top. Kim could almost feel the weight from all the lacquer, and was gasping at the thick fumes in the air.

Gail handed her the picture of Jane Seymour to compare her results, and then turned the chair towards the mirror. Kim was speechless, hardly recognizing herself. The style was an exact duplicate, and thanks to the heavy layer of spray even matched in color. She gave her a hand mirror to look at the style from all sides. It was perfect. Kim suddenly forgot all about the curling, the teasing, and the spraying that went into this. She was now anxious to be in her costume and start the party. She would be the star of the evening.

"Gail, you did it! Itís beautiful!"

"Thank you. I believe it is."

Kim was concerned that all the spray would make it loose the softness of the style, but it looked absolutely elegant. She reached up and touched it, again taken aback by the texture of the spray but engrossed by the mass and flexibility of the style. She pushed it in a bit, and watched it immediately return to shape.

"Is it sturdy enough to survive an evening of dancing?"

"Oh yeah. Itís not going anywhere. Go ahead and shake it."

Kim cautiously tilted her head a bit, noting it didnít flinch at all. Then she finally gave it several good shakes. It held easily and comfortably.

Gail removed the robe. The sight of seeing herself in this outdated style in modern clothes made Kim gasp for a second. She lookedÖ.. older with her hair like this. She might easily pass for a woman in her mid 30ís, or older. Then she snapped back into reality, paid, tipped, and thanked Gail, and headed for the door. She accepted the stares and compliments of everyone else in the shop on her way, and their wishes that she have a great time that evening. These ladies sure were nice people! Most complimentary of all was the receptionist, who Kim learned was named Diane. But then Kim didnít recognize her this time, and had to do a double take before recognizing her as the same lady she had seen on her last visit. Instead of having her hair up, today it was hanging down perfectly straight. It was a very light blonde (it had looked much darker when it was up, probably from all the hairspray, or had it been a wig?) and hung halfway down her back except for some face framing layers. It was a style some of Kimís friends had suggested she try, amongst others. Plus it looked so thick and healthy! She no longer looked middle aged. In fact, she now looked younger than Kim. What a difference a hairstyle made! Kim found herself easily starting a conversation with Diane, and liked her immediately. It turned out she was only 25, and had worked in the salon for two years now.

"You know I thought for a second there they hired a different receptionist. You looked so different last time with your hair up."

Diane instinctively ran one hand down the length of her hair and smiled. "I guess I do look a bit different today. I usually wear it up, but none of the ladies have had an opening lately to do it for me."

The statement surprised Kim. Her hair looked so healthy. Having it put up regularly couldnít possibly be good for it. Perhaps the elaborate nature of her last style was an exception.

"Do you always have it done up so elaborately?"

Diane grinned knowingly. "I donít recall how it was done when you saw it. Actually, I just let the stylists do whatever they feel like. Sometimes they are pretty tame, and sometimes the results are absolutely amazing. Iíve probably worn more different styles than most fashion models. Itís all fun though, and I much prefer it up and out of my way for work."

"Do they cut it too?"

"No, unless Iím in need of a trim. Actually Iíve been growing it out since I started working here. I used to have a Ďbobí, but now itís much more fun with longer hair. More possibilities."

There was that Ďfuní word again. How could having your hair regularly tortured be fun?!

"Doesnít it get damaged from all theÖ backcombing and stuff?"

"No. I worried about that a bit at first. But these ladies know what theyíre doing."

It was a very surprising and enlightening conversation for Kim, and minutes later as she headed out the door all the fears and trepidations she had walking into the salon that morning were behind her, at least for now.

Kim was constantly checking her look in the rear-view mirror on the drive home, and noticed many an inquisitive stare from passers-by checking her out. Once home she just gazed in the mirror for the longest time, amazed that this truly was her looking back. It was both a bit frightening and fun that a hairstyle could make her look so much different. She certainly looked older, but also looked more elegant, and almost noble. She finally put on her costume for the evening and was swept away by her look into another time period. She happily wore it the rest of the afternoon as she went through a causal day at home, getting into character. She looked and felt great, and by the time she applied her makeup and perfume she could hardly contain her enthusiasm.

When Michael came over and saw her, he was speechless. Kim loved what she knew he was feeling, and had to fight hard not to give away the huge grin she wanted to show. Instead she played it very straight, just like Jane did in the movie.

Michael was totally enamored for the entire evening, finding it impossible to take his eyes off of her. Everyone at the party seemed mesmerized too, and they won the prize for best couple. Once they returned to her house, Kim asked if Mike would like to help take her creation down. He declined, asking that she keep it up a bit longer for him. Then the two of them made love as passionately as either one could remember. Mike adored seeing her look so different, so classic, and Kim adored the whole aura of the style. It had truly swept her away to another time and place.

The two fell asleep in each others arms, sweaty, spent, but unbelievably happy and in love.

In the morning Kim awoke to find her hair only slightly smooshed but basically looking every bit as terrific. It seemed much softer now, like most of the hairspray had worn off. She knew she would have to take it down soon, and wasnít looking forward to that task at all especially if it proved harmful, but would be sad to see the wonderful updo go. Obviously it wasnít fitting at all for modern day life, but it had been so fun for last night.

Mike awoke, caught one glimpse of her still sporting the Victorian updo, and immediately had to take her again. She relented quite willingly, and the couple nearly matched the fireworks of the previous evening.

Eventually Mike left, though it was nearly noon, and Kim retreated to her bathroom for the unenviable task of Ďunteasingí her hair. As she started pulling out the pins her hands were trembling a bit, and when the teased strands once more were falling down her back her fears of potential damage once more consumed her.

She stepped into the shower and meticulously repeated the procedure that Gail so elaborately detailed for her. Despite her pessimism, 90 minutes later she was once again combing through the complete length. She hadnít found any broken shafts, or any noticeable problems whatsoever.

Over the next several days Kim was constantly examining her tresses, unable to accept that it had truly survived the whole ordeal without a scratch. But it had, and eventually she accepted it. The fact of the matter was, Gail had been correct. Her hair was truly no worse for the experience.


END OF PART TWO

How did you like part 2? Keep the input coming.
Please write to Tairish at tomlg@earthlink.net


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