On this day before Christmas, I sit poised to write sentimentally yet somehow my candor does not feel sad. In fact I feel a quiet kind of joy that surfaces when I feel a change starting to occur. The season so far has been busy but not scattered as they can get to be. All the rush to conclude the day with a bevy of gifts never panned out and I am at peace with the fact that I did not play into all the stress. It tugs at my heart to want to see the faces that I love but alas that cannot be at this time, so I am compelled to remember and silently relive the best of times with all of them. Most of you know how that can feel and the insatiable yearning that comes from such vivid recollections.
As the music of Christmas plays softly in the background and the tree sparkles brightly in my living room, I await the presence of my Christmas memories of when my parents were alive. Those were the times that we try to recapture, the age of innocence when you did not know for sure if there really was a Santa Claus. The year of 1960 had only one more week to live and Santa arrived at our house with a bevy of brightly wrapped packages. I still recall the anxiety of my brother wanting the baseball mitt he had seen and I wanted the record player that played the big records. I wanted to move up in the electronic age. I saw them on display at our Sears and Roebuck's store. The salesman's name was Alvin (yes like the chipmunk) and I definitely did not let that one pass by referring to him as the man who has a chipmunk's name. Much to my Mother's dismay she reluctantly went over to view my find. It was a turquoise General Electric automatic record player. It came with a device that was placed over the center silver pole that allowed you to play 45 rpm records in multiples like my first player only this also let you play the album size records also. It became my obsession for the next couple of weeks, and I can't tell you how disappointed I was that it did not come home with us that evening in November. Christmas was too long to wait when I could be utilizing it now. It was not a pretty sight to see me being dragged out of the store. I used my creative skills to let everyone know just how angry I was that I did not get my way. It would prove to be a bit embarrassing for Mother. Luckily my Dad was not in range and my brother was nowhere to be found at the time, but Mother had a way of calming the situation down by mentioning "Santa Claus". While it helped at the moment it only opened the door to fuel a new obsessive desire. While other kids had visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads at Christmas time all I could see were little Decca Records spinning everywhere. It proved to be a very long holiday season for Mother as I was relentless about that damn record player. My Dad's favorite line was "just sit still" and my favorite comeback was "Can I have it NOW" it did nothing except create havoc for me, as I would not win this round till that special day arrived. I can only assume that if there were Xanax for kids my Mother would have had them stocked in the bathroom cabinet.
I would just have to keep the hope alive, and boy did I.
It was this same holiday season that I would have my first chance to go to the beauty salon with my Mother for a hair appointment. I can't begin to tell you how vivid that memory is. It was an absolute dreaded thing that I would have to go with her as my Dad had something to do with my brother and I was stuck going to a "beauty salon with women".UGH! Little did I know what lay in store for me that would magically change my life forever. If I close my eyes I can see the rooms and smell the acrid scents of hairspray, Lady Clairol and the ammonia smell of cold wave perms. There were women in rollers everywhere and each were smoking their cigarettes and drinking coffee and completely engrossed in their favorite movie magazine. It was truly my first foray in a salon and my first introduction to LIZ TAYLOR and RICHARD BURTON on every cover of the movie magazines. I learned a new word that day "trollop" it would soon be added into my own personal dictionary. The hairdressers were the epitome of high hair fashion and each had the latest in coiffures and hair colorings and I could barely keep my eyes off of them. On this visit, Mothers appointment, she was to receive hair coloring from her regular stylist. She was Miss Beatrice (aka:BEA), I read it on her name badge. We instantly bonded and I believe she knew what to expect from me in the future. I had seen my Mother pin curl her hair a lot but this place was amazing to me. Unknowing that it was not ok to follow her in the backroom, I just let myself in and started with the questions. As she took a drag on the cigarette she sweetly began to explain exactly what she was doing. I had my first introduction to Lady Clairol and what I would first call Pear Oxide or correctly referred to as peroxide and when mixed together did magical things to the hair. Between the many questions and observations I became transformed at what took place in 45 minutes. While Mother became Coffee Brown (as stated on the label) the other lady was turning to Sparkling Sherry. Red hair like I never saw before. Eagerly I watched the way she rolled the hair on those cylindrical rollers and pin curl the hair that would not fit on them. Then came the ear cotton and the dryer net that tied under the chin and then she was moved to what appeared to be some kind of space looking object that blew hot air with a timer attached. I just could not get over all of the happenings within the environment I was watching. As I sat there I realized that I wanted to know much more about the workings of this place. I made it my solemn promise to do this as often as possible as I wanted to know much more. Beatrice kept me informed that evening with every move she made and told Mother that she thought I was special. Little did I know that "special" would be referred about me more than once. It would still be a while before the light would begin to come on. I left there overwhelmed
and excited at what I had just seen. On our way home she made a stop at the Sear's and Roebuck's store. I was told to not get out of the car and that she would be be just a minute and on this occasion I did what she asked me to do. I sat in the car engorged in my first "Movie Mirror" Hollywood magazine that I had taken from the salon and did not even notice the box that she had put in the trunk. It would be the best thing I did by not looking up from the magazine.
The box that laid in the trunk was within my reach but I was too caught up in the angst of hollywood gossip to get the clue. The box in the trunk was the clue that my brother would know and use for ammunition to torture me until Christmas morning when under the tree sat the very record player that I had wanted. I recall the thrill of watching the records drop and the thrill of my first LP that came with the player. Music swirled around me all day and night and I fell asleep under the tree exhausted from the long workout called the HOLIDAYS.
The end of the year seemed like a tribute to the many firsts that happened to me during its run.
As I see where I am at this time of my life, I can correlate so many things that led me to where I am today. People that have moved in and out of my life and who dropped off pieces of my future yet I had no idea that it was happening until later in my years. When we spend a lot of time worrying about the what IF's then we have no time for the NOW's. For me I never worried about the things I didn't choose,but would obsess about the future of things yet to come. Youth should just ebb and flow with no strict rules. I created my rules as I went along and let my heart do the walking. With every step I took I found myself wanting to know the exact gate that I was to board from.