by DiVoran Lites
Ellie’s Diary Continues
We went into a former stall in the barn that had been made into a cubicle. I’d seen it before when I learned how to milk the cow. In the cubicle, a shelf was attached to the wall with a piece of mirror over it. I noticed right away that it was a poor, cloudy, mirror. Thinking a man like Aldon deserved better, I decided to ask Grandmother to send a new one in a fine silver frame. Perhaps it would be our store’s first mail order.
“Here’s the razor,” Lia said, picking it up and handing it to me. It had been next to a bar of soap and a rose patterned, china shaving-mug with a hog’s bristle brush projecting from it. Granddad used something like that a long time ago. I would watch him whip soap into a lather with the brush and apply the froth to his face to make the razor glide over his whiskers.
“I wonder why Aldon has such old-fashioned shaving equipment,” I said, opening the razor. “During the war, The Gillette company issued safety razors. That’s what most men use nowadays.” I moved the blade vigorously over a strop hanging from a nail on the wall –swoosh-swish until I sensed it was sharp enough to cut Lia’s hair.
“Aldon is – how you say – sentimental,” Lia answered. “The shaving equipment was his great grandfather’s.” Once again, I wondered how she knew so much about the man’s personal life.
We moved the desk chair to the middle of the floor, and Lia sat down. Laying an extra towel over a stack of hay bales, I began by parting off sections of her head to work on. The razor had been sharpened so many times that the edge was thin and sliced through the hair as if it were butter. At the first stroke, Lia started talking. That always happened in a beauty salon; it was as if our patrons’ need to communicate was connected to having their heads touched. We stylists had been trained to listen like amateur Freuds without much comment or advice.
“I learned to pick grapes when I was five-years-old,” Lia mused aloud. She paused to watch me drape the first long strand of dark wavy hair over the towel covered bales. I was glad she didn’t panic when I started as so many others had when their life-long growth of hair was assaulted. I hoped Signor Solano would be as happy as she was about it.
“Papa taught me to work hard when we lived on the Solano estate.” Lia went on. “He was their vineyard manager at the time. Because his parents were dead and he had no sisters or brothers, my job was to play with Signor and Signora’s grandson, Enrico. We were the same age. No matter what we did, his grandparents never got angry because he was their prince. But when we slid down the banisters and landed in the potted plants scattering dirt, the servants took revenge by hiding our favorite toys, or persuading the cook to hold back dessert. Without me Enrico would have been a lonely, small boy and without him, I was only a fat child.”
When I started to protest, she held up her hand to stop me. “But my mama and my papa loved me.”
As she talked, I cut and laid locks of hair alongside each other on the towel. As I looked at the shiny treasure, I realized it would make a beautiful wig. Grandmother had made sure I had classes in wig-weaving so I could fill orders for wigs and postiches. I was a qualified posticheur.
“Would you like to have a wig for special occasions?” I asked Lia, pausing in my cutting to wait for an answer.
“Why would I want a wig?” she inquired tilting her head in puzzlement.
“You might want longer hair for dress-up occasions.”
“I might want longer hair if Signor is too disappointed that I have cut it. Yes, you may make me a wig. I will pay you for it, but I don’t know if I will wear it or not. What I truly want is a marcelled bob like I have seen in the magazines.”
“All right, that will be easy with your naturally wavy hair. And thank you, I will work on the wig in the evenings. I’ll send for my equipment right away.” I was excited. There was nothing more soothing than tying wigs. It would be a good way to support myself when I grew old, that was if I didn’t end up in the department store. I’d have to mind my manners to make sure that didn’t come to pass.
“Now let us change the story. I am looking forward to the grand musicale,” She looked up at me. “Will that not be divertimento?”
“Yes, it will be fun,” I said. “I hope Aldon won’t be angry about our using his razor. I’ll definitely leave it sharpened when we’re finished.”
DiVoran’s Promise Posters, Paintings from Go West as well as other art can be purchased as note cards and framable art