27 Strands and a Cup of Coffee

It was time for a trim, so I plopped down into the fun hydraulic swivel chair and began to babble with my hairdresser about stuff that you routinely babble about with your hairdresser.  I had just had a mini-massage and was feeling good for the first time in weeks.

At one point, my head was bowed and as I peeked through my wet mop of hair, I caught a glimpse of legs extending from the chair next to me.  One leg was crossed over the other, with a kicky pair of sandals at their ends, showing off freshly polished toes.  I couldn’t hear the conversation, but as one leg bobbed up and down, I could tell she was enjoying her time in the chair.

When my hair was combed back, I raised my head and glanced sideways to see who was at the other end of the happy legs.  A tiny woman, somewhere between 70 and 80 years old, was looking into the mirror and a smile had completely taken over her face.  Her eyes were sparkling, and she rarely took a breath as she chatted away.

I still could not hear her conversation, but it didn’t matter.  I saw the hairdresser’s hands massaging her head, and realized that she had, at best, 27 strands of hair on her head.  His head was bowed low over the top of her.  His mouth was practically touching her scalp.  He was paying attention to every word coming out of her mouth.  He alternated leaning forward, and straightening up to use his comb and scissors as he gently sculpted those 27 fine blonde strands.  He never took his attention away from her.  Each strand was lovingly combed, trimmed, conditioned, massaged and blow-dried.  And all the while, he looked at her and he listened.

I left before she was finished.  I have a feeling he took longer than he needed.  I wonder if she looks forward to her appointments.  Does she have stories saved up to tell only him?  Are there others in her life who are listening to her stories with such rapt attention?

Today I found myself in a tiny town.  I was an hour early for a funeral, and went in search of breakfast.  The first to pop up on my Google search was, not surprisingly, a hole in the wall.  But the reviews spoke of friendly people and good food.  In that order.  It took three tries to find the place, and there was no parking.  “Pam’s” was the size of a one-car garage with no air conditioning or bathrooms.  A tiny television on the far wall, a loud fan, and sticky floors greeted me.

I took a seat at one of the only five tables and grabbed a menu.  I had a clear view through the café toward the front door and counted twelve barstools.  The woman who took my order looked like someone’s grandmother, and the one at the griddle like someone’s aunt.  A bald man came in and greeted everyone, and I assumed he was related as well.  Suddenly, I felt like I was having breakfast inside someone’s home.  The coffee was good.  The breakfast basic, but delicious.  But I knew there had to be more to why this tiny shed of a diner not only existed, but had a 5-star rating.

There was one solitary man sitting at the bar, and it looked as if the barstool had been his for years.  I didn’t see any food in front of him.  There may have been a cup of coffee.  He was leaning forward, almost across the bar.  The woman behind the griddle was leaning toward him, her chin perched in her hand, and was listening as he told a very animated story.  She didn’t look bothered, and she never turned away.  She listened to every last word and laughed and smiled…and paid honest attention.

I left before he was finished.  I wonder if he looks forward to his cup of coffee.  Does he have stories saved up to tell only her?  Are there others in his life who are listening to his stories with such rapt attention?

I haven’t written much in the past few weeks.   My mood has been dark, and I wanted to wait and write something light.  Funny.  Uplifting.  And then today happened.  It was bookended by a funeral in the morning and a birth in the evening.  In between, I hugged old friends, and we laughed and cried about stories old and new.  We wondered why we didn’t get together more often, and made the usual promises to change that.

And… out of the blue, I had friends contact me to say they had noticed I had not been writing.  They not only missed my blog, but wondered if I was okay.  They didn’t leave before I was finished.

And yes, I look forward to writing.  I have stories saved up to tell only you.