After getting my two older girls out of school early, driving all the way to Northville, and finding no parking spots near the dentist’s building, I was beginning to feel slightly harried. My middle daughter got called back to a room immediately and disappeared through the inner office door with her hair swinging. As my oldest and I settled gratefully into a couple of seats in the waiting room, an elderly man in an Ivy Cap leaned over to me and said, “Has your daughter ever cut her hair? It’s beautiful! How long has she been growing it out, I mean?” When I assured him that she has never had it cut, other than trims, he began to reminisce about hairstyles from his mother’s generation.
“No woman would ever cut their hair then. They put it up in big buns and hairdos. You know, nowadays people all seem to want that straight hair, just hanging down. Women would be prettier,” he said, “if they would put a little curl around their face. We saw Vanna White on TV, and these days she has that very straight hair. You know, she was very straight everywhere! She had no bust.” He winked a little, conspiratorialy.
Then he thought for a minute and said, “My father, he was a commercial artist for Chrysler. He did those ads like you would see in the Post, the car and the pretty lady. He always asked us; ‘What makes this beautiful? What makes that ugly?’ He really wanted to know. He also taught us that if you really wanted to see colors when everything looked drab, look at everything upside down. Really turn yourself and look. Everything will be brighter, and it will give you a new perspective! Like your wallpaper at home. You see it every day. Do you remember how it looks? I don’t!” he chuckled.
“It’s just too ordinary. Always around. But if you looked at it upside down…” He paused, and looked down in thought, and a slow smile blossomed on his face. “It would be beautiful again!”
At that moment, the door to the inner office opened and an elderly lady walked carefully through, holding on to the ledge. He rose as quickly as he could and was at her side, holding out his hand. Tenderly, he said, “Come, dear,” and they made their way carefully out of the waiting room, hand in hand, without a backward glance at either of us.
I sat quietly for a moment, then met my daughter’s eye. She grinned and mouthed “They’re so cute!” and then gently said “Mommm….” because she spotted something in my eye.