Lizzie was alternately morose, angry and resigned to the fact that no hairdresser on either side of the Pacific Ocean would agree to give her bangs.
I suggested that I cut them for her (remembering how my own mother would cut my bangs for me in the bathroom off my bedroom, perching me on the kitchen stool and muttering curse words under her breath as she crouched in front of me, wielding the ungainly sewing shears) but we couldn't find a pair of hair cutting scissors that didn't come bundled with electric razors, nose hair trimmers, and other expensive grooming instruments.
Then I got a brilliant and cunning plan: we'd hit up the University Coop down the street, where there are at least three hair cutting establishments of various levels of intensity (traffic, that is), two of which are hair salons. "We'll go in there and say you just want bangs, and that's it," I said.
We marched over there and went into the first salon we could find, a hive of bustling female energy. Even the male hairdressers there were feminized to the nth degree, fluttering and half-frowning as they pranced into and out of the salon. "Yes, ma'am," a woman said, getting up from her stool and storing a magazine.
"She wants bangs, that's all," I said, making the universal bang gesture across my forehead (as if slicing open the top of my skull).
"Yes, ma'am," the woman said, smiling, as she settled Lizzie into a chair and encircled her neck with the standard hair cutting tissue they use around here. (Looks like a nice toilet paper necklace to me...) "You want," she motioned at her own forehead, "like swept," and I cut her off before she could follow up on the evil phrase, side swept.
"No," I said, again severing the top of my skull with an index finger. "Just to the brow. Straight down."
"Okay," she said, grinning, and began to pin the sides of Lizzie's hair out of the way, familiar operations to anyone who, like myself, spent the first 20 years of her life with such bangs.
No arguments, no consultations, no serious lectures about conditioning, blow drying, or vent brushes, and no expectations of artistic prowess or incipient genius. A simple bang cut.
It took her about 7 minutes to give Lizzie a very cute bang, gentle and layered. She put Lizzie's hair back into her ponytail, unwrapped the TP necklace, brushed off her shoulders, and shook out the apron.
"How much?" I said.
I thought she said 40 pesos, but that didn't seem right. Four hundred? I've given up on trying to make it without asking for directions, or asking for repeats. "Excuse me?" I said. "How much again?"
"Forty pesos," she said.
"What? So little?" I handed her a 50 peso bill, feeling, still, that she deserved ten times as much for the beamish grin on Lizzie's face as she examined her new look in the bank of mirrors. "Thanks a lot," I said. "You did a wonderful job. She looks beautiful."
Everyone smiled as we walked out of the salon, Lizzie floating on pillows of air. "I really really like it," she said.
And later, when she caught sight of herself in the bathroom mirror at the Alumni building, after our yummy Chocolate Kiss treat lunch, she did a double take and gave herself another wide grin.
"You really like those bangs," I said.
"I do," she said. "I do."
(Don't worry. We'll post pictures soon!)