by Shaara voted
Losing your hair is only part of Chemo, but it was strangely what bothered me the most.
|The Writer's Cramp "The Writer's Cramp" task: write a 1000 words or less about a wig, a greasy spoon restaurant, and a car salesman.
Note: This story is entirely fictitious, but I bet we all know people who've gone through this.
I knew it was time to visit the wig shop. Mary, my best friend, and Charlie, my husband, had both offered to go with me, but I didn't want them seeing what I looked like. I wanted to do it alone. My hair was coming out faster each day. Soon it would be gone, gone, gone. I'd be bald then, bald as a volleyball, or an eagle, or a new born baby. A tear slipped. Angrily I wiped it away. Such silliness, I scolded myself.
I should have gone sooner, but I was too sick Monday; it had been a treatment day. Tuesday was spent dealing with the after effects, Wednesday -- well, Wednesday, I'd felt good – far too good to spend the day shopping; I'd gone to the beach with Mary. And then yesterday, Charlie had taken me out for lunch, and for once, I’d felt like eating.
But here I stood, staring into the mirror, and my comb had a fist full of hair...I couldn’t put it off anymore. I had to go look at wigs. I stuck a purple hat way down over my head, fluffed up the wisps of bangs that still remained, touched up my lipstick, and I was out the door, and heading for my car.
Another faultless day -- I stopped and made sure I breathed it in. Things were going well with my blood counts, but one's vision shifts when doctors start talking odds and weighing chances.
Orange roses were blooming marmalade jam colors. The calla lilies were bursting in white, the fuchsias competing with brilliant splashes of hot pink, and the lawn was just the way Charlie always liked it -- green as miniature shamrocks and manicured perfectly with vertical lines of cut. I sighed with the pleasure of it, the sweet flavor in my mouth, the scent of green. Then I slipped into my white Toyota and started up the engine.
Traffic was light. I sailed by Kim’s Oriental Market, Joe’s Used Books, and The Greasy Spoon Restaurant. They were all old friends. I decided that after my purchase, I’d treat myself to a new book and lunch out, and if I felt up to it, I’d pick up the fixings for Chow Mein, one of Charlie’s and my favorites.
I parked in the city lot, locked the car, and made my way to Wow Wigs. As I opened the door, the bell jingled. A tall, young man made his way toward me.
“Good morning,” he greeted me. “May I help you?”
You’ll never know how close I came to backing out of the store that moment. I could have dealt with an elderly lady assisting me or even a kindly older gentleman, but Mr. Hollywood with his arm muscles and chest bulges was a bit much. I looked for someone else, but the two of us were alone.
“Um...is the owner here?” I asked, wondering what I could say to excuse my rejection.
The man's eyes were studying my hat. I was pretty sure I knew what he was thinking. I took a step away, pretending interest in a blond Dolly Parton hairpiece.
“Why of course,” he said with a smile that bloomed sunshine. “My name’s Bobby, and I am the owner.”
There was no escape for it. If I wanted a wig, it looked like he was the one who was going to have to wait on me.
I sighed. “I’m… I’m looking for something in my hair color...” Please don’t let him ask me to take off the hat, I prayed.
“How delightful! Here, I think I have just the thing,” he said, moving toward a larger display over on the right. “What length are you interested in?”
The shiny black fabric of Bobby’s shirt scrunched and flexed rhythmically with his walk. I was magnetized. I loved my husband Charlie, but I wasn’t so old that I could fail to appreciate the masculinity of a handsome man’s body. My eyes slid along the fabric, enjoying the sight.
Bobby handed me one of the Styrofoam heads with hair attached. The curls on it felt almost real. I stroked them for a second, trying to picture what the wig would look like on my head.
“Come! You must try it on,” Bobby urged.
I handed the head back and shook my head. “No, I don’t think that…” I was backing up, ready to bolt from the store when Bobby reached up and pulled off his baseball cap.
“Look,” he said. “Peach fuzz. Do you see it? My hair’s starting to grow again. How far are you along?”
He was a Chemo, just like me! I expelled the air I’d been holding and dropped down into a nearby seat.
“You, too?” I giggled. “I thought you were...” I didn’t know how to finish the thought. My face grew hot.
It didn’t bother Bobby. He pulled over a chair, sat down, and started talking. I learned about how he used to be a car salesman, how he'd discovered that his headaches were more than stress, and how his latest tests said he was in remission. He told me about buying the store when he hadn't been able to sell cars anymore. I understood completely when he talked about people avoiding him. I'd already felt that. It was like people thought we were contagious or something.
The hour slipped by. Bobby ended up talking me into buying two wigs – one that matched my real hair -- or what I had left of it -- and a blond Dolly Parton hairpiece.
We decided to eat lunch together at The Greasy Spoon. Bobby talked me into wearing my new wig – the one that matched my natural coloring. I was dreadfully nervous about wearing the wig. I figured everyone would know the hair was fake. I thought they might laugh. But as we walked in, no eyes riveted to me. No one snickered or stared. The two of us sat down in a booth, sliding into opposite sides. As Bobby kept up a stream of jokes and conversation about his experiences in the wig shop. I began to relax.
We ordered hamburgers and chocolate milkshakes. It was that kind of menu, that kind of place -- fat city! Of course, neither of us had the appetite to finish the meal, but we enjoyed what we ate, and we laughed and talked like old friends as we shared common experiences.
I drove home that evening with a new book I’d purchased, groceries from Kim’s Oriental Market, two wigs, and a smile on my face.
Then later, I put on something slinky from the bottom of my lingerie drawer, made up my face, and turned on some gentle jazz. When Charlie got home, dinner was ready, and so was I.
An . . . my new Dolly Parton wig was a delightful success!