Whether it was Aaaaaugh! or Eeeeeek! or Ooooooh! no juxtaposition of letters would have done that shriek justice.
Hot iron? Puncture wound? Home intruder? Those were the thoughts I remember spiraling through my head. And yes, this shriek actually lasted long enough for me to consider all three options.
And after the scream came the eerie silence. Do you know the silence I’m talking about? It’s paralyzing.
But when I heard the shriek, I knew what I had to do. First, identify the shrieker, and next, the nature of the scream. Rushing in too quickly was not the answer. Parenting 101 says never rob a child of an opportunity to resolve a tricky situation on her own. (Besides, I was in the middle of loading the dishwasher.) So yes, in the past, there had been shrieks for spiders and screams for broken flip-flops. But this time, it sounded like someone was in trouble.
It had come from upstairs, where I knew all three girls were safe and engaging in one of their favorite activities. It was salon night and Daddy had a long overdue haircut appointment. The waiting area had been prepared; there were stickers and a lollipop to reward the good boy. He even had a coupon, designed and printed out by our medium-sized daughter. It was good for half off the evening’s services.
Clips, combs, scarves, headbands – over the years, the hair on my husband’s head and even his beard had seen it all. My all-time favorite? A little game the women-children liked to call “How many ponytail bands can we fit on Daddy’s ears?”
By this time though, salon night had become more practical in nature. At ten, the oldest had grown quite proficient with the clippers, keeping what was left of her dad’s hair buzzed to a consistent length. And the other two were adept at customer service.
But that shriek earlier had been unnerving. Now I listened as one of the girls bounded down the steps. The sobbing was desperate and uneven. Her chest heaved as she tried to calm herself. And when I held her close, I could feel her heart pounding. Are you hurt? What happened? Is Daddy missing an eyebrow?
“Sam… made… Daddy… bold,” the youngest choked out, still trying to catch her breath. I knew he liked it short, and Sam wasn’t exactly a pro with the clippers. But bold – um, bald?
This I had to see.
Genuine belly laughs resonated from the number one customer in the salon – also known as the bathroom – on the second floor.
Lindsey took my hand and together we walked upstairs. Unable to look at her sister’s handiwork again, she retreated to her bedroom. “Daddy’s bold, Daddy’s bold,” she muttered over and over as she headed down the hall.
“Close your eyes,” said Robin, when she heard me approaching. This wasn’t good. The stylist was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down her cheeks. And what was that in her hand? The plastic trimming guide that was supposed to be on the clippers, of course.
“We’re calling it a reverse mohawk,” my husband said. A two-inch swath of white scalp separated the two hemispheres of brown hair. It was a style that trumped the ponytail-banded ears any day.
After Sam evened out her work, Robin assured the customer he looked just like Andre Agassi. We all compared the experience to the sheep-sheering we had seen the previous weekend at Meadow Farm. Then the girls requested payment. “You’re telling me I have to pay for this?” he asked, rubbing his bald head.
Finally, more than a little relieved, Lindsey tiptoed back into the bathroom to offer Daddy a lollipop, a Shrek sticker – and her condolences.
Obviously, it was a salon night to remember at the Schwartzkopfs.