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The Beauty Box

The Beauty Box image 1

The Beauty Box ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

When Noreen set the plate of salmon croquettes and macaroni and cheese in front of Odell, he gave her a significant look but didn’t say anything. He was hoping for chicken or beef stew, at least. He didn’t like salmon croquettes; they had little soft fish bones in them that he tried not to think of as bones as he chewed them.

“Do you notice anything different about me?” Noreen asked as they began eating.

“You’re wearing a different shade of lipstick,” Odell said, barely looking at her.

“I’m not wearing any lipstick,” she said. “Guess again.”

“You got a new pair of pedal pushers.”

“No!”

She turned around so he could see the back of her head. “I’m wearing what they call a ‘fall,’” she said. “It’s an addition that blends in with the rest of my hair so you can’t tell the fake hair from the real hair.”

“Do you mean you’re wearing a hairpiece?”

“Well, if you want to call it that.”

“Why don’t they call it a hairpiece, then?”

“Because ‘fall’ sounds better.”

“The more important question, I suppose, is why do you need a hairpiece?”

“Well, I don’t really need it, but it makes my hair look better, don’t you think? Thicker and fuller? It somehow makes me look younger?”

“If you say so.”

“I went to the Beauty Box today. They have this wonderful new hairdresser named Enzo. He took one look at me and said, ‘A fall would do wonders for your hair!’.”

“Enzo is a man?”

“Yes.”

“Why is it that hairdressers are all men now? Hairdressers used to be women. Now they’re men. Men with foreign-sounding names.”

“I don’t know. Why don’t you conduct a survey?”

“Is Enzo a homosexual?”

“I didn’t think to ask.”

“Well, it seems you would want to know the sexual preferences of a person fixing your hair.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“What country is he from? Is ‘Enzo’ an Italian name?”

“If I had to guess, I’d guess he’s an American.”

“Does he speak with an accent?”

“No.”

“Do you want me to go punch him in the face for you?”

“What for?”

“For raising so many questions for which there are no answers.”

“But don’t you think my hair looks cute?”

“It looks flat in the back and pushed up on top,” he said. “The way it looks when you get up in the morning.”

“Enzo said I have lovely hair.”

“Isn’t he paid to say that?”

“He looked at my face with a magnifying glass and he said I have beautiful skin. He said a lot of women have weather-beaten skin, but he could tell that I take care of mine. He said you can tell a lot about a person’s general health just by looking at the skin on their face.”

“And if Enzo said it, you believe it.”

“It’s his business to know about those things.”

“If he told you to make yourself up to look like a frog, would you do it?”

“Of course I would!”

“Are you in love with Enzo?”

She laughed. “Hardly.”

“Why don’t you divorce me and marry Enzo?”

“That’s too much trouble.”

“If you heard Enzo talking to other women, I’ll bet you’d hear him say the exact same things to them, no matter how old and ugly they are.”

“Are you saying I’m old and ugly?”

“No, I’m just saying I’m wondering what Enzo’s game is.”

“I don’t think he has one. He’s just a very nice man.”

“He made you feel important.”

“Well, yes, I guess so.”

“He made you feel special.”

“When you put it that way, I guess he did.”

“And you gave him a great big tip.”

“I always tip my hairdresser.”

“What else?”

“What do you mean?”

“What else did you feel compelled to do for him because he’s such a nice man?”

“I bought some beauty products from him.”

“How much?”

“A hundred and eighty-seven dollars.”

“And that on top fixing your hair and selling you the fall?”

“Well, yes.”

“How much did you spend today at the Beauty Box?”

“Everything is always about money with you, isn’t it?”

“How much?”

“Three hundred and thirty dollars.”

“So there you have Enzo’s game.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“He’s a crap artist! He flatters you and makes you feel special and gets you to liking him. Then he just happens to mention these beauty products he’s selling. By that point you have no sales resistance. You wouldn’t be able to turn him down if he was selling real estate on the moon.”

“Now you’re just being silly.”

“I didn’t get fleeced out of three hundred and thirty dollars today.”

They were silent for the rest of the meal until Noreen was serving the dessert. “There’s a Doris Day movie on tonight,” she said. “It’s one we haven’t seen before. Do you want to watch it with me?”

“I told Willard I’d stop by and see him this evening,” he said tersely.

After he was gone she stacked the dishes in the sink and went to the phone and called the Beauty Box and asked to speak to Enzo. She had to wait what seemed a long time but finally he came on the line.

“Enzo?” she said. “This is Noreen Baggett. I was in the shop today.”

“Yes, darling,” he said. “I was just about to leave for the day. What can I do for you?”

“I just wanted to make sure you have me down for the seventeenth at ten o’clock.”

“Just a minute, dear. I’ll check the book.”

He laid down the phone and when he came back he said, “Yes, dear, we’re all set for the seventeenth.”

“I’m so looking forward to it!” she said.

“Well, so am I, dearest!”

After she hung up the phone, she turned on the TV and sat down in the recliner and made herself comfortable. The Doris Day movie was just beginning.

Copyright © 2013 by Allen Kopp

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