Going along on my usual to/from work route, I was musing on how many years I had passed each of the houses along the spine of the mountain. There are particular houses that stand out in my memory, and each of these houses has had a story built from the random musings of 8 years. I'll share my imagined stories of them from time to time. Let's start with...
The Little Old Lady with the Black Beehive Hairdo House. Her small house is at a bend in the road that let's me know I am getting close to home. It is as neat as a pin, with two matching, weathered outdoor statuary deer. When I first was aware of her, she had just gotten out of her car and was moving briskly toward the front stairs. Her hair was a rigid, inky black beehive, piled straight up - at least a foot - on top of her diminutive head. It has enough hairspray on it to catch the sunlight and glisten! I almost went off the road. I was captivated, and have kept an eye on her house ever since. Once in a while on nice mornings, she would be seated on her white plastic chair on the small stoop in front of the front door - coffee cup in hand, glistening black adornment on her head. I would toot and wave and she waved back. Then I didn't see her outside for the longest time. Then her car was gone. Fully a month later, I saw her car there again and my spirits lifted. But I didn't see her for another six months. She was sitting on her white plastic chair, with her hands folded in her lap. Gone was the magnificent beehive, replaced with a short, white cap of her natural hair. I tooted hello, but she didn't glance up or wave. I was sad. She is still there - I can see the lights on as I drive home in the evening. Her car is gone - most likely sold by the family. I still toot the horn as I go by in the morning. We cannot fight the toll of the years, glistening black beehive notwithstanding.
Beehive hairdos always make me think about a neighbor on the street where I grew up. Mrs. S. (we would NEVER have used an adult's first name! It would have been the equivalent of uttering "Voldemort" for you whippersnappers) was a hairdresser by trade and wore her hair in an industrial strength beehive. She also chain smoked and would fascinate us, as she rasped out a conversation, cigarette firmly gripped in the corner of her mouth. It got very exciting when the cigarette ash was particularly long, and her conversation got more and more animated. We held our breath, waiting for that ash to hit the ground. We were so easily amused back then... Like our family, they had a VW Beetle as a second car because they were cheap. And both cars had manual transmissions. While Mrs. S. drove hers like a German tank captain, our mother never mastered the art of shifting. We clung to the hand straps for dear life as we whiplashed from first to second gear. So, naturally, when we got into the car with Mrs. S., we immediately reached for the straps. It always annoyed her. In those days, and in that neighborhood, all the families were interchangeable. When it was time for vaccinations, a rotating roster of mothers would load up all the kids and drive them to the clinic, where we sat around the perimeter of the room on metal chairs, waiting our turns. I hated being last - you had to sit through all the screaming, which made your (well, my heated) imagination create images of bloody needles and evil doctors.
As I've gone through the years, I found that I wasn't far off the mark.