21 Hair by Marni
Somewhere on the road to Rocky Marni takes her own scissors, in her left hand, slipping thumb and middle finger through heavy metal loops and sits down in a chair before a mirror. One hand a scissor, the other she uses to sleek down her neat, black bob. The morning sun spills in and around and splashes the floor like golden water. Marni leans forward in her chair and from a selection, on a narrow ledge just under the mirror, set out with soldier precision, on a pale blue towel, a baby’s towel, embroidered at the hem with a row of yellow and white ducks, Marni takes great care selecting a black, tail comb.
On the road, on the highway; the highway to Rocky, close to her driveway, angled just enough to catch the eye of a driver, there is a sign.
Hair by Marni.
Marni’s full attention is her bob, she likes it just so, inky black, just below her ear, like Uma in Pulp. She snips her ends, an expert millimetre. She replaces the comb and then slowly brings the scissors as close as she can to her eyes, until the word Belgium is simply a blur.
The phone on a narrow table behind her is silent. Her appointment book, empty.
Today is Thursday. Tomorrow Friday. The day after, Saturday.
On the highway to Rocky, a car. Inside a young man and a woman. The woman is having words with the driver. Irresponsible. Dishevelled. An embarrassment. A total embarrassment. She tells him to stop rolling his eyes. But his eyes aren’t rolling, he’s just reading a sign in his rear vision mirror and he pulls over in dust, slows, then arcs the wheel and accelerates. A U-turn.
It’s nearing 11, when Marnie looks up. A man, by the look of him a Farmer, steps our of his car, flicks his door closed behind him with a strong hand. Marnie watches the woman inside the car apply lipstick. When the woman and the man enter Marnie’s front room, her Salon, the first thing Marnie does is check the woman’s finger – not engaged. But flighty. Taking to much care, asserting too much control, pushing an ownership she has not yet been granted. Marnie knows her number.
As Marnie smiles, it’s the man who speaks first.
Can you fix me?
Sure I can. Take a seat.
Marnie offers the woman a magazine and a chair. The woman chats loudly across the room, filling in the blanks of what was already blatantly clearly – on their way to a wedding.
Without asking, Marnie makes an executive decision – she’ll apply the Heat Wrap, a warm towel across the shoulders to settle him down; followed by a shampoo and feather cut; maybe a manicure and he’ll be on his way looking right handsome.
And all the while, the woman talks blanks, more blanks.
Marnie and the young man have a conversation of reflections, their knowing eyes continue to meet, every now and then before glancing back at the woman whose eyes never leave her magazine. Fearful of silence, the woman is prattling.
The young man, unaccustomed to any sort of pamper, but used to prattle begins to feel a little uncomfortable, a little self conscious. His expectation being a mere scissoring, instead he’s getting Marnie’s full blown deluxe, but her attention fills his soul. He allows himself to be at her complete mercy.
Now, Marnie spins him away from the mirror to complete his manicure. At first he thinks this a deliberate act of kindness, so he can chat with more easily with his girlfriend. But what he comes to realise is Marnie’s stealth, her intelligence for what she has done is spin him face to face with his future.
Sitting in the chair with the dark bobbed woman working dirt from the nails of this farmer, the man is hit by a revelation. Never before has he stopped to consider his future. Everything up to this point has been a series of non-conscious decisions. A bit like walking – placing one foot in front of the other. But here, now, he sees it all. With every flick of the girlfriend’s mag, another year passes. He stares, nausea rising, watching her age, decade after weary decade, her drone unchanging, year after year passing, flick, flick, flick. This is it. This is his life. He is on the way to a wedding with who? Who is this woman. He stares but no longer recognises the girl, his girlfriend, in the chair before him. Flick, flick.
Marnie, finished now, spins him back in his chair, back to the mirror and smiles a gentle, small all knowing smile. She nods at his reflection, at his new face. And what she does next is unprecedented. She bends down and kisses the Farmer on the ear. Softly, with love unfounded, yet universal, love immortal. The man catches her eye, a boy lost stands, takes a bill from a fold and places it silently down on the blue baby towel with the yellow and white embroidered ducks.
Then, he gets up, walks outside, to his car, gets in and turns the key.
Marnie watches him till he turns out of the drive, watches him burn away, Dust.
And only now the girlfriend stops talking.