There’s a handsome man in the beauty shop, but when he opens his mouth I realize he isn’t handsome. He’s annoying.
He’s walked in and settled himself in a brown plastic chair against the wall, way behind the one I’m sitting in. He acts like it’s his personal chair.
He’s snortling and saying things about Alaska, trying to get my attention but I’m not giving it. I am not in the mood to amuse a strange man.
My granddaughter, 9-year-old Lexi, is getting her first Beauty Shop haircut.
She’s sitting transfixed in a high booster chair in the regular salon chair in front of a large mirror. The stylist, a sixty-something woman with slicked back long, long, long dragging reddish/gray hair, is snipping and snapping around Lexi with a sharp pair of silver scissors.
I’m thinking the stylist needs a haircut really badly.
The man in the back chair keeps nattering on. Lexi’s beautician, and the other one in the shop, largely ignore him.
Both ladies are methodically cutting, whacking, and curling their client’s tresses.
Three young boys walk in. The oldest asks if anyone can cut his and his brother’s hair.
“Just have a seat,” they’re told. “We’ll be with you shortly.”
The two youngest boys look like they are in early grade school. These two boys grab seats and the older one, about fifteen, sits next to me.
He looks part Asian. The other two don’t.
I’m wondering how this family got mixed and what might be their interesting story.
Lexi ignores the boys. She is too involved in her first real haircut and maybe too young to feel embarrassed by her wet straggly head of hair and her butt on a little’s kids booster seat.
Everybody’s quiet. Everybody except The Man In The Back Chair Against The Wall.
“My name’s Skeeter,” he says. “You sure have nice weather here. I’m from Alaska.”
The boys are very polite. They nod toward the man and acknowledge him.
The boy next to me says, “My name is Ronnie and my little brother’s are Ace and Cash.”
The client who is getting her hair curled is finished now. She’s about eighty and she leaves happily with a tall pile of red curls standing straight up off the top of her boney head.
Ace, who looks about six-years-old, is called by the other stylist to get in the vacant chair for his cut.
The woman asks if the boys are having a nice Christmas holiday.
Skeeter speaks up. “I wrote a book,” he says. “I got it right here.”
The boys turn towards him to look but I don’t.
Normally I like people. I want to get right into their personal business but for some reason I don’t want to even look at this man. My gut is growling, saying, “Ignore him. Don’t even bother to be polite.”
“Yes sir,” Skeeter is saying, “I wrote this book because Jesus Christ saved my life. And Jesus Christ will save yours!”
Ah ha. So that’s it. That’s why I’m so cold towards him. He’s a zealot. I’ve been a zealot myself about many things but I have hopefully put most of my ‘zealotism’ aside. I like to think I have matured.
Skeeter bangs the book on his knee. Bang bang bang!
I fervently hope he doesn’t choose me.
“I was lost and now I’m saved! Give your life to Jesus, people! Jesus is our savior. He’s the savior of the world.”
The little brother named Cash is sitting on the other side of his big brother. He wiggles in his chair, screws his eyes on Skeeter and shouts, “I don’t believe it. You can’t prove it. You can’t prove anything about Jesus one way or the other!”
I swing around and look at the little kid.
Skeeter flies into a frenzy.
“You don’t know God! You’re an abomination. Jesus is Lord! Without Jesus you wouldn’t be here!”
Cash is insistent as he yells back, “Prove it. You can’t prove it! I don’t believe it. Prove it to me!”
I lean behind Ronnie and whisper to Cash, “How old are you?”
“I’m eight,” he says.
I can’t believe an eight-year-old is standing up to a fifty-year-old man, much less a raving zealot. The kid is taking him on. Wow. What a kid.
Skeeter finally stops sputtering and spiting and is quiet. But, not for long.
He gets up and comes to the center of the small room with his book in hand. He looks at all of us.
Lexi remains silent, which is unusual for her.
The man wags his book through the air.
Then he walks over to teenage Ronnie and hands him the book.
“You need this,” he shouts. “You need God. You need Jesus in your life. You need the Lord!”
Ronnie mumbles, “Thank you.”
“Want me to sign the book for you?” says Skeeter as he takes a fat felt tip pen and scrawls his name across the entire cover.
Then, he walks back to his chair and collects his things. I figure he thinks his work is done here. He’s saved another sinner.
He walks past Ronnie on his way out, blesses him, exhorts him, praises Jesus to him then tries to slip past eight-year-old Cash. The little boy immediately shouts, “I don’t believe that shit! You can’t prove it. If you could prove it I might listen to you but you can’t prove it!”
Skeeter stops in front of the kid and booms “God has your name! It’s written in His book!! And the day will come…He will smite you down!”
I’m amazed. This man is yelling and arguing religion with an eight-year-old!
Cash continues to give back whatever Skeeter throws at him. It’s chaos in the shop.
Finally, Ronnie reaches behind Cash and elbows his little brother in the neck.
“Shut up,” he whispers.
Quiet restored, Skeeter waves a grand good-bye and leaves.
Wow. I sit back in my chair. Except for the sound of snipping scissors, the room is quiet.
“Who,” I finally ask the beauticians, “is Skeeter?”
They tell me he’s a man that likes to come in and visit them a lot.
Ouch. Having a constant disruptive visitor like Skeeter while I am trying to work would be my version of hell. It seems like he would be bad for business.
The shop remains eerily silent. I sit in wonder and stare into space.
Abruptly, Ronnie leans near me and whispers. “I’m sorry I’m crying.”
Whaat? I whip around and look at this high school boy. Tears are puddling down his cheeks.
“I grew up in two different families,” he says. “One believes in God and one doesn’t. I don’t know what to believe. It’s too hard.”
He’s sobbing out loud now, hunched over and looking down at Skeeter’s book.
“What Skeeter said is tearing me apart,” he says. “Will I go to hell?”
Ronnie begins to make tiny wailing sounds.
I grab his arm and say “No. God is in everything. We’re all God. But there are many belief systems and many religions about all this.”
I start patting his arm now.
“Everybody thinks they have the right religion. Skeeter thinks he has the answer for sure but it’s his answer. It may not be yours and it doesn’t have to be yours. You have lots of time to find your own belief system.”
Ronnie is snuffling and choking.
“You don’t have to decide right now what religion you believe,” I repeat. “Actually, you don’t ever have to decide if you don’t want to.”
The lady cutting Lexi’s hair is as concerned as I am and offers her take on Jesus, which leaves room for Ronnie to make up his own mind.
Ronnie is calming down a bit.
Then the other beautician suddenly stands up straight like she has a bean pole up her bottom and shouts, “Skeeter choosing you for that book is a sign from God! You’re chosen by Jesus to spread His works! Praise God!”
Ronnie collapses again.
The woman brings him a box of tissues.
But, now I have reason to thank God too. Lexi’s hair cut is finished and she hops out of the chair. And thank God she is happy with the cut, and thank God we can leave, now.
I’m upset and shaking. I’m shaking for Ronnie and I wish I could do more for him but he’s already in the chair getting his hair cut by the woman who thinks the most wonderful thing in the world has just happened to him.
As I walk out, I feel I have deserted Ronnie–thrown him to the lions, so to speak!
“That was very, very odd, Baba,” is Lexi’s take on the matter.
Lexi and I drive to the grocery store. I’m trying to settle my nerves but it’s not going to happen. Not yet.
There’s a man following me in the store!
He’s tall, rather good looking, and younger then I am by far.
He’s trying to catch my eye but I ignore him. I’ve had enough of handsome men for one day!
He trots after me aisle by aisle and suddenly I realize the man is singing Christmas carols under his breath!
Finally, I manage to lose him with a few quick turns, somewhere between the bell peppers and the cat food.
Once outside the store with Lexi, I have forgotten him as we push the cart together towards my car.
Suddenly, I hear weird noises and turn around to look. It’s him! He’s raising and jerking his eyebrows at me, trying to get my attention.
I keep pushing the cart but faster, dragging Lexi along with me. I am not afraid of the man, he’s harmless. I just have had my fill of odd men today.
The man trails us, still singing Christmas carols!
When we get home I tell Bill about Lexi’s and my adventures and how rattled I am.
Later, Bill (who has apparently been thinking it over), tells me with a laugh that all of these occurrences are just “Seasons Greetings.” I look at him and say, ‘You know? I believe you’re right. And with all these various ‘Seasons Greetings’ it’s no wonder people freak out during the holidays!”
Everything comes to a hot whitehead with the holidays. Families go whacky. People go whacky. The world goes whacky. I’m glad the holidays are behind us for awhile.
But Lexi has the best outlook on the day.
“It has been a Fun but Odd Day.” She says, “It has been a FOD-day Baba”
PS: To be clear: It’s not any one religion at issue here. It’s the way that fanaticism and terror have often been used to bring people to various belief systems. Unfortunately and sadly, the use of terror has often been very effective.
However, how much more effective might it be if one is left free to see and choose religions (or anything!) on their own merit? Or not.
*An idea: If you like my posts please consider emailing them on using the Email a Friend link above. Or share it on Facebook. I am doing my best to add a little cheer to the world. (Ok, well, with the unsuspecting help of my family and friends!)
“Venus, love this! I am a medical transcriptionist and several years ago I had a female ER doctor dictating a note on a gentleman who had come in with priapism. The doctor’s final sentence was, ‘I told the patient if he experiences another erection to call me immediately.’ I about fell out of my chair laughing!”
Second Winner – Stacey Hendricks under “The Worst Party I Ever Went To.”
“Waaaay better than being pinned at the xmas dinner table and having your mother run down the table of diners and letting each one of them know exactly how much they had disappointed her that year! Made me forget the real reason for the season!”
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