CUTTING REMARKS

What only her hairdresser knows. For sure.

Rudy is a North Dallas hairdresser. No. Rudy is a North Dallas hair designer. “’Hairdresser,” says Rudy, is as offensive in the upper echelons of the trade as “beauty shop.” Even “hair stylist” won’t do.

Rudy spends at least 60 hours a week cutting, curling, and coloring hair. For those skills, Rudy’s regular clients spend an average of $500 a year each on their heads. Many of those clients sit quietly, appreciatively, allowing Rudy to practice his art, to craft the curls that slim a lantern jaw, to shape the waves that shade a wrinkled brow. They put their heads in Rudy’s hands and trust him. Rudy likes that. But there are other clients. For them, Rudy’s services must go beyond appearances. The relationship between Rudy and those clients is as volatile and as necessary as that between an accused felon and his attorney, a penitent and his priest, a neurotic and his analyst. Sometimes Rudy is amused, sometimes he is appalled. But always he listens. He gives them what they want.

Take Barbara Babcock, for example. Mrs. Babcock is 36, lives in North Dallas, and shows up every other week for a session with Rudy. Today she is. as usual, well-tailored, well-groomed; but she also looks slightly haggard. Teri, Rudy’s receptionist, greets her and ushers her to the Shampoo Room. Soon properly shampooed, she reports to Rudy’s chair.

“How are you. love?”

“Oh, Rudy. Fatigued. Fatigued is what I am. I could gladly sit here in your chair all day. Ugh. Don’t I look tired?”

“I wouldn’t say tired, no. I’d say you looked, oh, a little ruffled. Just a little rough around the edges. Nothing a little polishing can’t cure.”

“No. you’re too nice, Rudy. I’m a mess. Take me. Do something with me. Fix me.”

“Look here, your neck is strung tighter than a banjo. We can’t have a pretty head of hair sitting on a tense little neck like that. Here now. Close your eyes and relax a bit.”

“Yummmmm. God, Rudy, I think you massage even better than you cut hair. Maybe you should have been a masseur. Oh, mmmmm,. . . don’t stop. Forget the haircut.”

“No, no. I’m very excited about your hair today, Mrs. Babcock. I’ve got an idea.”

“Good. Do it. Anything. Anything will be an improvement. No . . um . . . well, wait a sec. Tell me, um, tell me what you’re going to do. I mean, at least I get a sneak preview, don’t I ?”

“”Aaahhh. She does not trust me, does she?”

“Oh, of course I do, Rudy.”

“Good. Then trust me.”

“Uhhh . . .”

“All right, all right. Here’s what I want to do. I want to show the world your eyebrows.”

“What?”

“Your eyebrows, love. They’re sensational. Absolutely the sexiest eyebrows I have ever seen. They even feel sexy. And look at them: they’re buried. See? All this has been bunched up over your forehead and around your temples. Those gorgeous eyebrows are being strangled in there.”

“Sexy eyebrows. Really, Rudy. Do I look that gullible?”

“Yes.”

“You’re right. My eyebrows are incredibly sexy.”

“That’s better. Now. Such eyebrows need a stage, you see. So we must open up the curtains. I want to pull all of this up and back on this side and then shape it behind the ear so … Ah, wait, wait … I’ll show you … Have you seen this newest issue of Town & Country! When I saw this the other day. I thought immediately of you. Where was that … Ah. Here you are. This is you. love.”

“Yikes. This?”

“Almost. Not quite so angular. A little softer. But close.”

“Good Lord. Rudy. I’m ready for a change, but not a head transplant. This is Dallas, Texas. Rudy. I might make it on Fifth Avenue with that, but I don’t know about Preston Road.”

“Ah, that’s nonsense, love. This was New York six months ago. This is Dallas now. It’s perfect. Sophisticated, yes. But so easy. You could brush it with your fingers.”

“But, Rudy, it’s so … I don’t know … so wowie. you know. I mean, I walk out of here with that and it’s like ’Hey Dallas. Look at me. I just went to my hair stylist and got this tres chic new doo hot out of New York. I am with it.’ I mean, really, when I walk out of here, I want to look like I haven’t been here. Uncon-trived beauty, you know?”

“Hair designer.”

“What?”

“Designer, not stylist.”

“What?”

“Nothing. Listen. That’s all in your mind. A perspective problem. You’re just not accustomed to change. You have to be unafraid to change yourself.”

“Well . . .”

“Remember what I said when you first came to me? I told you, ’Mrs. Babcock, you need a change. No one should look like Connie Stevens anymore’ . . .”

“Okay. okay. Don’t get nasty.”

“But wasn’t I right? And it’s time again.”

“Yeah, but Rudy. This. This is pretty extreme, isn’t it? I mean it seems a little out of character for Barbara Babcock, mother of two, sometime tennis player, sometimes wife.”

“Sometime wife?”

“Oh. Rudy … I don’t know. I think I mentioned to you last time about my husband. Didn’t I? I don’t know. You probably don’t remember. I don’t know, Rudy. I’m real confused about Don. Actually. I guess I’m real suspicious about Don. He’s always been very sensitive with me. I mean sensual, you know?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“But in the last month or so. I don’t know, he’s been kind of distant. I mean, he just doesn’t touch me as much as he . . . you know? I don’t know. Rudy. Maybe I’m overreacting. But I just wonder if he’s . . .”

“Mmm hmm.’

“I mean, I’m no fool. It happens all the time. There’s no reason to think Don’s any different. Do you think I’m just imagining things?”

“Mmmm. no.”

“No?”

“I mean. uh. yes. Yes. I suppose you’re. urn, you’re probably . . .”

“Probably just overreacting. Yeah. I mean, all relationships go in cycles. This is probably just low tide, or something. I guess.”

“Well, maybe, like I said, you just need a change.”

“You mean, maybe I should . . .?’”

“Well. I was thinking more of your hair, actually.”

“Oh.”

“Perhaps your husband is just a little, say, bored with the same old you. Maybe you just need to offer him something a little fresh, a little different to look at. That’s why this new hair design is good for you.”

“God, Rudy, you sound like Marabel Morgan.”

“Except that I’m a man.”

“Well. I’ve never understood why that business can’t work both ways. You know? I mean Don could sharpen up his act a little too. I mean, those baggy khakis every Saturday don’t really set my loins on fire. God. he could at least get some new underwear. Something besides those ridiculous blue boxer shorts. You know, like some of those little silk bikini numbers? I swear. I’ve been thinking about buying him some of those ever since we saw Saturday Night Fever. You know where John Travolta is in his bedroom getting dressed to go out dancing? Strutting around the room in those tiny black silk underpants, with his . . . God. what a specimen.”

“Mmm hmm. Here, you want to tilt your head forward just a little bit? Good.”

“Yeah. Rudy. I’m sure you’re right about a little change every so often. That’s why I’m so glad we’re getting away next week. Did I tell you we’re going skiing in Utah? Snowbird. We’ve gone some place different for the past three winters. And it always works wonders. Especially for Don. Well, for me too. And this year we’re not taking the kids. They’re ready to mutiny over that decision, but it’s final. And I couldn’t be happier about it. Have you ever been skiing?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“Do you like it?”

“Like what?”

“Skiing.”

“No. skiing is something I’ve never done.”

“Rudy, you’re not listening to me.”

“Forgive me. love. I’m just concentrating on your hair. And I’m delighted with the way it’s turning out here. You see what I’ve done? I haven’t gone nearly so short with it. and I’ve retained all of this motion along the sides. Just kind of softened out what you saw in the picture. There. What do you think?”

“Well. . . yes. Yes. It’s well, not nearly as scary as I’d imagined. It feels good. 1 like it.”

“I’ll tell you, love. If I were to spot you next week in that ski lodge in Utah. I’d say ’There’s one of those incredible Dallas women – and she understands her hair.’”

“Oh, get off it, Rudy.”

“And then I’d ask to feel your eyebrows.”

“Rudy, you’re incorrigible.”



“The total is $34.50, Mrs. Babcock.” “Okay. I’ll write you a check. Teri. And would you please set me an appointment for two weeks from today?” “Sure. Hey. your hair looks terrific.” “Thank you. I got the full treatment. Rudy’s b.s. was thicker than ever. Today it was my sexy eyebrows. Can you believe that? Sexy eyebrows. I love him.”

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