Archive | 4:21 PM

The Sister-in-Law

16 Jan

Shaun Minor
Mary never, never liked her brother’s wife.  When Tom had seriously courted Shaun, Mary, then sixteen, explicitly told him not to marry her.  He did anyway.  It was one of the few times Mary didn’t get her way, and Mary always held that against Shaun.  Aside from the affront that Mary was not in control of her closest brother, the new wife didn’t ease her transition to the Minor family for Mary.  She was, by nature, pushy and mettlesome.  It was quite by accident, and a peccadillo offense, but Mary always too this personally.  Shaun was a social butterfly and made herself at home in the Minor family, offensively touting herself as the matriarch-in-grooming to the Dayton community.  This did not sit well with Mary, who grew up as part of the old-time Minor family–SHE was blood.  Also troubling to Mary was the fact that Shaun Minor didn’t realize her failings. Shaun’s presence in Mary’s life, as her favorite brother’s wife no less, antagonized Mary fiercely.   This sister-in-law of hers had no shame!

Shaun always had good intentions and a heart of gold, but she could be a little fanatical in her actions–her biggest fault was that she was just too much.  The town sort of tolerated her gossiping, and overlooked her social spasms.  Shaun moderated her lack of social skills with compassion–she would help anyone.  She has one of the biggest hearts in the community, despite her loose-lips.  She would try to help anyone, but she could be tangential and had a way of spreading information like wildfire–attributes Mary loathed. Also, Shaun knows all about the inner workings of the Minor family, including the fact Mary is gay.  Nothing will palliate this for Mary.

When my family and I met Mary’s sister-in-law, Shaun, she was a tyro substitute teacher and expert busy-body.  She offered to show us around the area she knew so well, which was nice because we were from out of state.   I think she also helped my mom get her teaching job, which helped get my dad’s foot in the custodial door.  So as a family, the Le4l’s owe a lot to Shaun’s generosity.  This is not to say we don’t get annoyed by her strong personality or lack of social etiquette sometimes.

When I was in fifth grade, Shawn subbed for my teacher, Miss Solari.  I was going through puberty and simultaneously trying to downplay any relationship with my parents.  I had gotten so much grief that my mom was a teacher at my elementary school that I loved the reprieve from my family.  For once, I was just Lau7el to the other kids at school, not that teacher’s kid who gets everything because her parents work here.  So what misstep Shawn employ immediately?  While she’s taking role, she calls my name and says she knows me, “Tell your mother hi for me!”  I was mortified and pissed off by her lapse (or absence) in judgement.    Then, after lunch, my class is silent reading and Shaun Minor has the nerve to ask me to be her little helper (not her exact words) and pass out papers.  I could NOT have that so I pretended to rub my eye and gave her the middle finger.  Shaun just needs to learn how to temper her urge to talk too much.  As an aside, at my very first real job ever, my boss, Mary Minor teased me about flipping off her sister-in-law.  Leave it to Dayton to remember every negative incident in a person’s (childish) past!

Mary had never mollified her disdain for her brother’s wife.  Even before I was close to Kim and Mary, I realized Mary could not stand Shaun, and did not consider her to be a true member of the Minor family.  Most annoyingly to Mary her sister-in-law didn’t allay the situation by being intimidated by Mary.  As rude as Mary was to Shaun, her in-law acted as if she didn’t notice the slights, and carried on like a legitimate member of the family.  Her sister-in-law was one of the few people that Mary disliked but could not exile from her life.  If Mary had her way, Shaun would be cast out of her family to be a mendicant.

The Hairdresser

16 Jan

Depending on the audience, Kathy’s plastic personality could be molded–she was a moral, all-for-the-children type to my mom, church-going, craft-maker to Del, and heavy drinking good-time girl to Kim and Mary.  I hadn’t realized in all the 16 years that she cut my mom’s and my own hair that she was so wily and phony.  My mom stopped getting her hair cut with Kathy, but I did not know it was because she thought the hairdresser was affected–I chalked it up to more of my mom’s craziness.  I mean, my mom stopped dying her heir too!  And when I left Nevada for Missouri, all of the Greens had been hanging out with Lana, Kim, and Mary.  It didn’t seem abnormal or put-on that Kathy was a large part of Mary’s life when I returned to Nevada years later.

As I had done the entire time I lived in Nevada, I called Kathy when my hair needed a trim.  It was at a point when Mary and I were both very busy and not communicating much.  I chalked the dearth of communication between us up to two overly full schedules.  The location of the beauty shop had moved from the strip mall outside of Dayton’s first casino across the street from the strip-mall the veterinary hospital had been in to Carson City.  The name, still had Prophecy in it, but it was now the Shear Prophecy.  Little did I know with the change of location everything else was different too.  I was the first appointment of the day (9 AM?) on a Wednesday.  I worked it into my busy schedule by skipping my first class or two in Reno.

I noticed right away how thin Kathy had gotten.  This surprised me because she had been getting chubbier when I left Nevada a couple of years prior, AND usually as people age they get a little thicker.  I saw right away not only was the hairdresser thinner, but she was dressing younger.  She wore fitted jeans and probably the same type of vest Mary favors.  Even her walk seemed more artificial.  Her hair was blonder than I remember, and maybe a little taller oo-though she had never lacked on curl or body.  As Kathy washed my hair, she didn’t talk about what her three kids were up to, school, or the community of Dayton as she used to.  She insincerely name-dropped how she knew so-an-so, cut the Carson sheriff’s wife’s hair (at their house), and went on and on about her apartment in Carson City.  It was like a new person was cutting my hair!  No trace of the avid-reading, church-camp-attending mother that used to embody her at all.

As Kathy peered into my face, trying to see if my bangs were trimmed in a straight line, I could smell remnants of cigarette smoke and minty gum.  I had never know her to smoke, and was surprised at this too.  She was so phony at this point I did not to what to believe anymore.  Most strangly, during my hair cut, Kathy’s cell phone rang and she (rudely) answered it, saying, “Yes, I’m cutting her hair now.”  Not that I cared, but I knew someone who knew me, and that knew the fact I had a hair appointment was the one who called.  This suspician was confirmed when Kathy hung up and pretentiously announced Mary had called her.  While they were both supposed to be in the middle of a work day.  This struck me as weird.  Why would Mary call Kathy when they were both at work?  Also, I knew they must have talked previously about the fact I was getting my hair cut that day. . .

I was unsettled to say the least, after my trim, but worst of all was what happened upon check out.  Firstly, the price of a hair cut had gone up considerably since I had last seen Kathy.  I did not have enough cash on hand even though I had stopped by the ATM immediately before my hair cut.  I always carry my debit card so it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Except, Kathy read out the price, I handed her my card and she rang it for that exact amount.  When I got the receipt slip to sign–there was no tip-line.  I was horrified.  What kind of debit card reader, especially at a service place, doesn’t include a space for a tip?!  I stared at the slip trying to figure out a way to tip, the just gave up and told the hairdresser I hadn’t realized I needed her to run the card for the price plus my tip.  I wanted her to run the card again to include gratuity.  Anxious to get my out of there (to resume a phone call by chance?) Kathy said not to worry about it, “This one’s on me.”  I felt terrible, and embarrassed, and didn’t want to feel like I owed her anything.  But sheepishly left without tipping.

While I was gone Kathy had separated from her husband, Doug, but didn’t divorce him, giving him hope and leaving the door open so he could still lavish her with gifts, money, and his insurance benefits.  What I was slow to understand when I came back was that the gestation of Mary and Kathy’s relationship went from neighboring business owners, to cheating lovers in just three or four years.  After some contemplation, it made sense that Kathy had yoked herself to Mary.  I supposed Kathy had always been fulsome and insincere in her marriage to Doug because his family came from money and she needed capital to own her hairdressing business.  Maybe the entire reason the hairdresser married Doug was to use his family’s money to attain her dream.  After Doug’s family sold the Dayton Depot and adjoining strip mall causing Kathy lost her business, I think she became close to Mary to aggrandize her social status, and her pocketbook.  The hairdresser was excessive in her relationship with Mary, suddenly pushing into the center of Mary’s tight inner circle.

Kathy and Mary began to emulate one another:  Both had the same tall, overly blond hair, thin waistline, high-water slacks, manner of speech, and selfishness.  Artificial blond hair-dos to match their affected personalities–it was a match made for trouble.  Kathy was a pretentious social-climber who loved the bonhomie of the Cabin-Mansion, and made a huge effort to schmooze the most important people.  Kathy, I quickly found out, was not the wholesome small town hairdresser I thought she was when I was growing up, she was no neophyte at manipulating people to get what she wanted.  She was sickly sweet when she wanted something-whether that something was money, insurance benefits, or information.

I found Kathy’s transformation (or secret personalty) noisome and repulsive.  I openly glowered at Kathy when she had the nerve to come to Kim’s birthday party, and allowed (drunk) Kim to sit beside her on the bench with her arm draped over her shoulders.  Kathy must have felt awkward or ashamed at the birthday party, because she was not cloying as usual, but stayed outside, was the most reticent I’d ever seen her, and left early.