I hope you have your hair mousse at the ready; your clippers oiled and your shampoo in a lather and enjoy this week’s episode of Queer Tango. Please excuse any typos.
Episode 35: Gaynor and Her Clippers
Gaynor was due to go back to work and, she’d thought before she had Liza, that she’d be happy doing something other than change nappies. But, she’d spent months dancing around with the cutest baby in a wig-bonnet and the thought of leaving her to cut people’s hair felt… weird.
Still, she used to be an adult who could have conversations without singing or making baby-talk so she could fit back into work easy… right?
‘Me an’ Liza will take a walk an’ then I’ll drop her to Glynnis’ for a nap,’ Stan said with his best reassuring smile over breakfast. ‘I’ll report in and we have plenty of bottles. You just enjoy shaving people’s hair off.’
Gaynor nodded because she had a reputation for being moody and no-nonsense. ‘Glynnis is good with babies… if you don’t count Trevor.’
‘She is,’ Stan cooed to Liza who giggled in her highchair. ‘She dances too.’ He smiled and fed her a biscuit. ‘And Andy will bring Agnes over so you have a dance partner.’
‘Or gurgle-dance partner,’ Gaynor said in her daftest baby-talk voice.
Liza giggled and thunked her fists to the table attached to the chair.
‘Give your mother a giggle then,’ Stan said, freed Liza from her chair and swooped her up before holding her in front of Gaynor’s cheek.
Gaynor leaned in and Liza giggle-kissed her which made Gaynor giggle then try not to burst into tears. ‘I expect one off you too, you know.’
Stan beamed down at her and pecked her on the lips. ‘Always happy to assist.’ He hoisted Liza up and onto his shoulder to do the ‘burping-salsa’ and Gaynor got up, breakfast half eaten and headed out of the door before she rang Diane and quit to be a full-time mum.
She trudged down the street in a daze trying to remember how adults walked. It was harder without the pushchair or Liza nestled on one hip. It even felt weird that she wasn’t dancing.
‘You need to move, luv,’ someone yelled her way.
Gaynor looked up. She was at the pedestrian crossing which was flashing at her.
The driver in his van waved at the lights. ‘You moving then?’
Gaynor nodded, dazed and wandered over the road.
Someone beeped then beeped harder. ‘Get out of my way!’
She glanced to her left. It was Trevor and he was hollering at Hedges who was waiting patiently for Gaynor to cross.
‘You want to do up a shoelace or something?’ Hedges called out of the window to her. ‘Or shall I pretend I’ve broken down.’
Gaynor smiled but she wasn’t really with it.
Hedges stuck her flashing hazard lights on, climbed down from the huge truck and bustled over. ‘You feeling okay?’
Gaynor peered down at her. ‘Think so.’
‘Are you sure because you’re only wearing socks,’ Hedges said and pointed down at her feet. ‘They are very nice socks and the little sticky pads on them are useful but not really on a pavement.’
Gaynor shrugged. ‘I forgot my shoes.’
‘Yes.’ Hedges took her by the arm and led her off the road only for Trevor to roar by in a convertible. ‘You forgot your coat too. I do like your dressing gown but it’s not really waterproof.’
Gaynor shrugged. ‘Liza gave me a giggle-kiss.’
‘Is Liza with Stan?’ Hedges chewed on her lip then glanced up at Diane’s salon. ‘Do you need me to call him?’
Gaynor shook her head. ‘I’m going to work. He’s walking Liza.’
Hedges eyes softened. ‘Oh, baby-bubble issues.’ She hugged Gaynor and squeezed. ‘They are so difficult to break through but work will help.’
‘Baby-bubble?’ Gaynor fished in her pocket for her phone to check on Liza but her dressing gown only had a dummy in it. She stared at it then burst into tears.
‘Shhh… baby-bubble is when you are used to being mummy and you’ve forgotten how to be Gaynor… some mums find it harder than others.’ Hedges led her up the steps into Diane’s salon. ‘Diane?’
Diane swung out from the back room with her brush, a perming cone on her head, and lunged into a tango hold. ‘Hedges, my husband is wonderful.’
Gaynor stuck her dummy in her mouth. She might have baby-bubble or whatever but Diane was insane. Who married a man who couldn’t trim his own beard?
‘Is he?’ Hedges asked as enthusiastically as always. ‘Did he manage to get through your routine without using the George mat?’
‘No, but he made me a fry-up for breakfast,’ Diane sighed a wistful sigh. ‘And he even changed his apron.’
Hedges giggled behind her hand. ‘I can’t get my husband to change his work trousers unless I wrestle them off him.’
Diane guffawed. ‘That’s why you have twins.’
Hedges tutted then waved her hand then giggled. ‘Gaynor on the other hand has baby-bubble.’
Diane ‘ahhh’d’ then looked Gaynor up and down with her usual doctor-hairdresser stare. ‘Hmm… socks… dressing gown… dummy… haven’t done your hair… eyes are puffy… are those baby-biscuits?’
Hedges rifled through the other pocket of her dressing gown. ‘Biscuits, a spoon with a cute bear on it and a teething chew.’ She met Diane’s eyes. ‘And she smells of baby lotion.’
‘Baby-bubble,’ Diane confirmed and ushered Gaynor over to a chair. ‘You left Liza with Stan, yes?’
‘Then we need to bring out your grown-up side again.’ Diane held both sides of the chair. ‘You’re a hairdresser, you love hair.’
Gaynor shrugged. ‘Liza wears a wig-bonnet.’ She burst into tears then put the dummy in her mouth and sang to herself.
‘Liza is happy eating biscuits with Stan. He’s got a baby-utility belt and he can change nappies.’ Diane held out her hand to Hedges. ‘Hairbrush.’
‘Yes, doctor.’ Hedges grabbed one and handed it over.
‘Gaynor, your hair hasn’t been your own for months. You haven’t so much as styled it.’ Diane tried to pull the brush through her hair then shook her head. ‘She has split hairs here… We need a full wash and blow-dry.’
Hedges gasped. ‘Can you tidy her up?’
Diane rolled up her sleeves. ‘I can try… I have to try, she even has biscuit stuck in it.’
Hedges hung her head. ‘I used to get milk in mine. I’d change my top and they’d both be sick down each shoulder.’
Diane patted her on the back. ‘Wheel her in.’
Hedges shoved the chair over to the basins and Diane removed Gaynor’s dressing gown. It seemed odd to be in a chair or smell adult soaps. Familiar yet it was vague beyond the no-tears shampoo smell.
‘We’ll need two shots of the shampoo, a curl smoother and then some extra smoothing action conditioner.’ Diane flicked the gown around Gaynor’s shoulders and Hedges took her hand.
‘She’s the best, Gaynor… she’ll sort you out.’ Hedges patted her hand. ‘I should have realised you would struggle. You haven’t worn jeans for months.’
Diane lowered Gaynor’s head back and started to wash. ‘When I had my youngest, I got baby-bubble so badly that my late husband had to take me by the shoulders and tell me to put the steriliser down.’
Hedges nodded. ‘I didn’t get out of my pyjamas for a long while. Mr Hedges had to get my mother to help. He couldn’t even have a conversation with me without making baby-noises.’
Gaynor smiled. ‘Liza likes it when I talk that way.’
‘She does, sweetheart, and you can talk to her and giggle-kiss her but you need to find your grown-up again because Liza needs to see that you are a strong, wonderful, talented woman who she can be inspired by,’ Diane massaged through the tangles. ‘A grown-up woman.’
Gaynor nodded. ‘Do you think she’ll like me as a grown-up?’
Hedges smiled. ‘She’ll adore you… between nagging and asking for pocket money.’ She glanced at Diane. ‘My daughter decided she was taking a job as a maid for Glynnis’ parents.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘She keeps ringing me to ask for translations because she can’t understand what they’re saying.’
‘They speak a different language?’ Diane asked massaging and soothing away Gaynor’s tears.
‘No, they just speak properly. Posh.’ Hedges grinned at Gaynor. ‘So I have Mary-Lou calling for translations and now my daughter… although I got confused and told her that when Glynnis’ father called Trevor a dummy that he was saying he was a pacifier.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘She thought it was hilarious and texted Mary-Lou who teased me about it.’
Gaynor sucked on her dummy then blubbed.
‘We’ll sooth in some conditioner,’ Diane said as she washed off the shampoo. ‘And I’ll use your favourite banana scented one.’
Gaynor sniffed. ‘I like banana ice cream.’
‘You like banana flavoured rum too,’ Hedges said with a gentle smile. ‘You like rum.’
Gaynor vaguely remembered but it was muzzy. ‘Gripe water used to have rum in it.’
‘I know,’ Hedges said with raised eyebrows. ‘I was disappointed when I realised they’d removed it. I used to like it with rum in it.’
The scent of banana filled her nostrils and Gaynor could remember dancing on the bar at the Bee and giggling with Diane over Andy taking off his shirt. She was sure she might have whistled at Stan and thrown her arms around him.
‘It’s your fault,’ she muttered.
Hedges nodded. ‘She’s getting grumpy, the conditioner is working.’
‘He got me pregnant,’ she muttered and then folded her arms. ‘The dumb idiot got me pregnant.’
‘You both got you pregnant,’ Diane said as Gaynor wagged the dummy through the air. ‘And you like that you have a baby…’ She winced at Hedges. ‘We don’t need her too grown-up.’
‘You like Liza, and you like Stan. You think he’s hunky.’ Hedges smirked then chuckled to herself. ‘You really drank too much when we decided to go to dance classes.’
Gaynor sighed. ‘He got me pregnant.’
‘We’ve established that.’ Diane took the dummy off her. ‘Wheel her to the cutting station.’
‘Yes, doctor,’ Hedges chimed and shoved Gaynor over in the chair.
‘Scissors.’ Diane held out her hand.
Hedges handed her them and peered over her shoulder.
‘Comb.’ Diane held out her other hand.
Hedges scurried to get it for her. ‘Are you trimming?’
‘It needs more than just a trim, look at those scraggly bits,’ Gaynor muttered to herself in the mirror. ‘It’s nearly as greasy as George’s beard.’
Diane smiled as she snipped away. ‘That’s it, there’s the Gaynor we sort of like.’
‘I gave birth, Diane. Me. I’m wearing jogging bottoms for comfort.’ Gaynor folded her arms. ‘I’m even going bra-less.’
Hedges sucked in a breath. ‘Is that wise… with that much milk?’
‘It’s not just milk in there, Hedges, I’ve always had good boobs.’ Gaynor narrowed her eyes. ‘He let me leave the house in socks.’
Diane snipped away. ‘But he was part of you having Liza. You like Liza.’
‘I love Liza, she helps me lose the baby weight. He’s trying to make me put it back on.’ Gaynor swiped her hand through the air. ‘He wants more babies, I can tell.’
Diane winced. ‘He likes you… he likes children.’
‘Hmmm.’ Gaynor glowered out the window.
‘Hairdryer,’ Diane said handing over her scissors and comb.
‘Should we just give her some baby-lotion… we like her smiling.’ Hedges peered around Diane. ‘I liked it when you smiled.’
Gaynor pursed her lips. ‘You have hair that’s been electrocuted.’
Diane smiled as she dried off Gaynor’s hair. ‘I think we’ve managed to overcome the baby-bubble.’
Gaynor got off her chair, checked her make-up—she wasn’t wearing make-up. How wasn’t she wearing make-up then grabbed her clippers from the stand. ‘I’ll sort out his baby-bubble when I get home.’
Hedges hid behind the chair. ‘I have… er… flowers to deliver.’
‘And crap poems to recite,’ Gaynor snapped then she strode over, grabbed Hedges and kissed her on the cheek. ‘I like your crap poems though.’
Hedges smiled. ‘Thank you.’ She thumbed to the door and scurried out as she spotted Stan heading to the salon.
‘Hello, luv,’ he said as he popped his head in. ‘You forgot your phone. Liza is napping with Agnes… she fancied a spot of jiving.’
Gaynor buzzed her clippers.
Stan looked up at her hair then cleared his throat. ‘You don’t like jiving.’
‘You got me pregnant.’ She grabbed him by the scruff and shoved him at the chair. ‘And you haven’t shaved properly. You look like George.’
Stan hunched. ‘You liked my stubble.’
Gaynor held the clippers next to his ear. ‘I liked my waistline too.’
Diane hugged the dummy.
‘Your waist looks even nicer than it did before we had Liza.’ He narrowed his eyes in the mirror at her. ‘I think you look more beautiful.’
Gaynor lowered her clippers. ‘You do?’
‘Yeah.’ He shrugged. ‘You are as wonderful as you were in youth, but now your eyes are full of wisdom, and your heart never tires; your skill with a clippers can’t compare with your dancing; and even better you gave us our own little Liza.’
Gaynor hugged him and kissed him on the head. ‘I love your crap poetry too.’
‘Good, ‘cause Liza will want siblings.’ He folded his arms. ‘I don’t care if you make me sleep in the garage. She needs to have someone to practice her hair skills on.’
Gaynor glanced at the dummy then at Stan then pursed her lips. ‘That’s unfair. You know how much I want her to learn how to do hair.’
He nodded. ‘And I’m gonna make her put up shelves too.’
Gaynor twirled her razor around then set about shaving Stan’s stubble into a proper shape. She wasn’t going to tell Diane or Hedges that she still had a spare dummy in her pocket or that she was quite chuffed that Stan liked her waist. No. Because that’s what grown-up Gaynor did until she could go dance and baby-talk with her Liza. But, it was a part of Bumblethorpe as much of a landmark as any of the buildings, that beside the community centre and Squishy, beside Hedges pruning business or Andy on his roofs, was the sight of the moodiest hairdresser in town. Yes, baby-bubble or not, she’d make sure the people of Bumblethorpe were shaven properly and cut into some sort of tidiness. And, she could see from the waves of her friends that they felt much better seeing the landmark sight of Gaynor and her Clippers.