Wednesday, February 07, 2007

For your amusement

Norma took my blond away. I sat in her chair and said, "Do whatever you want." So she darkened my hair a few shades and gave me caramel highlights. Looks so better with your skin, she said, and maybe I agree, or, why not, I think, maybe I'll blend in better. It's something different. Norma runs the best hair salon in town, the one that caters to the norteamericanas. Old issues of In Style and Vanity Fair lie in the magazine rack next to displays of OPI nail polish (pricey even in America.) The young girls that work there are slim and pretty, girls I imagine being candidates for Loreto Carnaval Queen when they were in high school. Norma is pretty too and extremely talkative and lively. I sit in her chair captive to the chatter and continual laughter. They tell stories in rapid-fire Spanish that I can never keep up with. I only catch words and phrases that I work like clues to piece together a scenario. Novio, ha-ha-ha (Boyfriend is clueless.) Compromiso, frown (Boyfriends are trouble.) I imagine I get the meat of the tale and that it's universal girl-talk, but for all I know they could be talking about the global economy.

Their gaiety was so mesmerizing that I was somewhat non-attentive to the inconvenience of having my hair shampooed with a bucket and a bowl. Apparently, the water tank was empty or malfunctioning. A carafe of water heated on the coffee maker was added to the gallon bucket and my hair was washed and rinsed scoopful by scoopful. I think I was too amused to get bent out of shape or maybe it was the extreme delicacy and carefulness of the sweet girl assigned to this impossible task that kept me humble and patient. I'd look up now and then to see Norma's big grin and hear laughter, then I'd close my eyes again giving in to the delicate fingers rubbing my scalp and think, what's really so bad about this? Four hours later I emerged to the outside, lost of any sense of what was next in my day.

I walked to Dali's to pick up some food items. I bought ricotta cheese in industrial size, (most things there come in restaurant size) lasagna noodles, and some Italian sausages. A real score that boosted my mood further and got me enthusiastic thinking about inviting people for dinner. I picked up Allie and her friend, Gloria, from school and we ate fish tacos at Pangalangas till Gloria's mother came to take them to play. I rushed back to Loreto Bay to fetch Dee's collie, Laddie. I'd promised to take him on a walk while she was whale watching with friends. I walked the Marmaduke-sized Laddie along with our pedigree spaniel lapdog on the Paseo looking like the most idiotic gringo caricature possible to the Mexican obras as the dogs continually entangled me. What they think of me I'm afraid to guess. Some days I stroll by toting a tennis racquet, some days I'm power-walking. In the mornings I'm loading up my daughter and her things to school. Some days I'm unloading purchases or hauling water or trash. Some days I'm in skirt and heels. "Hey, beautiful lady" one says to me one morning reminding me that for some I'm an object of interest--foreign interest, and they're watching me like someone watches a serial show. What thing will I do next? Thing is, I feel like everything I do amuses them.

There's no blending in, blond hair or not. I'll just be happy for the construction in my cluster to finish up and move out. This is no resort. Not yet. Not by a long shot. It seems every day a big machine moves dirt and gravel around the my calle (street.) One day it's leveled, the next there's a trench, the next there's huge piles of gravel. Nothing makes any sense. Like a hair salon with no water. Like being able to make lasagna, but not being able to find dishwashing detergent anywhere in town. Tonight I did a stupid thing. I'd done it once before with the same sorry results, but something reckless in me decided to hope for a different outcome. I used laundry detergent in the dishwasher. I spent a half hour on my knees wiping up foam and water. I felt pretty foolish for sure, but there was no one to see me, thank goodness.

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