Critic John Leonard said, “It takes a long time to grow an old friend,” but Bob tried to tell me he made friends quickly because every day he ran into someone who called him “Buddy.” My friend-making efforts weren't so productive. Although a few people had called me “Sugar,” and lots of people had “blessed my heart,” I was pretty certain the the check out woman at Home Depot had no idea she was my best friend.
After being buried in The Renovation for several months, I landed a temp job at a college bookstore. It was there I met Beth and Valorie. Beth was so enthusiastic in greeting the students who came in looking for textbooks that I called her “Walmart.” She, in turn, having heard my tale about delivering telephone books, promptly dubbed me “Yellowbook.” Fitted with nicknames, we started a friendship.
Valorie was as soft-spoken Southern as peaches. She tried to teach me how to stretch my i’s and turn one- syllable words into two: “My-y, it’s a ni-ice ni-ight for a kni-ife fi-ight.”
We all shared photos of family, anecdotes of personal misadventures, and a great many laughs. One day, during a lull in business, our conversation got around to the never-ending problem for unnatural blondes—roots. I was complaining that I didn't have money to get them done but wasn't ready to see what lay beneath my Redkin.
“Oh, I can do them,” Beth offered, full of her usual enthusiasm. Valorie, wanted hers done too, so we all agreed to meet at Beth’’s house. We each arrived around 7 p.m. toting towels and our respective boxes of color.
Beth had platters of smoked salmon and capers, cheese and crackers. We scooped dip into little bowl-shaped chips, told stories, and got to know each other. Time passed quickly. Around 10:00 p.m., we deliberated whether or not to go ahead with the coloring. Assured by Beth that it wasn’t too late, I wrapped the plastic cape around my shoulders and waited for her to ready the mix.
Unsure which of the two shades we had was the closest to my own, Beth suggested we try each and see which looked better. She separated two sections of hair. “I haven’t ever done this before,” she confessed. “But I know how.”
I was suddenly very alert. “What?”
“Don’t worry. Really, I know how to do it but if you’d feel more comfortable, Valorie can do it. She’s done mine before,” Beth added reassuringly.
There she was—my new friend, holding in her hand the power to determine whether I would walk out with properly highlighted blonde tresses or ones that looked like an orange and vanilla Dairy Queen swirl. Granted, this wasn’t a life-threatening situation, but it was still up close and personal; women can get pretty touchy about the color of their hair.
Our new friendship was having its first little test. I liked Beth, and didn’t want to offend her, but, still . . . .
Before I could say anything, Valorie slid into position behind me, dabbed some color on the applicator brush, and in her soft Southern drawl said, “I don’t mi-ind.”
I didn’t mi-ind either. It felt good to be growing friends again.
Thank you for stopping by. May you blessed with an awareness of the One who is closer than a brother, and who is aware of the widow(er), the orphan, and the lonely.
God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners in singing--Psalm 68:6