Thursday, September 6, 2007

Recurring Themes

There are two themes that have repeated themselves during the course of my lifetime, that until lately, I haven’t much appreciated. I am often too busy admiring the qualities of others, or spend time in envy of circumstance I wish were mine. So as you can imagine, it is pleasant, when on occasion, others find appreciation in the qualities I possess.
I have been going to my girlfriend's hair stylist for the past year. Over the course of our friendship, this woman’s virtues have been touted repeatedly. I eventually became one of her clients. My one instruction to her was that my hair had to look good when I pulled off my helmet. I was sure she wouldn’t be able to accommodate that request. I was wrong.
Not long after I had been going to Rose, I received compliments on more than one occasion, while on group rides. No one is sure what is different. “Did you cut your hair?” Or, “What is different with your hair?” Or simply, “your hair looks great!”
I went to Rose on Tuesday for my three-month haircut. Why do I go only every three months and not more often? I am following a routine for growing out hair that encourages trims at three-month intervals to prevent splits from destroying the whole hair shaft. The only resolution for split hair is to cut it all off. That would be counter to my plan. Rose is very accommodating and tolerates the three-month interval plan.
While Rose is cutting my hair, she stops suddenly. With both hands, she envelopes my head, smoothes it all down slowly and exclaims what a joy it is to work with such nice soft hair! She then explains that most of her clients have treated hair, and she is accustomed to the straw feeling that results.
I have a flashback from high school. Gym is over and we are all in the girl’s locker room changing. As I’m leaning over to untie my shoes, a classmate runs her hands over my hair and exclaims how soft it is. She wants to know what I do to make it so soft. I of course am too busy wondering if she is gay to appreciate the compliment.
Is my hair perfect? Hardly! It’s unruly and has a mind of its own. However, it is soft, and it’s nice to know I have something of envy to others.

Then there is my smile. Smiles are something people just do, but for some reason, people remark about mine. The first time I recall having someone comment on it was at age six. My bad eyesight became evident at that age. Mother began taking me to an eye doctor for treatment. He was a gentle gray haired man who loved to refer to me as “smiley”. Over the years, this has repeated itself in many variations. Still today, I often hear from others about my great smile. Lately, however, I have been hearing comments about its absence from my face. “I really miss that terrific smile you used to have.” one employee said upon arriving one morning.

Yesterday, after I finished the cardio portion of my routine, I stepped over to see if a bench is available in the weight room. As I approach, I step around a few folk and look through to check the benches. I wasn’t paying attention to the two directly in front of me. I realize one of them is trying to get my attention. I pop the headphone off my ear. “Excuse me?” I say. “Things can’t be all that bad? Smile! You have such a pretty smile!” says a personal trainer who is working with a client. He then looks at the client and says “Doesn’t she have a great smile?” I smile for the client; he nods and continues his repetitions. “Oh, sorry.” I say, “I guess I’m just into my tunes.” The trainer calls me on this. “Well, they're your tunes! They should make you smile.” He looks at his charge and says, “I’m still counting.” The young man grimaces and continues his reps. I decide to ‘fess up. “OK, well, I’ve had a bad summer” He doesn’t let up. “What could be so bad that you can’t smile anymore?” I tell him that on June 10, I worked with 130 people. On June 11, I worked with 20. He tells me that he has worked four jobs this summer. He lost his job while in a foreign country and he couldn’t speak the language. “OK, you win.” I tell him. I look at his client and say, “he’s still counting.” We all have a good laugh. I see an empty bench. I’m anxious to extricate myself from this conversation. “I’m going to grab that empty bench!” I say with my most pleasant smile. He nods approval and waves me off.

I have a long weekend planned with lots of people around. I think I will practice smiling. I want to reclaim my smile along with my inner and outer beauty. I’ll bring the Mojito mix and bottle of rum. That’s always good for a smile or two.

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