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David Creel: A kitchen beautician: Then and now


David Creel



"Close your eyes, bend over, and let me know if the water''s too hot." Before your imagination runs away with you, allow me to interpret those words. Well, it was last week with me standing behind my friends in the kitchen as we rinsed, lathered and shampooed their flaxen blonde colors down the drain. Yes, we were caught up in a scenario much like those of my childhood, watching my Aunt Avis or Aunt Trucine in an episode of kitchen beautician. 


Come on. Don''t pretend you have never been there with soap in your eyes, a plush bath towel at an arm''s distance and someone vigorously rinsing your roots. Home hair coloring has been around for ages. I remember my mama tossing a box of Miss Clairol into her shopping basket alongside other essentials such as toothpaste, milk and Cocoa Pebbles cereal when I was knee high to a grasshopper.  


After the groceries were put away, she would flip on our big console television, heat up some fish sticks, and there I would sit with "The Wonderful World of Disney" until 45 minutes of processing time had passed. Then, voila, Mama in a different shade of beautiful.  


Mama chose to do her own hair color back then, but when I was old enough to reach the counter she designated me as her kitchen beautician. "Never mind the instructions," Mama would say. "Just twist off the caps, pour bottle A into bottle B, shake and put it on my head." So, there I was several times a year with plastic gloves peeled carefully from behind the paper instructions, parting hair meticulously through junior high and high school as the kitchen beautician extraordinaire. 


Beauty school made it official, and passing the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology''s licensure examination legitimized it. But believe you me, I was a beautician well before my time. Mama loved it. After all, I was at her beck and call whenever she needed her roots done, or the back of her tease job had a hole in it. There I was, missing perfectly good episodes of some of the best TV dramas ever -- "Dynasty," "Knots Landing" and "Falcon Crest." (Oh, to have touched the locks of Joan Collins just once!)  


It was worth it, though, on Sundays when the other ladies complimented Mama on her beautiful hairstyles. I just smiled up at Mama, wondering why I never got a tip. 


My best friends Tracey, Misty, Renee, Dottie and Donna all benefited from some kitchen beauticianing before a high school football game or a few minutes before the big yellow school bus could be heard just up the road.  


More than a few neighbors such as Marilyn, Joy, Frances, Belle, Elaine and Paulette got teased, sprayed and "fixed" under some fluorescent lighting from a kitchen or two. I didn''t mind. It was better than the alternative, which was skinning fish or hunting rabbits with my older brothers. No, sir! I would rather be found in a foggy haze of Aqua Net hairspray, Miss Clairol hair color and hot rollers any day. 


This leads me back to last week right here in Columbus, with my friends who I will refer to as "Lucy" and "Ethel" in an effort to protect their privacy, because if anyone found out these classy ladies were bent over a kitchen sink ... well, who knows what anyone might think.  


On second thought, who cares? It was fun frolicking in the midst of empty hair color bottles, dampened towels and laughter. So, the next time you think of scheduling an appointment at your favorite salon, I am certainly not against that. But you could simply invite a friend over, pick a shade of fabulous, and make a memory ... but rinse thoroughly! 


David Creel of Columbus has owned two successful salons and written for newspapers and magazines, including VIP Jackson. He is a former style columnist for the Clarion-Ledger. E-mail him at [email protected]


Former Columbus resident David Creel owns Beautiful With David salon in Jackson and has 20 years experience in the beauty industry. Contact him at [email protected]


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