Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Catwoman and the Earlobe of Justice

When I was growing up, there were barber shops for men and hair salons, or beauty parlors, for women and children. My father did quite a bit of travelling, so when it was time for a haircut, my mom took me to see Terri at Audrey & Adrienne's Coiffures. Being gay, it was a treat for me to listen in on the gossip, see the assembly line of wash & sets, and look though the hardcover hairstyle collections that always seemed about a decade out of date. But one of the best things about going to the salon was the shampoo. You always knew a professional shampoo in two ways: smaller size/larger price and the smell. Suave and Pert smelled like piss compared to Redken. The other thing about the professional shampoo lines was that you could only get them in a salon.
Fast forward 15 years or so to find me working for one of the companies I feel brought about a turning point in the availability of the better shampoo brands. With locations in most of the Atlanta malls, this store carried most major lines, all the popular ones at any rate. There were, of course, the additional grooming necessities for hair and nails, even a small amount of expensive makeup nobody had ever heard of. But since you still had to be a working salon to sell these products, there was nestled away in the back of the store a styling chair or two and shampoo bowl. I enjoyed my time there, I learned many things, made many friends. And we partied. Lots of partying.
I worked in several of the Atlanta locations, but when I was at Cumberland Mall I had my closest interaction with a celebrity, an idol to many kids of the day. All of us pretty much did every job, so whoever was not ringing up one customer could help the one coming in. I was hanging about one day, looking disinterestedly available, when I noticed some customers eyeballing a couple who had just come in. Then I saw that a light crowd had not quite gathered, but lingered outside our store. It was what I imagined working in a shop in Beverly Hills to be like. I studied the couple in their slight disguises. He wore a baseball cap and sunglasses, she had on a long dark wig and also wore sunglasses. I didn't recognize either of them. I glanced around and ascertained that it was my turn, I was up to bat.
I used one of our pre-approved variations of "what do you want" to find out he was interested in getting his ear pierced. Now, this was a new process for me, but it was also quite easy. First things first, I coolly handed him the release form and began getting prepped for the procedure. I wore no gloves, for this was in that window of time when we could pierce in the open without as many safety issues. Ready, I took the form from him, giving it a glance as I set it down. I was about to pierce the ear of Atlanta Brave's baseball player, David Justice. He was at the height of his popularity at that moment, and in that moment I knew who his companion was. This was during his tumultuous relationship with rising star, Halle Berry. A brush with fame double-header.
Sadly, there's really just nothing left to share besides the piercing. It went smoothly after a brief discussion in regards to which ear to pierce. Nobody went so far as to mention the dreaded 'gay ear' fear, but he did seem to think Halle's input on the matter was important. I don't remember anything remarkable about his lobe, like a freckle shaped like a smurf or a strange odor when pierced. The couple was very nice in a casual, reserved sort of way, but didn't sign any autographs that I noticed. So, going against the rules and regulations of J.K. Templeton, Inc, I failed to include his release form in the piercing book, keeping it as a souvenir. I've always wondered if this unique autograph was worth any money. That is if the day it would have been hasn't already passed. He did almost kill Halle Berry, though.
I saw him once a few years later at the Atlanta nightclub, Velvet. He remembered me when I reminded him. You never forget your first. To this day I've always wondered if once in a long while he looks at the hole in that meaty lobe and thinks of me. Aaaah, he probably just thinks, "crazy bitch made me pierce my ear."

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