Scared Straight, The Real Story


I have been washing the gray right out of my hair since I was a kid.
So, I am a self-declared boxed beauty expert.
That is why I was wearing a pair of rubber gloves when the police officer came to my sister Louisa's front door that afternoon and that is why Louisa looked the way she did.
It's hard to look gorgeous with your hair all in a big pile on top of your head, saturated with Golden Blonde Brioche chemicals.
You do not look anything like the picture on the outside of the package until your hair is rinsed, blow dried, make up is on and the lights are dimmed.
That is the information they fail to include in those kits.
They do not post warnings the way drugs do, like it could cause a stroke, or a bloody nose or in rare cases, death.
In the interim your hair looks like it does not have a chance of recovering from what your sister has just done to it.
"Yes?" says Louisa, peeking out the crack of her full-length glass door, not completely understanding her appearance, as I am hastily dumping our Bloody Mary's down her kitchen drain.
That was just instinct.
We were not breaking the law.
Unless it is against the law to put color into someone's hair without a beautician's license.

Well, I wasn't planning on cutting or styling it or anything.
Louisa thought she had seen a couple gray hairs.
And I'd said, "It's about gol darn time!"
So as long as Pierre was on a business trip.
And as long as Sven was cutting firewood.
And as long as I had our grandson for the weekend and the Badgers were playing football because it was a Saturday, it seemed like the perfect time.
The cousins could all watch a movie together while Louisa and I cheered on our team, and I fixed Louisa up.
It was multi-tasking at its finest.
The little cuties were in Louisa and Pierre's bed, all four of them, Bridgette Luanne, the oldest at seven on the end, Rupert at six next to her, Christophe at five the other middle guy and my grandson Dion at four on the other end. They were cuddled in that king sized paradise, watching Cinderella, for the umpteenth time.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, if we got hauled off to jail before Louisa rinsed that shit out of her hair, it would not be good. We were going for the full forty-five minutes, and the timer was at forty-three.
Surely the officer would take into consideration that if you are going to have to wear an orange jump suit, your hair must look decent, and you might need a pair of heels in order to pull it off.
"Is there a problem?" she says all grown up like.
Not that surprising.
She was thirty something.
And then I heard, "Ma'am, we received a 911 call from this address. Is there an emergency here?"
This he managed to say, without blinking.
"Not yet," I said. "But she does have to rinse that out real soon."
"Oh, my God!," Louisa says. "Follow me."
My great line went completely unnoticed as she marched down the hall toward her bedroom with the man in blue and me in tow.
They were so cute.
All of them there together watching that movie, with the telephone sitting right there on the bed with them.
After the kids of the hood had the Bejesus scared out of them and then a lecture about how police are your friends, the officer bid us all fair well.
"You better get in the shower!" I said to Louisa.
I fixed us new Bloody Mary's.
The Badgers won.
Louisa thought her hair was too dark.
I thought it looked fine.
Scared Straight.
That was the name of the movie they made. It was based on that afternoon.
Have you seen it?
A few weeks later I was out doing my errands on a Saturday. I had groceries in the trunk of my car and I was at the four way stop sign with my blinker clicking to turn left when I spotted Louisa and Pierre's silver minivan parked right in front of the Tavern on Main Street.
I am not one to procrastinate or to put off for tomorrow what I could do today, unless I could put off for tomorrow what I could do today.
It was clear to me that they were in there watching the Badger Game since that was what was playing on my radio.
But I can't parallel park.
I went straight, anyway.
I could not believe what I was seeing.
Right there. Right on Main Street. There was a triple opening, just the perfect size for Millie and her little KIA.
I slid on in and yes, my car was still three feet away from the curb, but it did not matter. It was inside the white lines.
Clearly, all of the signs were telling me that I was supposed to stop in and say hello.
I peeked in the big window.
There they were.
I strolled on in.
"Hey Millie!" Pierre says. "What do you want to drink?"
"Where are your kids?" I said slipping onto the stool next to Louisa.
"We dropped Bridgette Luanne off at a birthday party," she says.
Pierre pointed toward the other side of the door that I'd entered.
There were the boys, Rupert with his straight blonde hair and big brown eyes and Christophe with his sandy curls and gray-green eyes, both standing on a chair next to the peanut barrel, punching numbers onto the pay phone pad.
"Who are they calling?" I gasped.
"They don't have any money."
The bartender shrugged. "It's fine," he said.
Apparently, they had already gone through their bag of quarters on the pinball machine. It was only natural they would eventually end up at the pay phone.
Everybody does.
Sunlight was streaming in the window facing Main Street.
A Badger intercepted the ball and ran fifty-four yards for a touchdown.
The place went wild.
I think that is why his entrance went unnoticed.
That and the peanut shelled floor softens the sound of footsteps.
The red and white guys lined up for the extra point kick.
The quarter back held the ball.
The kicker gave it a smack with his right foot.
The ref's arms went straight up in the air.
"Whoooooo hoooooooo! Yeehah! Give me a five!"
The crowd went crazy.
And then an uneasy hush fell over the otherwise joyful room.
"Is there a problem officer?" says Mike getting up off his stool behind the bar.
"We received a 911 call from this address. Is there an emergency here?"
I looked at Louisa's hair and thought, "It has lightened up a bit."
Sitting on Louisa's lap was Rupert. And sitting on Pierre's lap was Christophe.
The mouthpiece of the phone was still dangling from the wire cord and swinging back and forth over the top of the peanut barrel.
They hadn't even taken the time to wipe off their fingerprints.
"But, officer, they didn't have any money," said Louisa.
"911 is free, Ma'am," says the guy from 'One Adam Twelve.'
I left at halftime.
Rupert and Christophe just got off probation last week.
I pray to God those boys can keep their fingers clean.

Today Louisa has her hair professionally colored.
Which leaves me with just one question.
Why would someone with a boxed beauty expert for a sister, go to a salon?
I have one more question.
I have a friend. I won't name any names but, Claudette was warned by the same police department that if she made one more accidental 911 call with her chin they were going to take her in.

"I keep hitting it with my chin," was her plea for innocence.
Who puts 911 in their speed dial?

It is only three numbers.


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