A Change of Preference This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   I step inside the little salon downtown and amovercome with the smell of hair products. The receptionist stopspainting her nails.

"Can I help you?" she asks with astrong Southern drawl. I give her my name. "Have a seat," shetells me. "Lou Anne will be with you in just a sec,okay?"

I sit next to a heavy woman waiting for her hair set.She's reading a magazine with Garth Brooks on the cover. I look aroundand see three people getting their hair cut. They are sitting next toeach other in front of a large mirror that stretches across the wall.The three women stylists are chomping gum and gabbing to their friendsabout "what Rusty did yesterday."

I pick up a bridalmagazine and skim through. The women in white look so happy. I wish mylife was as happy. May-be getting married will make me truly happy. If Imarry Caleb, I'll be on my own, or at least away from my parents. Theydrive me crazy. All I want to do is get out of the house and live by myown rules.

"Hey, sweetie. I'm almost done with this here,Truvy," Lou Anne says over the soft country music.

"Oh,that's okay. You don't have to hurry," I call to her. Lou Annetakes a large can of hairspray and sprays it all over Truvy's big, stiffhairdo.

"Thank you, baby. I doubt I'll be able to make itlook like this tomorrow," Truvy says as she stands. "She's allyours," she tells me.

"Come on over here, sugar. So,where have you been? I haven't seen your darling face in forever."She starts to comb the tangles out of my hair. "Good Lord, girl.You got some split ends! And when did your hair go flat? Have you notbeen using that volumizer I gave you?" She seems disappointed thatI don't prefer big, frizzy hairstyles like hers.

She snips mydry, dead ends and her loud humming actually relaxes me.

A tall,slim man in form-fitting, ripped jeans and a flannel shirt walks in witha six-pack. "Just put 'em in the back, honey." The womancutting a nervous boy's hair calls to him. She has short, jet-black hairthat is tightly curled. I hear her tell Lou Anne, "That man is socrazy. Let me tell you ... he came over last night and surprised me witha diamond ring."

Lou Anne gasps at her friend's news."I hope to God you said yes, Alisha. He's a much better catch thanyour last two husbands."

"I know it! He's so muchsweeter. He actually turned off the engine to propose. Tommy just threwthe ring at me as he passed someone on the highway and gave them thefinger." Alisha rolls her eyes at the memory of her ex-husband."I was so stupid to say yes to him. We were always troubled aboutmoney." This grabs my attention. "I thought I was so lucky tobe out on my own, but after four months of working two jobs and cominghome to an empty, messy trailer, I was calling my mama and begging tocome back home."

Lou Anne shakes her head and startsspraying my damp hair. "Thank the Lord for mamas. When my daddyfound out I was pregnant with Vic's baby, he threw me out of the house.But, my mama talked him out of it and let me stay with her. She evenlied and told him I was going to night school when I was really out withVic."

The receptionist chimes in. "Honey, you shouldhave gone to night school. I had to quit school when me and Bubba gotmarried. We didn't have enough money for school; I had to work the nightshift and Bubba was working three shifts at the Food Lion. I wish Icould have gone to night school."

"Well, Vic told meschool was a waste of time," Lou Anne said.

"Child, youbelieved him?" Alisha almost chops off her customer'sear.

"Of course! I was in love. I believed anything thatcame out of Vic's tobacco-lovin' mouth." The three of them laugh.She turns me around to face the mirror. "All done, lamb. Now, takemy advice ... never let a man tell you what to do. And, for God's sake,wait until you're older and smarter before you getmarried."

The two girls nod their heads. Marriage can waitand they wish they had. "Thank you, LouAnne."

"I'll see ya in six weeks," she winks andcalls her next customer.

As I pass by the sitting area, I see twoteenage girls flipping through Brides. "Oh, I can't wait 'till Iget married," one says to the other.

"Get your hairdone by Lou Ann," I tell them. "She'll make you change yourmind."




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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