Like most people when I am doing something routine my mind wanders to similar situations in my past. I was brushing my grand daughter’s hair in preparation for the anguish of winding the thin elastic band tightly around to make a pony tail. My mind rolled back to a day in my childhood when I made my first visit to a hairdresser without my mother. Her name was Mrs. Durante, not a local name, and she operated a salon in her home. I think she was a single divorced mother of three . In those days there were very few divorced people in our town or anywhere else, for that matter. Mrs. Durante, to her credit, was making her living through her little business. I believe she had moved to our town from some place on the mainland. It must have been quite an adjustment for her particularly when it came to understanding our rapid speech let alone the accent and colourful dialect.
I remember this haircut because of the unexpected reaction from her when I explained what I wanted done. I was probably around ten years old. After she had washed my hair I settled into the “styling” chair and she fastened the plastic cape around my neck .
I must first mention that my mother had a wonderful thesaurus of Newfoundland words for the most ordinary things. These words are not found in Miriam Webster and very unlikely in the Oxford dictionary. One which I checked out recently was “clitty”. I could find it only in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Whenever we had tangles in our hair she would tut tut over the clits. No one batted an eyelash . It was a perfectly acceptable colloquialism.
Also the nape of our necks was referred to as the pole. How often when we were growing up did mom comment as we were playing , ” Bless her little pole!” or sometimes ” Bless her gob!” We used these words without thinking . The tangles were clits and the nape of our neck was a pole. And gob was the mouth . Simple as that.
Therefore when I was properly installed in the “styling” chair and Mrs Durante asked me what it was I wanted done I answered in the dialect of my childhood and with the seriousness of an eighty year old, ” I want my crop cut , please.”
I couldn’t understand at the time how I was responsible for the guffaws of laughter that her right hand pressed firmly to her “gob” failed to suppress .