Eight-Stone Press


Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! #12

Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! COVER

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Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore!
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Table of contents
CITY OF FIRSTS - Timmy Reed
PLANETING - Susan Beverly
BASEBALL AND HUMBLE PIE - Tracey Hedrick Graham
MEMORY OF BALTIMORE IN SUMMER - Keith A. Berry
AFTER THE BALLGAME - Caryn Coyle
MAKING THE MOST OF A NICE PAIR - Ben Shaberman
BEHAVIORAL INVENTORY AND MORPHOLOGY OF THE CALVERT STREET TRANSVESTITUTE, HOMO PARADOXES CALVERTII - Matthew C. Terzi
RAPTURE OF THE FISH MAN - E. Doyle-Gillespie
I AM PATIENT ZERO - Jena Shlock
DEALT A FLUSH - Rahne Alexander
WATERS OF LIFE - Joe Higler
ON HANOVER STREET WITH A FORMER WORKING GIRL - E. Doyle-Gillespie
FOUR SHOTS AT WORK - J.G. Heck
NICEST LITTLE CRACKHOUSE IN BALTIMORE - Jeannie Hegarty
THE POINT OF REVELATION - Sharon Goldner
PATRICK ON THE DOOR #2 - Davis Morton
URBAN TERRARIUM - Siobhán Fitzpatrick
CHESAPEAKE BAY MOURNING - S.J. Ferrandi
INSIDE OUTSIDE, PART II: A GUIDE TO PARKS AND WILD SPACES IN AND AROUND BALTIMORE COUNTY - Davida Gypsy Breier
SQUIRREL STORY - Rob Brulinski
BALTIMOANERS - Benn Ray
BLACK GHETTO KALI - E. Doyle-Gillespie
SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET - Dan Reed and Elizabeth Faith Reed
BROKE - Alison Seay
’86 CELEBRITY - Sarah Jane Miller
HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW - Lisa Singer
CARPE DIEM - William P. Tandy
PROTECTION BEER - Martha Gatewood
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORRROW
by Lisa Singer

I’m a veteran hospice volunteer. Yeah, yeah – I know. It’s a wonderful thing to do. But before you start thinking what a kind, sensitive person I must be, stop. Because here’s the thing: Volunteering lets me indulge my fascination with death even as I fool people into thinking I’m much nicer than I am. And it provides far more entertainment value than one might imagine, especially given the subject matter.

A few years ago, my hospice supervisor called to ask if I would accept a patient who had end-stage cancer and a rash in her genital area. I wondered what the latter could possibly have to do with the former, but I gave her my standard response: “Sure. I’m in.”

“Well, before you commit, you need to know something,” she said. “Whenever the patient pees, you’ll have to wash and blow-dry her genital area.”

“Excuse me?” I asked. “Did you just ask me to blow-dry a stranger’s pubes?”

“Yep. You’ll need to blow-dry her genital area.”

“Jesus, Janet. I’m a hospice volunteer, not a hairstylist.” And with that, we began howling with the kind of laughter that makes you feel like you’re going to puke.

When I calmed down enough to think, I reluctantly concluded that the patient’s feelings about this salon appointment had to trump mine. It was sad enough she was dying young, but dying young and having a stranger primping her pubic hair? That was just plain overkill.

I accepted the assignment and began doing research. Did the patient prefer rinse-out or leave-in conditioner? Did she like mousse and volumizers, or did she eschew styling products? Was she going for a straight, wavy or curly look? I wasted no time debating the merits of ionic brushes versus boar bristle brushes, because using mine was not an option. Even volunteers have to draw the line sometimes.

I allayed my pre-visit anxiety by formulating a simple patient care plan: No liquids. I didn’t care if the woman had feasted on potato chips and feta cheese for three days before I arrived. If she wanted a drink to quench her thirst, she would have to get it by herself. And for that she would need to find her walker, which I planned to hide in plain sight.

When I arrived at her apartment, she was finishing one of those “Big Gulp” milkshakes. Of course she was. I chatted with her anxious husband long enough to convince him I wasn’t the Angel of Death, then watched in dread as he left the apartment to do some errands.

I paced anxiously during every second of his absence. Lucky for me, he returned in 53 minutes, laden with grocery bags and dry cleaning. “Wow,” I marveled, “looks like you got a lot done in a short time.”

“Well,” he replied, “I really hate to leave her.”

Bingo: an opportunity to be selfish and come out smelling like a rose.

I told him I understood his reluctance. I told him how much I admired his devotion. Then I offered to do the errands while he stayed at home with his beloved next time. He protested; I insisted.

“Really, it would be my pleasure,” I said. “Whatever makes you comfortable makes me comfortable.”

And just like that, my career as a hairstylist was history.


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