I was surprised when Stephanie Montgomery approached me in the school parking lot after I dropped my kids off on Thursday morning. When she asked me to join her and her friends for coffee, I nearly choked on my Tic Tac.
“A few of us are going to Starbucks. We’d love for you to join us.” Stephanie’s sing-song voice matched her perky appearance and her face seemed to have a permanent smile. I wasn’t sure if she was really that happy or if she’d had too much plastic surgery. My children had been attending the same private school as Stephanie’s kids for two years, but we’d never gotten to know each other. I secretly referred to Stephanie and her friends as the “Money Moms.” My family wasn’t the only ones eating Ramen Noodles so we could afford the school, but sometimes it felt like it. Being a mature Christian, though, I didn’t need acceptance from Stephanie’s group to feel secure . I didn’t even drink coffee. I had no reason to join them.
“I’d love to,” I gushed like an eager school girl. “I have a 10:30 hair appointment, but I’m free until then.”
“Great. Ginny, Lisa and Heather will be there, too.” She hopped into her sparkling Mercedes SUV and headed to Starbucks. I followed in my dirty Dodge Caravan.
To my surprise, the ladies didn’t seem that different from my friends at first. Then they began dropping the names of local VIPs and celebrities they knew and, frankly, I was in awe. Stephanie was describing the dinner she had just hosted for the mayor when she noticed Heather was missing. “Where’s Heather?”
“She’s sick.” Lisa answered.
Stephanie got a horrified expression on her face. “That’s terrible.”
Ginny seemed confused at her friend’s apparent over-reaction.“I think it’s just a cold.”
“But she had an appointment with Roland today.”
“Oh, no!” Lisa and Ginny said simultaneously.
“Roland’s the only one we let touch our hair,” Stephanie explained to me. “It’s very difficult to get an appointment.” Suddenly her face lit up. “Why don’t you take Heather’s appointment today?” she said as she looked at me and my hair.
“I already have an appointment with my hairdresser.”
“Cancel. This is a rare opportunity. I’m scheduled for a manicure at the same time as Heather’s appointment, so I’ll take you.”
I’m not sure why I agreed. Tasha had cut my hair for ten years and I was happy with her, but when they talked about Roland, I got stars in my eyes. I didn’t belong in this group, but I felt important with them.
Stephanie jumped up. “Time to go!”
I canceled my appointment with Tasha on the way to the salon. I tugged self-consciously at my shirt, a Target special, as I followed Stephanie inside and tried not to gawk at the opulence.
Stephanie walked over to a tall, thin man who had long, dark pony tail down his back. He wore a tight black shirt tucked into black and white striped pants. When he turned and saw Stephanie he smiled.
“Oh, Stephanie, darling.” He held his arms out and without touching Stephanie, he pecked both her checks. He spoke with a heavy French accent which I suspected was fake.
Stephanie got right to the point. “Heather is sick, so I brought my friend to take her appointment.”
Roland looked at me and frowned. He examined the ends of my hair. “I could do wonders with your hair.” He looked at Stephanie and continued, “But so sorry, I already filled her spot.”
“Can’t you squeeze her in?”
“No, no. Roland can not be rushed.”
I could tell Stephanie was embarrassed. I let her off the hook. “It’s okay,” I said.
“You’re so sweet not to be mad.”
I called Tasha as I hurried out to my car. “Tasha, it’s me again. Do you still have time to cut my hair today?”
“Actually, no. I’m already booked.”
“Oh.” I could tell something was bothering her. “Well, when are you available?”
“I’m full the rest of the month.”
“Really?” I paused. “Tasha, what’s wrong?”
“You canceled with a lame excuse, but I know the truth. My sister overheard you at Starbucks. Honestly, my feelings are hurt. I’ve got to go.” With that she ended the call.
I felt awful and ashamed. I consoled myself with a candy bar I found in the bottom of my purse. Then I headed home to get my phone book and start searching for a new hairdresser.
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