A Sparkling Vintage Life


I drew my hair over one shoulder and stroked it protectively. “Richard says there are more important qualities than beauty. He thinks women should look natural.”
“Natural, my foot,” Dot scoffed, banging the glass on the table. “That may be what he says, but deep inside, every man is a sheik in search of a glamorous sheba.  Oh, come on, Marjie. Just give it a try. You’ll love it—I know you will. Bobbed hair makes you feel so—free. Untethered. Ready to take on the world.” She made some sweeping Isadora Duncan-style moves around the tiny kitchen, then plopped down in a chair. “Tell you what. I’ll march you up to the salon myself on Monday and introduce you to my favorite hairdresser. She works wonders with even the most difficult hair.” She eyed my locks with pity.

“Have you listened to a word I’ve said?” I snapped. “I don’t want to have it cut.”

“Now don’t get in a lather. It’s up to you.” Dot shrugged. “But to be honest, doll, you do look miles behind the times. You could at least put on a spot of rouge and a little lipstick. Try my favorite shade, High Society Scarlet. The world won’t end if you shorten your skirts, or roll your stockings. You’re young, live a little. Give Richard something to look at besides his medical charts.” She slid me a sidelong smirk. “Or maybe it’s not Richard’s eye you’re worried about catching.”

I avoided her gaze. “Nonsense. I’m not worried about catching anyone’s eye.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” she purred. “You seemed pretty riled up a minute ago that Peter Bachmann invited you to collect canned goods instead of . . . whatever it was you were hoping for.”

“You’re crazy,” I mumbled, embarrassed at how defensive I sounded. “I’m extremely loyal to Richard.”

“I never said you weren’t,” she soothed. “But didn’t you say Peter reminds you of your old beau? ”

“Yes. The resemblance to Jack is remarkable.”

Dot’s dark eyes sparkled. “Maybe he really is Jack. Maybe the government faked his death and has him working incognito as a spy at Marshall Field and Company. I read something like that in a novel once.”

“Now you’re just being silly,” I said with forced laughter—as if that weren’t exactly what I’d been thinking all along.

“Just be careful,” she warned. “As I told the girls, I hear he has quite the reputation. I’ve even spotted him around Johnny’s a time or two, and not for the spaghetti, if you know what I mean. And if you’re interested in him—not saying you are, but if you were—Peter Bachmann definitely goes for the glamorous type.” She glanced at the clock.

“Well, I should finish getting ready for the club. Have you finished in the bath?”

After she’d gone, I settled in my chair, spread my hair out across my back to dry, and picked up the mystery novel. I tried to concentrate as the hardboiled detective grilled the not-so-grieving widow, but in my mind’s eye the detective looked like Peter Bachmann and the widow looked like . . . well, it was too hot to read, anyway. I threw the book on the table, walked over to the cracked mirror, and wondered how strenuously Richard would object if my lips bore just the slightest hint of High Society Scarlet. And tried to ignore the fact that I really cared less and less what Richard thought.

(excerpt a  hopefully-someday-will-be-published-novel by Jennifer Lamont Leo)