Whenever I go to Rafe’s hair salon, I feel a tinge of nostalgia. His salon now is just off Madison in the 60’s. I lived just off Fifth in the East 60’s. When I lived there I never thought of it as my ‘hood. It was the world’s hood, and I merely occupied 450 square feet of it. Yes, for anybody who reads me regularly, I am more into square feet than most people. Many of us don’t say how many rooms we have but how many square feet.
I was walking down Madison about five this afternoon, after having my hair colored. It was in the 90’s, and the avenue was empty. Took me right back to the late 1970’s when I was a fresh faced girl, already almost divorced, with a penchant for getting herself into trouble. But I had a baby face and a slightly ditsy manner; like a younger, brunette Goldie Hawn. I could hide behind my face; people always mistook me for innocent.
Madison Avenue was filled with old ladies stores then that closed for the month of August. There was a woman’s hat shop that made me laugh as the hats were so pricey and even more ugly. Another store made pillows; the kind of living room pillows with cute messages on them. “The queen sits here.” I laughed even more at that store. There was a store that sold everything you would need to ride a horse, except for the horses. I’m sure that the owner could have helped you with that one. On my corner was an art gallery that was managed by two older twin sisters who dressed and wore their hair identically. Their bouncer/everything else employee was a large imposing man with a shaved head years before it was fashionable.
Madison Avenue was quiet then; never busy at night, but in August it was as deserted as a European city was then. Though I had only moved off Fifth to placate my father, I was charmed by the old fashionedness. It was so not me, yet I had quickly become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. Everybody loves young girls, though I didn’t quite consciously understand that. I did understand that it was the end of an era; my generation was beginning to leave its mark.
We were going to be the trendsetters and the leaders. all of our lives we had been told how special we were. We were baby boomers who had never known a depression. The people I knew experienced hard times from a distance. No, our hard times were different; or maybe talked about more. I had grown up with at least three kids who had killed themselves. Maybe that had always been covered up before.
I was actually thinking all this while looking in store windows. Don’t know if I could have lived there if Lalique had been there then, though it’s not my favorite glass at all. When I’m on a glass quest, I will find beauty in almost all glass
Though I was engrossed in memories, I am a New Yorker so I’m always looking at the people. Norm saw me first; he look bewildered as if he knew me, but wasn’t sure from where. I change my appearance bimonthly; my hair has a life of its own. There was a reason somebody had once called me electric haired chick. My face has never changed; but I constantly change the amount and type of make up I wear.
Omigod, that’s Norm. Sheet, he must have only been in his 40’s then; always thought he was old. Right he had white hair, and daddy who must have been much older didn’t. My father had a moustache; always thought that Hal Linden would be perfect to play him in The Savage Family Chronicles, or Pia tells almost all, but only about herself, not really.
“Hey Norm, it’s Pia Savage.”
“Oh it is you; you haven’t aged a day.”
If I had to run into my former landlord, it was good that we met when I came out of the hair salon. His face was doughy. for the first time I realized that he had once been magnetic looking. Though it was way too hot, he was wearing a summer suit of raw silk without a tie, and obviously soft black Italian loafers. I was wearing an orange Talbot’s tee, a blue denim pencil skirt, and blue with orange Merrel’s sports sandals. What can I say? I live on the Upper West Side, and Talbot’s does make the best tees. We talked for awhile, but all I could think about was how my life has been defined through my hair and my clothes. When I had moved into Norm’s building, I wore vintage 30’s and 40’s dresses, and almost the complete Diane Von Furstenberg line for work; at night it was vintage or all black with metal jewelery for the complete punk look.
Now almost half my wardrobe is from Talbot’s; the other half is way cooler, but I always find myself putting on the Talbot’s clothes. I like the quality; it does feel right. But it’s Talbot’s.