This afternoon I managed to dispense advice, provide reassurance, share experiences and bestow warming hugs - all in the space of an hour at the hair salon.
I’m not suggesting, mind you, that I was an Angel of Mercy - that would be massively over-egging it. However it did go to demonstrate that, when one reaches a Great Age, one does have more to give in certain circumstances.
First to receive my attentions was the sweet lass who was given the task of washing my locks. She was clearly in some difficulty, limping around the salon in fluffy slippers.
What on Earth had she done to herself? I needed to know. It turned out that she had broken her big toe when somebody opened a door on her, trapping her foot. Ouch! Well, I was all ready, wasn’t I, with sympathy and a story of my own Broken Toe Experience.
Here is what you need to know about sharing painful experiences. When somebody is utterly miserable about their own misfortune, they do not want their comforter to tell them
that his / her own injury was so, so much worse. There should be no such thing as Oneupmanship when it comes to Broken Toes. I was therefore quick to explain that the toe I broke (incidentally the only bone in my body I have ever broken) was just a minor toe,
as toes go. Not the Big Toe that went to market, if you follow my drift, or even the one that stayed at home, or the one that had roast beef. No, mine was the one who had none. Poor piggy, poor toe. Plus, I said, I didn’t break my toe in anything like
such dramatic fashion; I simply stubbed my foot when venturing to the bathroom in the middle of the night - on a stepladder left on the landing. I like to think that I managed the right balance between sympathy and shared experience without ever suggesting
that my pain was greater than hers.
I have discussed my stylist’s Problem Shoulder with her over many visits. Today I was keen to pass on advice about coping
with life’s many issues with one arm in a sling. Though I say so myself as shouldn’t (as my dear mum would chide me) I am approaching a World Expert in One Armed Exploits. I think my advice was generally sound, managing to balance practicality
with pragmatism. Obviously I have never had to wash, cut, style, perm or colour anyone’s hair with only one arm or with a broken Big Toe which only goes to show how hard it is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Or fluffy slippers
My greatest efforts over the course of the hour were definitely expended on Minnie, who appeared unusually keen to make my acquaintance, hovering near me while I was
having my hair washed as if she wanted to chat. I did notice that she seemed to need the loo quite a lot but, you know, it comes to us all when we reach a Great Age. Not that it was easy to tell how old Minnie was to be honest.
I couldn’t help noticing, however, that on her return from one of her trips to visit the facilities she was shivering badly, poor thing. Now I, too, am one of Life’s Shiverers, in that
the moment I start shivering I simply can’t stop. So I knew exactly how Minnie must have been feeling.
Which is why when the lass who washed my hair
asked if I could give poor Minnie a hug to stop her shivering, there was no way I could decline despite the fact that we had only just made each other’s acquaintance. In fact, while waiting for my stylist to finish beautifying another customer, I took
Minnie onto my lap and cuddled her until, at last, her shivering stopped. Minnie didn’t have a great deal to say, compared with the others I had helped (in my fashion, in my way) but she was definitely the most appreciative.
Possibly because she was a chihuahua...