“How are you, dear child?” asked Lea.
“Do you realize you’re calling a “child” someone, who’s about to turn 30 any minute now? Bit inappropriate, don’t you think?” said Zoe to the phone in her hand as she stood up in her bed and looked around the dark room.
“It’s a figure of speech. And to me, you still are a very young lady indeed. Anyway, why do you deviate from the question?” said her grandmother at the other end of the phone line.
“Hmm, let’s think, I might be “deviating” from your clever question, because I don’t want to bloody think about it. Does this make sense?” Zoe raised her voice slightly.
“May I remind you that most of your life is still in front of you, which means that the best things in it are yet to come? There’s no need at all for you to be grumpy and bitter.” cheerfully said Lea.
“And may I remind you, Lea, that you don’t know anything about life nowadays and how it can annoy the shit out of you! You stopped living ages ago.” Zoe was nearly shouting.
“I know for a fact that you do not intend to insult me. After all, you seek my help whenever you write in that diary of yours.” said her grandmother.
“You’re right. I don’t know why I do that. It’s pointless. I need someone to talk to in real life, because this… you, are freaking me out!” said Zoe in one breath.
“There is nothing to be afraid of.”
“Of course, what else would you say? In fact, why don’t I just ask you something? What was happening in your life around the time you hit 30?”
“Oh well, I had my family to think of. Your father was just 10 at the time and your uncle was 8. They were naughty, naughty boys, I promise you that…and then there was you grandfather with his important job of running the local winery… So at that point, I was probably constantly washing dirty pants and ironing white shirts. There were no washing machines back then, I must tell you…”
“Oh, he was just 10… Brilliant! You had two grown-up children before you were my age…” Zoe felt annoyed.
“Things were different when I was young. For instance, we used to get married at a very early stage in our lives and…”
“Stop talking! This is depressing.”
“Oh, but it shouldn’t be. I’m actually trying to make you feel better about yourself.”
“It’s not doing the trick though, is it?” said Zoe quetly to herself then asked in a normal tone “How do you mean?”
“I meant to tell you that you have much more freedom now – of speech, of movement, of choice, in general. We never had time to think about how we felt or where we wanted to be. We just had to get on with life and cope with the events of it like grown-ups. Whereas you and your generation have the opportunity to pursue your dreams.”
“Our crap dreams that turned out to be the shit reality…”
“Do you see? Even the way you speak has changed in a great manner.”
“Yeah, sorry Lea, I’m in a bit of a mood lately.” said Zoe as she realized she’s been rude to Lea.
“Not to worry, you have been excused.”
“Oh, thank you, you’re too kind.” said Zoe and smiled for the first time since they’d started talking.
“There is a reason why I called you tonight, Zoe.” said Lea.
“And there’s me thinking you just wanted to wake me up and have a meaningless chat in the middle of the night.” Zoe had to admit that she might be going crazy, but she she’d at least enjoy the ride to the mental clinic.
“The reason being is to tell you that you should look after your appearance and care about the image of yourself you present to the world better.” continued Lea.
“Now who’s being insensitive?”
“It is just an observation.” said Lea.
“How dare you? I look after my appearance well enough, thank you very much.”
“Wearing fashionable clothes, a lot of make-up and outrageous hairdos is not my understanding of a style suitable to a young, sensible lady.”
“Nor are those huge, hideous beehives that you used to wear, which by the way, I suspect were wigs. And don’t try to deny it, I’ve seen the photos.” said Zoe and instantly felt amused.
“They were a little bit over the top, I agree, but they were stylish, elegant and made a woman feel very feminine indeed.”
“And me and my generation are just tacky, you say? Okay. You certainly know how to make a girl…sorry “a young lady” feel special.”
“I’m just stressing on to the fact that today’s hairdressing services and the cosmetics available to you are all very advanced and well developed and you should take advantage of that all. My aim is to show you that you should figure out how to feel unique instead of conforming to the current influences of modern culture. All of that comes and goes very quickly.” explained Lea.
“Can I just stop you there for a moment to remind you that when someone works in consumer PR they can hardly escape the environment you talk about.”
“I understand, but dear child, your hair has currently two shades of brown and maybe even some orange in it…”
“That’s cos I dye it at home on my own…”
“…and don’t even get me started on the clothes you sometimes wear…I’ve even seen men’s shirts and pants 5 times bigger than your actual size in your wardrobe!”
“Lea, relax. You’re gonna get yourself a heart attack and then what will I do? I don’t know the number for emergency, where you are.”
“I’m fine. I would like to see you wearing more dresses, that’s all.” said Lea.
“Listen,” continued Zoe, “my clothes are no different to what everyone else around my age is wearing right now, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about that. My hair, however, is a different matter. I simply haven’t been able to afford to go to a decent hair salon lately. And you know what? That’s fine too, because right now the hombre look is quite hot and I’m good at braiding and plaiting my hair to disguise the split ends…so Bingo, that’s my hair problem solved!”
“I don’t about what you consider to be hot or cold right now, but I can assure you – going to the hairdressers and having your hair done is one of the greatest pleasures in life, my darling.It has been and always will be.”
“I suppose one thing hasn’t changed that much since your time after all.” said Zoe as she sighed, “I’m gonna have to let you go now, Lea.” mumbled she as she tapped the screen of her phone to end the conversation. She closed her eyes and reached for the pillow. Since there was no one else to hold, the pillow was the subject of Zoe’s affection now.
The next morning was Sunday and Zoe was taking things slow in front of the laptop. She was enjoying a tomato and cheese toast and a Greek coffee while browsing the net and checking her social media accounts. She logged on to Facebook and a status update from someone called Lea popped right in front of her eyes. “Sundays are always great for a visit to the beauty salon”, read the post “don’t you think? Who else thinks Zoe is in need of a new haircut?” The post had gathered more than 500 likes. Impossible, thought Zoe, I dodn’t even know that many people. One of the comments read “’Bout bloody time”. Zoe blinked in disbelief against the screen. She didn’t even know a Lea on Facebook, for Christ’s sake. She blinked again and the post disappeared. I’m still sleeping, thought she as she shook her head, My grandmother isn’t on Facebook. Never has been, never will be.
Next she logged on to Twitter only to find the entire news feed full of tweets promoting hair and beauty salons. She sat there for a while, scrolling down the feed until she felt defeated. I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad to treat myself to a little birthday present after all., she nodded and phoned one of the local salons to make an appointment.