Two of my greatest loves back in the eighties were mountains bikes and hair. I am officially a beauty school dropout, thanks Greece for making that acceptable. I was a teenager living in a small town and this was my ticket out, The Vancouver Vocational Institute Cosmetology Department. I almost made it through but was lured out of completing the program by a flashy west end salon that wanted me to ditch school and join their creative team. Shit ya. I was eighteen and on my way baby. I had my bike and I had my plan, look out life. As evidence, I have a pretty substantial scar on my ankle from riding to work on the bike in pointy white leather Boy George loafers but it was the eighties, like I said, plan, bike, look out.
I eventually went across the pond to train at The Vidal Sassoon Academy in London England and then again across the pond to work on the north shore at Beverly Ball and Company. I was the company. One day there will be hair pictures but i’m not quite there yet. I have a fifteen year comedy career under my belt and I am still hesitant to put up eighties hair pictures…that’s saying something. Needless to say, I did not need a helmet.
Two things stuck with me big from those days. First is my ability to still do good hair.
Second is a little girl named Courtney.
Courtney was the first little kid I had ever met that had cancer. This was more than twenty years ago so infinitely more misunderstood and scary than it is today. Terry Fox was our only beacon of comprehension back then. Courtney’s Mom brought her in for a haircut and I made an instant connection with her. She was a curly headed, curious and joyful little girl that I couldn’t wait to see on her regular visits that would follow. She’d get boosted up in the big salon chair and although always had an eye on how accessible her Mom was, she had a streak of danger in her that was so totally game for whatever was going to happen.
Our foray into haircut land began with spray bottle to the head. I did her, she did me. It was classified as a rain shower. Then eventually a snow storm, blob of mousse on her head, and would end with a blow dryer wind storm and her in fits of giggles.
My Mom sent me a picture of her from the North Shore News where her parents were bringing awareness to children’s cancers through an event. A walk in this case. In her Mom’s face I saw something. I didn’t understand it then but I so clearly understand it now. A look of fear, determination and hope. A big smile that is just shy of catching up to her eyes. I think it’s called a brave face. I see it all over the faces of the Mom’s that I meet now, through this event. Mom’s who have lost a child, who are fighting for a child, who have their child back.
I recently tried to find out what ever happened to Courtney but couldn’t and i’m okay with that. I don’t know if I want to dig any deeper. That joyous little face is with me still, bouncing around in my memory like she bounced around the hair salon. One little kid with such a life force that I remember her so fondly decades later. I just hope that she is still enjoying the weather wherever she got to.