Subtitled “Fifty Years Behind a Styling Chair,” the book “Marines Don’t Have Curlers” is area hair stylist Robert Matuzsan’s series of vignettes that in one way provide fleeting recollections in the life of a hair salon owner — starting in Trenton (where he grew up and graduated from Trenton Central High School) and continuing today with a shop in Robbinsville.
However, since salons and barbershops attract people from all walks of life, such recollections also provide a glimpse of a time and region.
But what about the title? One part alludes to the stylist-turned-writer’s service as a member of the U.S. Marines. The “reloaded” reference refers to the book of 200 scenes originally published in 2015 by Merriam Press augmented and re-released by Personal Chronicle 9 in Robbinsville.
Here are a few samples in this book filled with drops of candy-like moments.
Miss Saint Patrick. I have always looked for ways to promote my salon and when I saw an ad in the local paper for a Miss Saint Patrick to ride on a float in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, I seized the opportunity.
One of my clients, Colleen, would be a sure winner. She was naturally blonde, had a warm complexion, blue eyes, and a great smile and was all Irish. This would be a salon project.
I took Colleen to the competition that was held in a local restaurant. She looked great, complete with manicured nail tips, makeup, hair extensions, dress right out of a fashion magazine, and heels. We found the room and before she entered I rechecked her hair so she would look outstanding as she made her entrance.
As Colleen entered the room, I peeked in to see our competition. There were about 10 girls, mostly jeans and T-shirts, freshly scrubbed faces. And the person conducting the interview? A Catholic nun. It looked like I brought a hooker to the interview. I undoubtedly read that competition wrong.
I let Colleen keep the extension.
Hairline. When Joe joined my salon team he brought with him his expertise in men’s hair replacement. Joe preferred permanent hair attachment, which is bonding a hairpiece directly onto the scalp using bonding material strong enough to keep hair on for up to six weeks, very much like superglue.
One afternoon as I went into the back of the salon to say hello to Joe and his client, I realized Joe was having a problem. While attaching the pre-glued hairpiece onto his client, Joe had incorrectly measured and had placed the hairpiece too low on his client’s forehead, about an inch above his eyebrow, and the glue had set. It wasn’t pretty as Joe’s client sat there patiently as Joe applied solvent to loosen the glue.
The hairpiece finally came off leaving a telltale almost bloody line on the forehead. I don’t know if Joe’s client booked a future appointment.
The Awakening. Janette, a young hairstylist who accompanied me to a funeral home, had never seen a dead person up close. She had been to one funeral but managed to stay in the back of the mourners successfully avoiding a close encounter with the coffin.
It was an older woman who died of cancer, gave a valiant fight, but lost in the end. She was lying in the casket, and our job as professional stylists was to make her look presentable for the wake to take place that same evening.
Our curling irons, scissors, styling combs, and hair spray were all situated on a small table next to the casket as we started to style her hair.
Janette was a little anxious but relaxed as we began curling and styling our client’s hair, stepping back and looking at our work from various areas of the funeral home.
It was very quiet as we put finishing spray on the hair when a curling iron fell off the table onto the marble floor making a loud clatter. Janette looked as if she heard a gunshot, wide eyed and wanting to leave, which we did after gathering our tools and calming her down.
The family and funeral director were very pleased with our work.
The Curse. Maria, a well-dressed professional woman of Italian descent, was convinced someone put a curse on her. Her life was not going well, and she was getting physical aliments in the form of aches and pains, and stomach issues. She was fearful she had the curse of the Evil Eye, the Malocchio.
Always wanting to help my clients, I told her I would ask a few of my Italian friends and clients and find out if anything could be done to help.
One of my clients knew of an older Italian woman in the Chambersburg section of town who might know how to lift the curse.
Maria was relieved when I gave her printed directions on how to rid herself of the Malocchio. It involved a glass of water, three drops of olive oil, and reciting a chant.
Maria never spoke of the curse again, and I didn’t ask.