Dying with Laughter
By Emily Parke Chase –
Beauty shops would curl up and face permanent ruin if they depended on customers like me for profits. I cut my own hair. I wear no make-up. My fingernails are short and stubby. My most recent experience (fifteen years ago?) with having my hair done professionally resulted in a wild tornado of hair that rivaled anything a half-hour ride in my clothes drier could produce. I arrived home from the beauty parlor fifteen minutes before my children got off the school bus. Afraid that they might mistake me for a raving maniac, I jumped in the shower and had safely returned to my suburban cookie-baking-mom alter ego by the time they walked in the door.
You can thus imagine my surprise when my friend Charise approached me about leading a Bible study for a group of her beautician friends all of whom worked in local salons. Charise sells shampoos, dyes, and other supplies to beauty salons all over our area. She also shares her faith openly and had personally led several of these women to faith in Christ. “Would you be willing to disciple them?”
The first time I walked into the room with these women, I felt I stood out like a cowlick on bald head. Their tresses were styled and gelled. Each cuticle was neatly tucked away and every eyebrow plucked. Each lip was carefully outlined and glossed. The only element out of place was me.
The first lesson was on grace: They accepted me.
At the end of that initial class, I gave the women an assignment to complete at home.
“Homework?” Charise gasped. The women looked at each other in consternation.
My expectation that they would do the assignment shocked them as much as their manicures awed me, but over the next months we began to relax and enjoy our times together. We studied scripture. We laughed as they shared stories from their salons. And we prayed for each other.
One day we were meeting in the home of Debbie. The shrill ring of a phone interrupted our study, and Debbie excused herself to answer the call in the kitchen. A few minutes later she burst into the room. “Praise the Lord!” she shouted to everyone. “I’ve got five corpses!”
The other women exploded with excitement and crowded near to congratulate her.
I sat back in astonishment. What was going on? Were my friends part of some secret Aztec cult that sacrificed beating hearts on an altar? What kind of group rejoices over five corpses?
Charise looked over at me and observed my confusion. Smothering her laughter and recovering her breath, she explained that fixing the hair, nails and make-up of a person who had died brought in extra income. A corpse could be prepped at the stylist’s convenience, after normal business hours, even at midnight. And the best part? These clients never complained about how long the beautician took or if she pulled a hair or two too tight. Five corpses was a windfall for my friend.
Me? I still cut my own hair. I still don’t use lipstick or foundation. So when I die, don’t allow someone to paint me like Madonna. My new friends would die with laughter.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty disappears, but a woman who honors the Lord should be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 GNB).
(See Emily for yourself! Visit the author at www.emilychase.com.)