Horror at the Beauty Salon

By Erika Hoffman

Snip, snip, snip. Scissors clicked away. My eyes were closed, as instructed. My ears alerted me to this cosmetic alteration. I felt her hand and the blade brushing my cheek.

Why did I decide on a make-over only hours before my son’s uptown, out-of-state wedding: a make-over done by a stranger in a salon where I was a first-time customer, essentially a stranger to her? This cosmetologist moved to the other side of my body. Snip, snip, snip. With eyes closed, my mind raced. Dare I ask what she’s doing? Did I want to know? Still I sat, sightless. I feared a twitch of the muscles beneath my eye might jar her hands causing me to lose the favorite of my five senses. Finally, with stomach churning, I meekly queried: “Ah, are you trimming my eyelashes?”

“Just the fake’s ones,” she replied.

“Huh? What? I have fake ones?”

“I glued some on. I’m cutting them to match the length of yours.”

“Oh my!” I winced.

“You’ll like them; it’ll open up your eyes. Haven’t you ever worn fake eyelashes before?”


“Keep your eyes shut. You don’t want glue to get in.”

I relaxed a bit, now knowing that my homegrown eyelashes had not been pruned off. I pondered how I’d look for my son’s nuptials after the spidery lash addition, different makeup, and curler-rolled coif. With eyes shuttered, I asked my artiste about her life and profession.

“Have you ever made-up anyone famous?” I inquired.

“Oh, yeah,” she said.

“Celebrities? Movie stars? Politicians?”

“The most famous person whose make-up I’ve done was… a writer.”


“For the book jacket’s back cover,” she explained.

At this point my rolodex of a mind was flipping through all the glamorous female writers’ back cover photos I could recall. I felt hopeful, suddenly.  Maybe I’d morph into a beauty who happens to pen bestsellers. “Let me guess: Jackie Collins?”

She laughed. “No.”

“Ah…” I paused racking my mind to come up with other sexy-looking scribes. There aren’t that many.

“A male writer,” she cued.

“John Grisham? I saw him in person. He spoke at my daughter’s UNC graduation.”

“Not him. But someone just as famous.”

“Hmm. I’m stumped. Whose make-over did you do?” At this point, I was really hoping someone like Channing Tatum had penned a book I didn’t know about.

“Stephen King!” she said matter-of-factly.

“Stephen King!” I shrieked.

“Uh huh.”

“The fellow with a mug that looks like he writes horror stories?”

She didn’t reply. Moments passed in silence as I tried to tamp down my rising panic. She instructed me not to peek while she continued applying eyeliner, eye shadow and then base, powder, blush. I’d already resigned myself to the realization that I’d just wasted 75 bucks and an hour of time on a busy day, but I took solace in the fact that I had a washcloth and some cosmetics in the hotel room. I could scrub my face, pluck off the phony lashes, rearrange and flatten my hair and still get to the church on time, maybe. Who’s going to notice the groom’s mom anyway?

Expecting to see the distorted face of the horror icon doll Chucky, I hesitated when my beautician finally said, “Mother-of-the-groom, you may open your eyes now.”

My eyes! They got big as Chucky’s as I stared at my new face. “Unbelievable!” I declared.

The receptionist stopped ringing up a client and peered over. “You look like a different woman from the one who walked in here.’

“What a transformation!” uttered another beautician.

I smiled broadly. “It looks like I’ve had a face lift! What a miracle worker you are!”

“It’s surprising what make-up can do,” my beautician replied.

“I look…stunning!” I exclaimed. I complimented her several times and handed her a big tip. On the way out, I whispered to my magician, “And, I don’t resemble Stephen King the least little bit!”

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman

    Erika Hoffman

    Erika Hoffman is a wife to one, a best friend to about six or seven, a past teacher to hundreds, a mother to four, a mother-in-law to three, a grandma to four under four, and a writer to thousands – hopefully!

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27 Responses to “Horror at the Beauty Salon”

  1. Funny piece, but seriously…now I’m thinking, thinking. My son’s getting married next month…do I dare risk a makeover? Thanks, Erika, for planting the notion that it might be OK to take some risks.

  2. Rose Ann says:

    Erika, loved this!! I’m sure you looked beautiful to begin with. Sometimes those little touches make us wonder why we didn’t didn’t try it before. Glad you were happy with the results on such an important day! By the way, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. Maybe (because I like his writing) I find him . . . interesting looking :)

  3. Erika is a much braver woman than I am. But the results were pure glam!

  4. Eileen T Williams says:

    You really stepped out and lived dangerously! I am always leery of make overs, and I definitely would have worried about one right before such an important day. You looked great and I can’t imagine letting go like that! This made me laugh!

  5. Ha! I, too, have only worn fake eyelashes once, and it wasn’t even for a wedding – my own or anyone else’s. It was for a Halloween costume! It’s funny what we ladies decide to try and when! Great piece, Erika!

  6. Lois T Bartholomew says:

    I know how you must have felt, Erika. Every time someone new cuts my hair I worry what I will look like the next day. I’d be a basket case if it were my eyelashes. Thanks for the laughs

  7. Lisa Tomey says:

    Love this! I was sitting here in anticipation of the worse and what a pleasant surprise!

  8. Cora Brown says:

    Congrats to you for having the courage to try something new on such a big day. You are a beautiful woman, and not just on the surface.

  9. valerie harris says:

    Love the story Erika. Your wit and keen observations shine throughout.

  10. Jane W says:

    Another funny writing from the life of Erika! Keep it up. And I agree with the response of Ms Brown. A beautiful woman, inside and out!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Really enjoyed this piece, scary and humorous at the same time. I’ve had some bad haircuts and then I was stuck with a horror hairdo until it grew out.

  12. Dallas Swan says:

    Brave, brave and funny but most important I want the name of that makeup artist. A great fun read.

  13. Sally M Moore says:

    Erika has such a talent, making an otherwise actionless event suspenseful and fun!

  14. Laura Shivar says:

    Every woman can empathize with this situation! Wanting to look your best at your child’s wedding but also second guessing the choice to let a stranger do your hair and makeup. Glad this story had a happy ending.

  15. Maria Frangakis says:

    Erika, a great, lighthearted, funny piece that you weaved seemingly without effort. That’s good writing. I agree with the ladies’ comments, your beauty shines through.

  16. Wonderful story, and how cool you have something in common with Stephen King:)

  17. Great story! I did the same before my son’s wedding, not a makeover but a first time for a fresh hairstyle. My experience was your fear! I went home, washed & restyled my own hair. Money wasted. Thanks. So glad yours turned out a plus!

  18. Claire Walker says:

    Thanks for the funny story, makes me remember times in the chair! Scariest thing at the time but can laugh about it now. You look beautiful Erika.

  19. Mary Clemmings says:

    Loved your story. We can relate to it. You look great.

  20. beth fallaize says:

    this is so funny i think this should be your bio photo you look great I am not sure about glue and eyes!

  21. Cynthia Atwood says:

    Enjoyed it, you area much braver soul than I!

  22. Jamie Weeks says:

    What an amusing story! You’ve combined just the right amount of trepidation with a happy sigh of relief for a delightful read. Well done!

  23. Claudia M Frost says:

    Fun story Erika. You look quite glamorous. I enjoy how you take a a brief moment in time and delve right to the heart with humor.

  24. Linda O'Connell says:

    Fun story from a brave mama right before a wedding. I was anticipating the worst and so happy to read the great outcome.

  25. Christine Jernigan says:

    I laughed out loud at the images this story evoked. I can so relate to having our looks in the hands of another.

  26. margaret wren de st aubin says:

    Love, love, love this story!!! Having just had my make-up and hair done for my son’s wedding, I understand Erika’s conflicting emotions! She expressed exactly what I was feeling by taking that leap of faith. Like hers, mine turned out perfect!

  27. Carol Trejo says:

    You are certainly a beautiful woman! And a very talented writer to be able to share that experience and make me feel I was in the beauty salon with you!

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