A Bad Hair Day // The sheitelmacher didn’t make the cut

As told to Chaya Gross

When I finally decided to buy a new wig seven years after I got married it was a big deal, at least according to my family members. Everyone had an opinion as to which brand to buy, which style suited me best, and of course, where to go to make the grand purchase. This was great, because I was completely clueless about these things. The problem was that everyone disagreed with everyone else. Where would I get the best bang for my buck? The only thing everybody agreed on was that it was vital that the sheitel be cut by Rachel in Flatbush. Rachel had cut my other wigs before my wedding, but I was no longer living in Brooklyn. I’d moved to Lakewood several years ago, and I had no intention of making the journey simply for a cut. Besides, when you buy a wig from someone, the cut is included in the price. If I went elsewhere, I would need to pay for the cut separately. But my sisters were adamant.

“The cut is everything,” my sister Toby insisted. “And even if your wig turns out to be a lemon, a good cut can turn it into lemonade.”

“I do not intend on getting a lemon,” I pointed out.

“You know what I mean.”

All of my other sisters agreed with Toby’s sentiment, and they were very outspoken about it, not leaving me much of a choice. So much for sisterly love. But deep down, I really agreed with them. A good cut really makes a wig, and Rachel was truly worth a trip from anywhere. She’d been in the business for over 20 years and really knew her stuff. So after I finally decided which brand to buy and shelled out the money, my very kind sister Chani graciously hunted down Rachel’s phone number. She had recently moved, so finding her number was a little difficult.

“You’re very welcome,” Chani said after she rattled off the number. “I had to make four phone calls in order to get it. Good luck.”

I called Rachel and was pleasantly surprised when her secretary told me I could come in that very week. It usually took months to book an appointment with her. The next thing I had to do was find a way to get there. I didn’t drive, and while my sisters were very enthusiastic about me going to Flatbush, they weren’t at all excited about taking me there. I finally convinced my good friend Leah to make a trip out of it. We would spend the day in Flatbush, not only cutting my wig but eating out in a fancy restaurant, and of course, doing some shopping.

Leah picked me up bright and early, and I climbed into her car with a snood on my head and the wig in my hand. She giggled when she saw me.

“I have never seen you exit your house in a snood,” she said as I buckled myself in.
“Me neither,” I replied. “But one wig is currently getting washed and the other is set for a bar mitzvah tomorrow night. After I get it cut, I’ll wear this one home. Just make sure to park right in front of her house. I’m mortified to walk down the street like this.”

“Why don’t you just put it on now?” Leah suggested.

“Right now it’s a shapeless mop,” I explained, “and it’s much longer than I plan on wearing it. I want her to cut some bangs and shorten the whole thing a good few inches.”

“Sounds good,” Leah replied. “I’ll be there for moral support.”

“Just put her address in your GPS and let’s go.”

When we finally arrived I did a double-take when I saw the building she lived in. If Rachel had moved, I expected something a little bit nicer than the previous place she’d occupied.

To read more, subscribe to Ami