Behind the Wall of Sleep || Smithereens

I heard another song by the Smithereens on one of those flashback radio programs that trends towards playing “Cherry Bomb” on heavy rotation as an “alternative” hit, but I always had a weak spot for Smithereens. They wrote some “banging tunes” (as an old high school friend would say) back in their day. Two of their songs have always resonated really well with me, “Blood and Roses” is probably my favorite of the two, but “Behind the Wall of Sleep” probably has more nostalgic value in the long run.

The main reason it is a sticky song for me has to do when I still lived in Seattle and working in as a cosmetologist in the downtown Belltown area of the city. I kept odd hours so that the owners could catch the last ferry home and one of their clients decided she needed to have her hair color “refreshed” in time for a big event on her calendar.

She had a dark blond with heavy underlying red tones, but wanted her color to “pop” (in today’s parlance) in time for a gig she was playing a day or two later. I happened to have an open slot in the evening and she was the last client of the day.

She walked in and I couldn’t help but stare. She was about 6-feet tall and was wearing stiletto-heeled boots. Add in the fact that her hair was fucking big. It added 3-4 inches on top of her already intimidating height. All told, she was approach 7-feet. And she was boisterous as soon as she walked in, a total rocker-chick.

And she explained, she didn’t want just auburn hair, she wanted a winey-colored red so when the stage lights hit it, her hair would glow like it was smoldering fire. She played bass in her heavy metal all-women cover band and, although she didn’t strike me as someone easily ignored, she wanted to make sure the lead singer didn’t take all of the attention away from her.

As if.

To add to this bigger-than-life picture, she was gorgeous and ended up having a helluva nice personality to go with it (one of the kindest, nicest, friendliest persons I have ever met).

I was immediately enthralled and have to admit I developed a big crush almost immediately — something I never allowed myself to do as a hairstylist. There were guys I worked with who leveraged being a stylist to get dates, but it chaffed my ethical side when I witnessed such things, so I never even really let it even get to the “consideration” stage. I just “turned off” any interest I might have had in my clients — it just wasn’t an option as far as I was concerned. Until this client.

“The bigger the hair, the closer to God,” was what she said when I asked her how big to make her hair when I styled it at the end. We added another couple of inches compared to when she first walked in. I melted a bit as we laughed together.

Following my normal playbook, I kept it professional. We spent too long chatting and I worked well past the hours I normally did. She looked in the mirror after we were done, turned and gave me a huge hug. And then, she walked out the door after paying. I was too frightened to go catch her show in spite of the invite — I felt like an awkward teen for the first time in years and was afraid it would show if I arrived.

This song always brings back to that evening and part of me wishes I hadn’t been so chicken that night of her show. It would probably not ended up in anything, but I would have gotten a chance to see her playing bass, with hair like it was pure flame.

6 thoughts on “Behind the Wall of Sleep || Smithereens

  1. God, that last sentence was so good. I was telling my fiancee while watching Andor and other streaming series, the trend toward normal people and those less glamorous (i.e. moles, other facial imperfections) have become the Hollywood norm, much less in the music scene. Refreshing to reflect on what you’re saying and the new, gradual norm of inclusivity, especially the less than Beautiful People. I even marveled at the cast I saw for Some Like it Hot during the Thanksgiving Parade and silently applauded their devotion to outside-the-box “idealism.” Definitely goes back to denim and tee normality true metal and true alternative embraced.

    Liked by 1 person

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