Not all heroes wear capes.

Whatever its origin, that saying has gone on to be a phrase of praise for those who save others from clickbait, satisfying the curiosity of others without their having to “put in the work,” that is, give a click. Of course, it is also used when referring to those who save children from burning houses, rescue dogs from puppy-mills, or video themselves giving shoes and fast food to homeless people.

It IS true, nonetheless, that not all superheroes wear capes. In fact, one of my heroes doesn’t wear a cape so much as flourishes it, and, with a flick of her wrist, pops the cape as smartly as any locker room towel snap. I watch as it floats before falling like chain mail as light as pixie dust, around my neck to protect my body from the rubble left in the wake of her true magic.

Her name is Yvonne Marek. She formerly owned Mane Tamers, a hair salon, in Gulfport, Mississippi, and she is one of those heroes who doesn’t wear a cape. 

The first time I met her, I was having one of those moments that are most definitely bigger-on-the-inside and a brilliant shade of blue. Only a couple hours prior, I had discovered—by Google, and not by first-hand witnessing—that my ex-husband was dead. I was not dealing well at all. I dialed her shop. My previous two hairdressers were no longer there, so I didn’t even know for whom to ask.

“When do y’all close?” I asked when she answered the phone. As it turned out, if her salon were a bar, my call would have come just as “last call” was announced. Half an hour, she told me, and I was about 40 minutes away with traffic. I have no idea how I made it in time.  Somehow, despite being in tears for the entire ride up the highway, I arrived without incident. 

And with a few minutes to spare.

I, like Buffy at the end of a life phase, needed change. Also, like Buffy, I wanted it gone, all of my hair. Perhaps Yvonne’s first act of magic was talking me out of a very bad decision.

A very bad decision.

“Your customer is here,” she told another woman who had apparently agreed to cut my hair as she picked up her purse and shrugged out into the foggy evening.

“It’s good that she left,” Yvonne whispered, leaning in conspiratorially, even though we were alone in the shop. “She wouldn’t have been able to do this cut.”

For having such boring, straight hair, it did seem to be a problem for most people.

Without my glasses, I am blind, my vision so dim that I saw blobs on a good day, and still-falling tears didn’t leave much room between blobs. I wasn’t numb, exactly, but every muscle in my body seemed to simply sink into her chair.

Afterward, my glasses once again perched upon my nose, I stared dully at the miles and miles and miles of hair that lay on the floor. She had transformed my Medusa-hair into a fashionable chin-length bob.

I appreciated both the cut and the accommodation, but that’s not why she’s my hero.

When I was fired-but-not-really fired in 2018, I awoke the next morning with purpose. I would finally have the mermaid hair I had wanted for so long, but was forced to abstain due to my work environment. The box was easy to choose—purple and teal. It was, according to the picture of the girl who was probably closer in age to my non-existent granddaughter than my non-existent daughter, and ombre—a bright teal transforming into a radiant purple.

That isn’t quite how it turned out.

In fact, neither bright teal nor radiant purple appeared. NONE of either color took. I had half-bleached, half-pond scum hair. So I tried it again, re-purchasing, re-bleaching and re-coloring. The pond scum had spread, and I had gone from Medusa-tresses (pretty much my default hair setting) to something that might have been hanging from the Creature from the Black Lagoon, had it been mummified and left floating in formaldehyde. 

It was just a few days after this that I found out that I really wasn’t fired, despite having a signed letter from the CEO saying that I was fired.

Funny how life is.

I panicked, called Yvonne, and begged her to fix my colossal fuck-up.

“What DID YOU DO?”

So I told her.

And she fixed it.

I don’t know the magic she wielded that day; all I know were the final results. In one hand, the mummified pond scum disappeared; in the other, a deep, rich, dark chestnut mare appeared, unbroken and tossing its head.

A freaking MIRACLE.

She closed the shop, but she still does hair.

That woman is MAGIC.

As it turns out, she’s also an artist. Painting is her groove. She’s evasive as far as an interview (cough, cough, nudge, nudge), but if you’re lucky enough to have a ‘do done by her, you can see much more of her work at her home. She has some fantastic stuff. 

She has a Facebook page here, but it’s not really representative of her work. If you happen to be in the Gulfport, Mississippi, area, you can currently see several of her prints and a few of her framed work at The Funky Phoenix at Sidney’s Unique Stuff–at least until the end of 2019.

Sidney’s is located at 3801 25th Ave, Gulfport, Mississippi 39501—Southbound Highway 49. 

[Disclaimer: The Funky Phoenix is my baby, and a business-in-progress.]

If you’re looking for something different for gift-giving this season, you should check it out. You may just find exactly what you’re looking for.

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