Sunday, January 27, 2013
"Whatever Happened to Albert?"
When I was a teenager, circa 1974, I used to hang with my older sister in Atlantic City. She was newly divorced at 25 and had a little post divorce money and was no stranger to partying. We shacked up together at LaConcha,an old style blue and white two story hotel on the famous AC boardwalk, with a wrap around balcony. Our room faced the street, a seedy neighborhood of row homes interspersed with pawn shops and the occasional bodega. My girlfriends and I would run up to the roof top to get a view of the Atlantic Ocean and watch couples doing the promenade to dinner. The manpowered push carts lining the boardwalk rail, hawking a ride to strolling passersby.
Occasionally, my tan and bikinied sister would have a date, a guy she met at the pool, or a friend of a friend that had a friend looking for some companionship. She knew that I was mature enough to stay alone, but had a standby babysitter just in case. And that is where Albert comes in. Yes, Albert, I often wonder what happened to him. My teenage babysitter with a penchant for women's clothing and hair dye application. He was effeminate but not overly so, just a hint to get a handle on where he was coming from, if you know what I mean. I liked him instantly and thought of him as a supervising girlfriend. We would each take a bed and turn on TV and snack. Albert had what some would call, albeit, politically incorrect, a Jew fro. In fact, in my early 20's while working at the casino I met Don King, he reminded me of Albert. I would have commented on his hair but I figured he was tired of that verbiage; instead I stared, wide eyed at the gold chain hung heavily around his neck with his full name spelled out in diamonds. It surely upstaged his hair, at least for me, you see I knew Albert, and Don King's spiky silver locks were tame in comparison.
On this particular night, he was the consummate entertainer; he went into my sister's closet and pulled out a short midriff tank and a wrap around skirt with fringe. We laughed because the top was baggy where breasts should be and the wrap around skirt was more befitting someone with hips. His hair was outrageous, and Albert, if he had an electric guitar as a prop would have looked more like Jimi Hendrix than a cross dressing babysitter. We laughed as he vogued and then we got down to business. The business of dying my hair. You see in the early 1970's we all had wings, I can't explain the phenomenon, but the style was to color the wings and leave the rest of the hair natural. Albert and I mixed up the dye and applied it and after the rinse we marveled at the outcome. After blow-drying and styling my new do, I felt like a grown up, it was a rite of passage to get your hair dyed at 14, ear piercing would come later.
The best part was that in the middle of the night when we each were snuggled in our bed, the T.V as background noise. We woke to what sounded like an explosion, I jumped up as did Albert and we looked at each other horrified. “What the Hell was that." Albert squeaked. I ran to the bathroom and push opened the door to find that the left over hair dye had exploded and covered the walls, ceiling and floor. It dripped like frothy lemon meringue from the ceiling, coating the walls like taffy, sticky . The smell strong like ammonia. It was like a high school lab experiment gone awry. It was a lesson learned for years to come as I continued to dye my hair, never tighten the lid to the hair dye applicator, instead wash it out and toss it out. Albert and I cleaned the bathroom, and laughed about the mess. My hair looked yellow in the harsh light of the bathroom. I wondered what it would look like in daylight. My sister came strolling in around midnight, and my babysitter left for home. The rest of the week was uneventful, and summer flew by as I prepared for 9th grade at a new school,new friends and new experiences, but never a summer goes by that I don't think whatever happened to Albert?
Posted by Eileen Snyder at 10:04 AM