C.J.’s birthday is six months away, so – naturally — he thinks it’s time to start planning his party. Last year we celebrated with lunch, shopping and pierced ears for his doll at the American Girl store in Los Angeles.
How does he plan to top that?
By having his eighth birthday party at a wig and hairpiece store.
We were at the mall when he shouted, “I’m going to have my birthday party there!!!”
When I whipped my head around, I saw him pointing to Pauls Products – which serves the nearby retirement community, with its population of 16,000 and median age of 78 years.
“Take my picture in front of it and send it to Uncle Michael!” he said as he posed by the store with a hundred well-coiffed heads. When C.J. thinks something is so fabulous that I can’t possibly appreciate it, he has me take a picture of it and text it to my brother.
I did as I was told.
“Now, let’s go tell them I want to have my birthday party there,” he said, swiftly turning on a heel.
“Your birthday is six months away. We don’t need to go in there today. We have some time,” I said stalling. I hoped he would forget about Pauls Products and move on to the next great birthday party idea. What kid has their birthday party at a wig store?
“But, I don’t want them to get all booked up,” he worried.
“That’s not the kind of place that usually hosts birthday parties,” I said.
“They will if you ask them. Let’s go see,” he said, ever hopeful.
“I’m not going in there. It’s creepy,” Chase said.
C.J. looked at me and I could tell he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
“If we do go in there for your birthday, we won’t be able to take a lot of people.” I was trying to manage expectations without killing hope.
“That’s okay. I just want Uncle Michael. Cause I know he’ll like it. Oh, and Grace. Cause she’ll like it too. And Grace’s Mom cause somebody has to drive Grace.” He was counting his guests and held up his fingers to show me that that was only four people. I guess I wasn’t invited.
“I’m gonna try on so many wigs. And I’m going to buy one,” he continued.
Shit. I guessed the wigs are really expensive because they looked very nice; not $15, like the chunky, rough ones he loves to get from the costume store before Halloween.
“If I get the wig, I get to keep the head right?” he asked.
“Oh god, I hope not!” Chase said instinctively.
“No you don’t get to keep the head,” I said, like I knew what I was talking about.
“Thank god,” Chase said.
I tried explaining that the wigs were meant to be for people losing their hair due to medical reasons or age and that they weren’t just for dressing up and playing around in.
“But wigs are for everyone,” he argued. He was using my own words against me. I’m always saying everything is for everyone. Colors, skirts, dolls, wigs.
C.J. reluctantly followed Chase and me away from Pauls Products and to the car. He kept talking about the wigs and his birthday party.
“Maybe Uncle Michael knows of a wig shop in Hollywood where we can go instead,” I offered. Wondering where my brother’s actor, performer and drag queen friends get their wigs and hairpieces.
“Do they host birthday parties at Uncle Michael’s Hollywood wig stores?” CJ asked.
I told him I’d check into it when we got back from vacation.
Two weeks later, as we walked through the front door after seven hours on airplanes and in airports, C.J. reminded me to start looking into wig stores for his birthday party.
As I looked up the number for Pauls Products, I wondered how many other mothers had to do this for their sons.
I called Pauls Products, feeling guilty for taking up the wig store worker’s time when they could be helping someone who legitimately needed a wig.
“Hi, would I need an appointment to try on wigs at your store?” I asked very sweetly.
“No, but you have to pay five dollars for every wig you try on,” the Pauls Products employee answered.
“Do you allow children to try on wigs?”
I was quiet, thinking about the pediatric cancer patients who may be in need of a wig, but couldn’t get one at Pauls Products. I was silently feeling sad for them.
“Okay. Kids can try on wigs, too,” they said. “But, it’s still five dollars per wig.”
They didn’t seem thrilled about having kids in their shop. I couldn’t blame them.