[Eubanks] Wig Stylist, Road Warrior | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Eubanks] Wig Stylist, Road Warrior

Friday, July 17 was one of my fullest, weirdest, most interesting days as an intern. I usually came into the office Monday through Thursday, but had extended my schedule as the last days of my internship approached.

I wonder if all Fridays at the JFP are like this.

First, I had to photograph items for the Chick Ball auction guide. This may not sound too thrilling, but 1) I'm a nerd, and 2) a Styrofoam head was involved. Sweet Potato Queens had donated several items for the Chick Ball auction: a pink tote bag, a book about "preserving your assets" (wink wink), a pair of cat-eye sunglasses, a tiara ... and a wig! Maggie showed me the items, but wasn't sure how the wig should be photographed.

"You could put all the stuff on, and I could take a picture of you," I suggested.

"Yeeeaaah ..." Not happening.

So she called The Orange Peel and asked if they had a head we could borrow. They did. I picked up the white Styrofoam bust, bald-headed as anything, and carried her back to my car. I was going places and doing things, by golly.

Back at the JFP, I set the bust on a small shelf sticking out from the wall in our storage room/photography studio. I took the wig out of its packaging and removed the spidery hairnet. The hair was long and copper-colored, the type of artificial auburn in Pantene commercials. I fitted the wig onto the bust, and beauty-queen curls descended half a foot below it. I untucked the bangs around the forehead, stood back and admired my work for a second.

Then came the black, cateye sunglasses with tiny rhinestones in the corners. Finally, the tiara. Now Miss Ya-Ya Sisterhood really looked fabulous. I took a photo. Miss Ya-Ya would surely inspire amusement if she were seen walking (floating? being carried?) down the streets of Jackson, but she wore an expression of complete serenity—she owned that tiara.

Later, as I was uploading my photos of Miss Ya-Ya onto the JFP server, Maggie said we needed a photo of Dan Blumenthal, co-owner and chef of Broad Street Bakery, with his new car. Huh? Apparently he was the first person in America to buy this car, whatever it was, and we were doing a story on it in the JFP Daily. So I gathered up my camera and drove to Banner Hall.

I parked on the side and saw a fancy-looking silver thing that looked "new," and I thought that might be it. But when Blumenthal introduced himself and took me out back to look at his car, I couldn't help but say, "Oh wow." This low-slung, black convertible roadster was parked near the dumpsters—not exactly a great photo op—so Blumenthal said we could go right across Interstate 55 to the BRAVO! parking lot. After looking around and making sure I couldn't take the photo where we were, I agreed.

Then he made the offer. "Do you want to just ride with me?"

I made a pathetic attempt to ponder the situation but quickly responded, "Yeah, sure." (Yay!)

He said he needed to tell me how to get into the car, and I gave him my bulky camera to hold. "Put your left foot in," he said, and I did, still standing. "Now put your right hand here." He pointed to the black bar behind the seat, and I did as directed, balancing on my left foot as I stepped into the car with my right. I slid down into my seat, my legs straight out in front of me under the dashboard. I was probably sitting seven or eight inches off the ground. Blumenthal returned my camera, and I put it in my lap, along with my phone and car keys.

"It's really good, once you're in," he said. Before we pulled out of the Banner Hall parking lot onto Frontage Road, Blumenthal turned to me and asked, "You don't have a weak stomach, do you?"

"Nah," I replied, with just a little more confidence than I felt. If we wrecked in this thing, we'd look like a smashed-up Coke can. "Plus I haven't eaten since like 8:30, so ..." I trailed off. He seemed satisfied with this.

We peeled out. He gathered speed like it was going out of style and stopped reluctantly at the red light at Meadowbrook. The light changed to green, and we turned left. Blumenthal switched to higher and higher gears in quick succession and whizzed past a couple of cars before turning left again. I hadn't thought to put my hair up. It was now tangled beyond salvage.

After taking three photos of Blumenthal in his car at BRAVO!, I handed him my camera and went through the car-entrance process again: left foot, right hand, right foot, slide down, legs out. I was a pro. I put my stuff in my lap, took the hair-tie off my wrist and twisted my hair into a tangled bun. Off we went again.

He drove even faster on the way back—I guess since I hadn't screamed on the way over. This time I had to close my eyes: I didn't want to know how we were getting around all those cars or how close we were to imminent death.

But that 30-second car ride was the most fun—I mean yell-out-loud, jump-up-and-down fun—I'd had in a long time. When I felt myself being sloshed toward the front of the car as Blumenthal slowed down (again, at the last second), I opened my eyes. We drove around to the side of Banner Hall where I was parked, and I handed him my camera as I reversed the car-entrance process. "Thanks so much," I said as he handed the camera back.

I entered my Toyota Corolla—butt and right leg first, then the left leg—and squealed like a little girl. Reeling with giddiness and ridiculously proud of the messy bun on the back of my head, I returned to the JFP office. I would spend the next four hours working on a story, and I would enjoy it. But for now, I was more than a mere journalist.

I was Katie Eubanks, wig stylist and road warrior.

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