|Betsy Bobs Her Hair
Author: mistralcat PM
Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace: Betsy's worried when Joe withdraws into himself again. What can she do to break him out of it?Rated: Fiction K - English - Words: 1,747 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-26-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5402703
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Betsy, Tacy, and all their friends belong to Maud Hart Lovelace, or her heirs. I own nothing but the words.
Betsy sat in front of her vanity and watched Joe in the mirror. They had just returned from the Hutchinsons' Christmas party, and she had begun her normal after-party ritual. Usually, after a party, she got ready for bed slowly, unwilling to let the good time go. And usually, by the time she got to the point of pulling out all of her hair pins and shaking her dark hair over her shoulders, Joe would come and stop her, laughing. Tonight, he just lay on the bed, staring up at the ceiling.
He had been like this for weeks now. He had had low times before, of course - before Aunt Ruth came to live with them and Betsy hadn't wanted her to, and after he came back from the war were two of them. But all the other times, Betsy had known what was wrong. Now, she didn't.
She did know that when he was low, he wanted to be left alone. So she couldn't do what she wanted, which was to ask him what was wrong. He would tell her when he was ready, and not before. But she worried, because he didn't seem to really see her anymore.
Betsy finished her preparations and got into bed, cheered because Joe immediately drew her into his arms. Maybe, she thought as she drifted into sleep, maybe he'll come out of this soon.
The next morning, though, she knew that it wouldn't be soon. As Joe left the house to go to work, he straightened his shoulders deliberately, before striding off, not swinging his cane. That was enough - she knew he wasn't happy about facing the world. After her usual morning chores, Betsy went over to Tacy's to pour out her troubles to her always sympathetic friend.
Tacy and Harry had finally bought a house the year before, and five-year old Harry Jr. and his younger sister, Beth, were playing in the front yard when Betsy arrived. After being greeted enthusiastically by them, she found Tacy in the sunny parlor, singing her youngest daughter to sleep. Tacy entered into her problem immediately.
"I thought Joe seemed slightly withdrawn at the party last night," she said. "And you can't think of anything that might be wrong?"
"Well, no," Betsy said. "Except...well, maybe he's tired of me."
"Oh, Betsy," Tacy said, her blue eyes twinkling. "I'm sure that's not it."
"I don't know. He never...notices me anymore. It's almost as if I'm not even there most of the time."
"Hmm," Tacy said, serious now. "I'm sure he's not tired of you, but maybe he does have a problem that's occupying all of his thoughts. You know that Joe loves you, Betsy, but you also know how single-minded he can be."
"That's true," Betsy said. She wished she could tell Tacy the reason she was especially worried about this - finally, after all these years of trying, she was going to have a baby. Tacy and Carney both had four children, Tib had two, and even Julia had taken time out of her busy schedule to have a daughter. But though Betsy and Joe talked about Bettina all the time, nothing had happened. Is that the problem? Betsy wondered, not for the first time. But she knew it wasn't. Joe would continue to love her, even if she never had a baby. She longed to tell Tacy - she had always told Tacy everything - but she wanted Joe to hear this news first. But she wasn't going to tell him when he was practically ignoring her - she wasn't going to use this news as the way to win him back.
"Maybe you should do something drastic to your appearance," Tacy said, smiling slightly. "Remember when you came back from your visit with Tib in high school completely changed? You attracted a lot of attention then. Not to trick Joe, just to get his attention, and then you can talk."
"How can I do that?" Betsy asked.
"I don't know. We need Tib," Tacy said, and sighed.
Betsy sighed, too. Tib and Jack had moved to California three years ago. Jack had stayed in the Army Air Force after the war, and was stationed at an air base there. Betsy and Tacy knew Tib was happy, and they were happy for her, but they missed her.
Then, Betsy brightened. "I can ask Julia when she comes for Christmas," she said. It was the first time in years that Julia, Paige, and little Margot were coming back for Christmas.
When Betsy told Julia her problems, she didn't think Betsy had much to worry about.
"You know Joe loves you, Bettina," she said. "He's probably just having problems at work. Maybe a story that won't work out."
"Joe's stories always work out," Betsy said indignantly. "Besides, this has been going on for weeks!"
"Well, I still think you needn't worry," Julia said. "But, if you want to do something drastic to your appearance, the obvious thing would be to bob your hair."Betsy gasped. She knew that girls were doing that these days; she had even seen some bobs, and thought that the girls' heads looked unfinished somehow. She had never thought of doing it herself.
Julia took out Betsy's hair pins and combed her fingers through her hair. Betsy sighed, remembering all of the times her sister had done her hair for her. Humming softly, Julia lifted Betsy's hair to approximate a bob.
"You would certainly look different," she said, examining her critically. "I think it would suit you." And that was that. Betsy was swept up in a whirlwind, down at the hairdresser's having her hair cut almost before she even realized it. She managed to get through the ordeal by keeping her eyes closed, flinching a little at every snip of the scissors. Only when it was all done, and Julia was cooing over the transformation, did she force herself to open her eyes.
She saw a stranger in the mirror. Always before, her hair had all been above her face, and now it was to the sides and below. But she thought, with surprise, that Julia was right - it did suit her. Her face had always been round, even after she had lost her puppy fat, and the way her hair now swept forward near her chin minimized that. Her hazel eyes twinkled at Julia in the mirror.
"Well, Joe always likes me to be up-to-date, so I hope he likes it," she said.
"He'll love it," Julia said with her usual confidence.
Betsy's own confidence waned when they went back to the Rays' for the usual Christmas Eve festivities. Joe had had to work, and he was going to come to 909 afterwards. Everyone else exclaimed with surprise at Betsy's hair, and though most of the family eventually decided to like it, including Margaret's new husband, Clay, there for his first Ray Christmas, Margaret herself didn't. What with one thing and another, Betsy just wasn't in the Christmas spirit, so she put on her coat and waited for Joe on the porch. When he had left that morning, the brave thrust of his chin had been almost more than Betsy could bear. So she was shocked to see him come sauntering up the walk, swinging his cane, his old swagger definitely back. She couldn't wait a moment - she threw herself off the porch and into his arms.
"Oh, Betsy, I'm so sorry," he murmured into her hair as he held her tightly. Then, he pulled back. "What have you done to your hair?"
She smiled up at him. The old Joe was back - what did she care about hair?"I got a bob," she said. "What do you think?"
"I think I like it," he said, taking her chin in one hand and turning her head back and forth. Then he looked into her eyes. "Had you told me you were going to do this, and it just didn't register with me? Because, if so, I'm really, really sorry, Betsy. I know I haven't been behaving well to you lately..." He trailed off, because she was shaking her head.
"No, no, I hadn't told you. But what's been wrong, Joe?" She could ask that now that he was happy again.
"Well, you see, Brad has been wanting to make me managing editor of the paper," he said.
"But then you wouldn't have time to write!" Betsy said, her eyes wide with dismay.
"Exactly. I'm happy as the head features writer, I don't enjoy editing other people's work - except yours, Betsy. And I really wouldn't enjoy all the politics and minutiae that would go along with the editor's job."
"I should think not. I'm surprised Brad expected you to," Betsy said indignantly.
"Well, it would mean a lot more money. He kept saying I should do it for your sake, which made the decision very difficult."
"Joe!" Betsy said. "As though I would want you to choose money over doing something you love! Besides, you sell enough stories to The Thursday Magazine that we almost don't need your salary."
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Joe said, smiling down at her. "But I knew that was what you would say, which was why I couldn't tell you about it. I had to make this decision myself, but it's been tearing me up, and I know I haven't been treating you well. Today, Brad finally took my 'no' as a definite answer, and I'm feeling free." He took both of her hands in his and swung her around so that her hair flew. Then, he reached up and ran his fingers through it.
"Yes, I think I'm going to like this," he said, grinning down at her.
"Joe Willard! Who said you could mess up my hair?" Betsy said, though the way she was smiling took all the sting out of her words. "Oh, Joe!" she added, smiling even more. "I have some more news for you..."