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In most fairy tales Queens are portrayed as all loving or conniving; they evoke strong feelings—admiration or aversion—within the depths of their listeners. However, in The Snow Queen (1844) written by the Danish Hans Christian Anderson, another Queen appears: beautiful, gifted with spells, riddles, mysteries, but ice-cold in her demeanor. She creates havoc in the lives of two children, Gerda and Kai, and gets away with it.

So what to make of this Queen who wields such power? Certainly Hans Christian Anderson would know, firsthand. His queen was the Swedish Songbird of classical opera, Jenny Lind, who twaddled his adoration for her in the 1840s. Friends, only, they would remain, but she still lives in his fairy tale, unapproachable and frigid in her palace.

Unlike other storytellers who fashioned dramas from issues clashing in their unconscious, Anderson drew his from the conscious world, but dressed them up within the classical components of fairy tales: good vs. evil, animals as messengers, disguises, witches, spells, darkness, superhuman tasks, effective synchronizations, death, resolution, and and many more.

However, in The Snow Queen these components hang loosely in this seven-part tale, insufficient to wrest psychic transformation in listeners. What redeems this tale, however, is Gerda’s tearful kiss; it melts Kia’s frozen heart and frees him from the Snow Queen’s evil spell. The children return to their village, much wiser.

Still, Anderson penned some good tales—change-of-heart stories still work.  

Snip—Snip—Smidgens of hair tickle my cheek, then splay upon the cape snapped around my neck. A glimpse into the oval mirror above the styling table catches the sinewy forearms of my hairdresser as he pauses before gripping the scissors and resumes cutting my bangs. Chatter and funky music pump up the busyness in his salon.

Again, I look into the mirror. Puffiness beneath my brown eyes and white-hair flecking my temples reveal my aging. It wasn’t always like this. A much younger face looked back at me when I had first sat in his styling hair. That was thirty-five years ago.

The first chair was in the Casual Coiffe in St. Louis, Missouri, a salon owned by his uncle. Not only was I surprised by his precision haircut, but also his kindness drew me to return every four months.

Over the years, pieces of his story emerged: an avid reader; working with his uncle and managing a fourplex in the Tower Grove area; his marriage and helping to birth two sons, parent, then empower them to be on their own; his first salon, with two subsequent changes in venues. Care lines in his clean-shaven face deepened as he styled hair and later cared for the needs of his infirm uncle, even his death and the disposal of his cremains in Ohio. Annual family vacations over the years to Mexican beaches sparked even more stories.

However, styling hair eventually became an occupational hazard that required several shoulder surgeries followed by painful convalescences. Once healed, he was back at work.

Helping his patrons, through the artistry of his hands, recalls a saying of Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23.

His name is Rob, of Rob and Company Salon in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

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