“Bella, the guys at the precinct just aren’t taking me seriously,” Sonny whines to his sister on Saturday night. “And neither are the gals.”
“Women,” she corrects.
“Come on,” he replies. “Does it really make that much of a difference what I call them?”
Bella throws up her hands. “Come on, Sonny. What century are we living in?”
“The present one,” he jokes.
She just shakes her head. “Yeah, so women aren’t called ‘gals’ anymore. That might be one of the reasons they don’t like you.”
“Yeah.” Bella reaches out and strokes his upper arm. “Now, look, I know you’re a great guy – that you have a good heart – but no one here in Manhattan is going to get that if you bring too much of Staten Island with you.”
“You still talk like you’re from Staten Island,” he points out.
“Yes, I may still sound the same but there’s a difference in what I choose to say. I don’t say things the same the way that I used to, just casually and all – abrasive things that our friends from home get. Some of the things we are used to saying just don’t mean anything to us but may seem rude, obnoxious, or insensitive here. You get me?”
“Well I don’t want people to think I’m insensitive ‘cause I’m not.”
“I know, Sonny, I know. But people out here . . . they take things a certain way, you know? You can’t just say stuff that might sound sexist even if you mean nothing by it. And heck, you’re working SVU now, right?”
“Yeah I’ve been doing that for a while.”
“I really think you need to work on using that filter Mom keeps nagging you about. Especially now – especially there.”
“Look, I’ve talked this way my whole life. It’s not that easy, Bella.”
She puts her hands on her hips and cocks her head to the side. “Sonny, you went to college right?”
“So you’re able to learn. I’m just saying you might want to work on that.” She waves a hand up and down at him from his head to his toes. “And that.”
“That,” she says. “Your whole look. It’s 2014 now you know.”
“What’s wrong with this?” he says, spreading his arms.
“You look like a parody of a cop from the seventies. You know, like in Sabotage.”
“That was my favorite Beastie Boys video!”
“Yeah, but you shouldn’t be using it as a guide for your personal style.”
“I’m not – “
“When did you grow that mustache?”
“Right after I joined The Force.”
“Oh,” he says and ponders that. “Well, I thought it would make me look more like a cop. And Mom always says . . .”
“. . . Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” Bella finishes for him. “So . . . aren’t you a cop now? Isn’t that the job you’ve already got?”
“Yeah.” He sighs and looks down. “Guess I need a new look, huh?”
“Yeah,” she says, “How about a more professional one? Since you’ll be a lawyer soon.”
“That sounds good.”
She heads back to his bathroom, grabs his razor, and hands it to him. “Here, start with this.”
The following evening Bella is once again over at her brother’s place just hanging out. Her boyfriend Tommy is working the early shift this week and she gets lonely and bored when he goes to bed at such an unreasonable hour and leaves her all alone to amuse herself.
After dinner she looks Sonny over, deep in thought.
“What?” he says a little defensively.
“Your new look.” She walks around him saying “Hmmm . . .”
“What is it?”
“It’s not quite right.”
“Is it the hair?” he asks, self-consciously touching it.
“Yes that’s it!” she exclaims. “The duck hair.”
“Yeah, like totally. You look like you’re from the 80’s, dude.” She chuckles.
“Huh?” he says and goes back to his bathroom to check it out in the mirror.
“You’ve practically got a mullet there, Sonny,” Bella says following him in, turning him so that he can see his profile, and pulling at the ‘tail’ at the base of his neck so he can see what she is talking about. “You never even wore those growing up. They were out of style by the time Mom stopped doing your hair for you.”
“Yeah, that looks kinda weird now that you point it out. But it’s subtle. Does anyone really notice?”
“Here, let me try something.” Bella heads back into the other room to get something out of her purse.
“You’re going to beauty school now? Forgot everything you learned in college?” Sonny jokes when he sees the hair clippers she has in her hand.
“You, know sometimes I need these – for split ends. So I carry them with me.”
“In case you need an emergency hair cut?”
He just raises his eyebrows.
“Face the mirror.”
Sonny hears a few snips behind his neck. “Not too much now.”
“Don’t worry,” she reassures him.
He sighs. His sister would make him into her own personal Barbie doll if he let her.
“There!” she says proudly and turns him around so he can see.
“It’s short back there,” he complains touching the hair at the nape of his neck.
“You’ll get used to it.”
“We’ll get you looking spiffy in no time.” She winks. “Trust me.”
She reaches into his medicine cabinet and grabs a bottle. “And now – gel.”
“Ugh, Bella come on. I know how to do my own hair here. I’m not seven anymore – and you’re not Mom.”
“Look Sonny, you don’t do it right. What is that clumpy mess?” she says pointing at the top of his head.
He pats it. “What are you talking about?”
“This,” she says grabbing a strand of his hair that’s all stuck to itself. And then another piece hanging in another direction and that’s also all clumped together. “And this. It looks like you woke up and just put some gel in your hair.”
“Did you comb it?”
“No, I just ran my fingers through it.”
“You see, that’s the problem, Sonny. You need to take the time to actually STYLE it. Otherwise you’re just randomly cementing your hair in place. It looks like a mess even though you attempted to do something with it. Let’s see . . .”
Bella digs around in his things in an effort to find his comb – she can’t use hers – the teeth are too wide for the precision styling a man’s haircut demands. Finding it takes quite a while, although eventually she finds it buried under his sink behind a ton of stuff.
“Are you in the habit of hiding this or something?”
“I use it,” he says defensively.
“Sure, I believe you.” Pause. “NOT.”
He gives her a lopsided grin.
Bella begins showing her older brother how to actually style his hair. With a comb.