Count Dracula Has a Good Hair Day

November 09, 1994|By HELEN CHAPPELL

OYSTERBACK, MARYLAND — Oysterback, Maryland. -- After the Ocean City-bound Trailways pulled away from Ray Bob's Gas'n'Go, Count Dracula came out of the men's room and realized that he had missed the bus. When you're a thousand years old, your bladder just doesn't hold up like it did when you were only a kid of 500. His suitcase was on the bus, too. Right now it was headed for Thresher's Fries without him, with the pair of Ward decoys he had just purchased rolled up in his shorts.

''That's too bad,'' Ray Bob told him. ''There's another one tomorrow, though.'' Ray Bob phoned Ocean City and told them to hold the count's suitcase down to the depot. He told the count that he could spend the night at Ye Olde Colonial Watershed Bed and Breakfast over in Oysterback and even gave him a ride in the tow truck, since he was going that way.

''It used to be Ye Olde Colonial Watershed Tourist Home,'' Ray Bob explained apologetically, ''But you gotta change with the times, y'know?''

The count allowed as how he did know. He was still upset about his suitcase going to Ocean City without him. He intended that pair of Ward decoys for his castle in Transylvania.

Unfortunately, the Ye Olde Colonial was full, since the Swann-Dreedle Family Reunion was that weekend, but Miss Sister Gibbs called Miss Nettie Leery who called Venus Tutweiler, who said that the count could sleep on the fold-out couch in her TV room at the Shallow Shores Doublewide Park. She assumed that Count Dracula was in town for the family reunion; if he was related to the Swanns and/or the Dreedles, it was OK that he was a stranger; he knew people she knew. But since Venus had to work a double shift that weekend (they were doing inventory at Patamoke Seafood) the count would have to get his own breakfast. That was OK with him.

The fold-out had a wafer-thin, lumpy mattress and one of those bars that rubbed you right across the kidneys, and Venus made up the bed with the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger sheets she uses when her nieces and nephews come to visit. ''They're the only ones that fit that fold-out,'' she told the count apologetically on her way out the door to work. ''Help yourself to anything you find in the fridge.''

Unfortunately, he didn't know how to use the microwave, and when he went into the bathroom, everything was so pink and fuzzy and covered with fuchsia shag carpet, he was afraid to dry his hands on the towels and wiped them on his morning coat. The potpourri made him sneeze.

So, he took a walk around town.

Down to the harbor, he ran into watermen Junie Redmond and Huddie Swann, who told him quite a lot more than he wanted to know about Maryland politics, the seafood industry and Rush Limbaugh. Professor Sheppard told him the best place to eat in town was the Blue Crab Tavern, which was where he was headed, if the count wanted to come along.

The count, being a stranger in town, stood his new friends some drinks. He had a glass of Sangre de Toro himself, but it wasn't what he thought it was going to be. When Desiree Grinch, who runs the Blue Crab, gave him a menu, he sort of shook his head. She asked him if he'd like a nice rare steak, but Count Dracula thought she said ''stake,'' and she had to smooth his feathers down.

It was Huddie who had the bright idea of calling up the Boone Brothers We Fix and Road Kill Cooked Here Cafe over to Tubman's Corners, and after some telephone conferencing back and forth, Mike Boone brought something over in a biodegradable take-out package, which he called Small Mammal Sushi and that seemed to work out pretty well, although no one really wanted to watch the count eat it.

But he was used to that, and when Doreen came over from the Curl Up and Dye Salon de Beaute to pick up the lunches, he was ready to listen when she said he really, really needed a manicure, and maybe get some of that brilliantine out of his hair. A little trim would give him a new touch. ''A makeover,'' she suggested, ''would not be inappropriate, Count Dracula, honey.''

''And nobody wears white tie before six,'' Desiree added confidentially to him, patting his hand, ''Unless they're being buried.''

The count tried to explain that as one of the un-dead, well, uh, there were certain rules, but Doreen had already dragged him off to the Curl Up And Dye, where Jeanne shook her head over his cuticles, filed his nails, buffed them and applied a coat of clear polish. Fern shampooed him with PH-balanced, apple-scented stuff that made his nose itch, and gave him advice on which conditioner to use.

Then Doreen plumped him into her station and worked her magic on his hair. He was, she noted, getting a little thin on top, so she layered him up and used just a little Style Hold. He was so pleased with his new look he tipped generously and bought several salon products unavailable in Transylvania since the breakup of the former Soviet Union.

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