Saturday, January 23, 2010

Does She or Doesn't She?

It's the pitchline for the old Clairol campaigns. My hairdresser knows because I told her, by the way...home haircolor has improved to such a degree that I can do my own dyeing and it looks pretty natural (man, that always makes me think of funerals: "Don't she look nachral?").

Long about my sophomore year of high school, yes, high school, I started going gray. There was this tiny cluster of about seven or eight white hairs that sprouted right up front at the forward edge of my part. Since I was a whopping fifteen years old, my brilliant solution was to pluck them, or when I could get away with it, add a little unnatural highlighting in purple, brassy gold, or red to cover it up.

As time passed, the little patch proliferated until, by the time I hit my first full-time library position, I had a pretty good streak going. My stylist back home lamented that it wouldn't "take" color, since in her vast experience pronounced streaks like mine didn't. In any event, I was only twenty-five and baby-faced; I believed that the gray lent me an air of maturity. I let it ride.

Several years later, my best friend's wedding was approaching. She'd requested that all the attendants allow their hair to grow long so that we could wear updo's- being the Maid of Honor, I took it pretty seriously and also turned out to have been the only one who actually listened- but along with the rest of my hair, the grey streak grew out as well. Its increased length made it oh, so obvious. That's when I discovered the joys of coloring my hair.

Recently, during the holidays, with my professorial promotion folder due and both Thanksgiving and Christmas chores looming, I let my hair go a little too long between touch-ups. My sister came up, tweaked the front of my hair as I was making casseroles on Christmas day, and said, "I think you should leave it alone. It looks distinguished." Okay, I am a professor, a real-live, full-time, card-carrying Academic, but I am also forty, still baby-faced and able to pass for about ten years younger. Distinguished be hanged.

The next available window of opportunity found me planted in my bathroom with vinyl gloves and enough bottles and tubes to set up a pretty good chemistry experiment. You be distinguished, Little Sister- I'm going to be brunette until I dye it all right on out of my scalp! If they ever introduce home Botox, I'm there, too.

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