Friday, March 28, 2014

I had gray hair. Then I dyed it and people take that sort of thing very personally.


As I have mentioned, I am beginning, the long, slow and sometimes painful process of getting my act together so that I am fit to be seen in public, in advance of the Fantasia Ball I am attending next weekend.

At first, I thought I might just shave my armpits and call it a day. But then, you know, I started thinking about all of the maintenance I do not participate in on a regular basis. Like buying makeup, or coloring my hair, or wearing a fancy dress. Even my elevens have gotten the best of me, I'm sorry to say.

The first order of business was the hair. I have been gray - really and truly, salt and pepper gray all over - for about 5 years. I dyed my hair red a few years ago for St. Patrick's Day, which was hilarious, but then I promptly had it cut about 1/2 an inch long all over my head.

Which in turn led me to dying it back to it's dark brown and letting the gray come in. It was a losing battle, trying to cover the gray. My hair grows fast and thick, and I had an almost constant strip of gray at my root line - which is SUUUUPER attractive and youthful.

I wasn't fooling anyone, is what I am trying to say. Also, denial.

"You can't be too much older than I am," said a woman who was definitely older than me, during a casual conversation one day a few months ago. She looked good, don't get me wrong. I just happened to know she was older than I was. Outwardly, I thought we looked around the same age. The only difference was, she was blonde. And I was not.

"Huh." I thought. "Why would she think I was older than I am?"

So for the last few years I have been gray, and fine with it. Really and truly fine. I got a few blonde highlights every once in a while to keep 'em guessing, but mostly I just let it be. Until I got a wild hair and decided that I wanted to go full-tilt Audrey Hepburn breakfasting at Tiffany's on this ball thing, started searching for a long e-cigarette online, and sent a text to my hairstylist Adiel:
"Let's go dark."

I could almost hear the squeal coming from 15 miles away. "Yes." she said (the "finally" was left unsaid, but certainly implied.) When I arrived at the salon, everyone in the place knew I was there to dye my hair. The receptionist, the other stylists, even the chick in the first chair knew what was about to go down. I have spent a lot of years having hairstylists ask if they could color my gray hair, so I thought it was just unique to the profession, to have such strong opinions about going gray. Boy, was I wrong.

So I sat back, and let them have at it. I did not give any instructions, I did not look at swatches or discuss warm vs. ash tones, or anything. I just sat down and said "Okay, go."

It took a while. Joyce showed up to document the big reveal, but I wasn't ready yet.

So we had a drink.

Just one, mind you. Heavy on the OJ.

Ella took a little nap while we waited.

Then I needed a haircut.

An hour later, my chair was rotated back towards the mirror. "What the hell have I done?" was the first thing I said. My stylist was more concerned about my bangs than the color.

And then, naturally, I posted a photo on Facebook. The reaction, it was swift.
The first thing I noticed is that everyone thinks I look better - and younger - without gray hair. Apparently, while I was walking around feeling empowered, I was also walking around looking 20 years older than necessary.


And then, some of my friends and family who have gone gray started to get a little protective. Okay, defensive. Tomato tomahto.
My mom got involved.
People realized my mom was reading, and toned down their responses.
"I like your hair either way." a few said diplomatically.
But the vast majority were markedly relieved that I had finally ditched the gray. And that's okay. I'm glad it looks good, because I really do want to look nice for the event, and I definitely don't want to look 20 years older. So yay for hair color.

But it's only temporary.

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