It’s a gray area. Shades of gray. You can make all the jokes you like, but this gray hair business is serious. Home hair color is an almost $2 billion-a-year industry, but I was only worried about how to get the contents of one, $10 box of Dark Blond onto my head in the most stealth manner possible.
“I need an hour, alone” I told the family last Saturday morning. Based on the looks they gave me, they must have frightened themselves imagining my plans.
“Why?” Noah, obviously the only brave one in the bunch, asked.
“I need to enhance my hair.”
I wasn’t ashamed, exactly. I’ll quickly admit that I have been hitting the bottle for years. It’s a simple system reboot, really. Usually I handle the messy business when everyone is gone for the day. They return and my hair is magically restored to its factory settings. But I had missed the window of alone-time opportunity for three weeks and a few nasty grays were taking over my head.
It’s not that I don’t think gray hair isn’t attractive. I do. There are some women my age-ish who sport a fabulous head of silver. Someday I hope to be one of them. But that full silver- or even 75% full head is years away. To me, the minimal gray I have looks, for lack of a better word, blah.
I may not be ashamed that I color it, but I certainly didn’t want the family to have to witness how it gets that way.
“Sure,” they said.
“We’ll leave you alone for an hour,” they said.
I was so desperate to de-blah that I believed them.
With the bedrooms doors closed I ran to my closet. I dug down below the thick turquoise robe; below the white terry robe, and there, under the silky show-off robe, I found it: The Robe of Many Colors.
The blue chenille robe had begun life cute enough … in the ’80s. Now faded, torn and dotted with the ghosts of colorings past, I kept it as the easy-off garment to wear when I color my hair. No one but me ever sees it.
I ripped open the box and got busy. First I slipped on the one-size-does-not-fit-all gloves, and then mixed the potions from the box. Within minutes I had the newest growth in the front covered with the mixture. Then the bedroom door opened.
“Ew! What’s that smell?” Bekah asked. Then she spotted me and got sarcastic. “That’s a good look.”
“Hush,” I told her as I continued to section my hair and squeeze shiny goop on it. “It’s a work in progress. Besides, a closed door means knock. Go close it before….”
“Mom? Can I have a … ugh, what are you doing?” Noah asked as he got an eyeful of mad-haired mama.
“The samba. What does it look like I’m doing?”
“I don’t know but it’s scary. Luke!” he yelled. “You’ve got to see this!”
But Luke flew into the room before I could get to the door.
“Yuck! Why do you do that?” Luke asked with a horrified look on his face.
“Because she’s a faker,” Brian chimed in from behind him.
“I’m enhancing my color!” I frustratingly explained. “It’s no different than you shaving. I’m just altering the natural hair. Out! All of you!”
But it was too late. My magic was revealed like Oz behind the curtain. Just a bunch of tricks to alter the perception of reality. But like Dorothy going from sepia to Technicolor, that change magically altered my perception of myself.
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.