I thought about writing a thoughtful post this week about the situation in Iran. And then I remembered I don’t know a damn thing about Iran, other than it’s the namesake of a song by A Flock of Seagulls, so instead, I’m going to talk about my hair.
After having been a bottle redhead for 5 years or so, I decided to quit dyeing my hair red sometime in 2007. I was driven by a strong desire to just be me, whatever that was. I figured I had better things to do with the hour I spent every 4 weeks putting chemicals on my head.
Eventually my hair grew long enough for me to chop off the dyed part in September of that year. It was really short, and after I got one (botched) trim in November 2007, I decided to let it grow. Men grow beards and mustaches and shave as the spirit moves them; it’s kind of a hobby, from what I’ve observed. Similarly, women cut and grow their hair, and so it has been ever since the world began.
I decided it would be cool to have long white hair some day, and really rock the crone look when I hit 50, a la Emmylou Harris. Scott likes my hair long; evidently, he never cared for it short, but didn’t tell me until I’d decided to grow it long again. [Note to men: If you wisely decide to withhold sharing your negative opinion of your lady’s current hairdo, do not, once she’s changed the offending hairdo, tell her how much you disliked the old one. Just tell her she looks pretty, and leave it at that. Otherwise, you will pay for your tacit critique after the fact. Oh yes, you will.] It has been a little shocking how gray my hair has gotten, though given events of recent years, it probably shouldn’t have been. But I’ve grown used to it, and I like it just fine.
I recently decided to go get a trim because the ends were getting ratty after a year and a half’s separation between them and a scissor. I chose to go to the salon attached to Scott’s gym because they’re closest to my house. I’m all about convenience.
So I sit in the stylist’s chair, and she asks me what we’re doing. I tell her and show her a couple pictures of the hairstyle I’m shooting for in the long run. I barely get the words out when she interjects, “I’d LOVE to do some color with your hair!”
This is Stylistese for “Jesus, whatever do you mean, leaving your house with this much gray in your hair??? What kind of Commie are you?”
I explain to her that I did dye my hair for a long time, and I was done with that now, and was fine with my grays, as I’d earned every last one of ’em. “We could just do highlights…hide the gray a bit…” I repeated that I didn’t want highlights, didn’t want to keep them up, and was fine with my gray. “I like my ‘extreme highlights.’ I just want a good haircut.” She tsked, and then said, “Well, I’ll ask you again next time; maybe you’ll change your mind.”
So she passes me on to the hair-washing girl, and apparently they had a secret code that I missed, but which translated to “Would you work on her, PLEASE?!” Because even before my head was in the sink, she started in, too.
“So, cut and color today?”
“No, just a haircut.”
“It could be fun to do some color.”
“I was a redhead for years, and it was fun, but I’m done. I don’t want to keep it up.” This is Clientese for “Drop it, already, before I drop you.”
“Well, you wouldn’t have to do a full dye job; you could do some lowlights—darker to contrast with the gray.”
“Isn’t that what I have right now???”
She had no answer to that, and instead responded by roughly washing my hair; I guess I offended her by having my own stubborn opinion about the hair on MY head.
She brings me back to my stylist, who starts cutting, and comments again as she works that I should consider coloring my hair. I comment again that I’m not going down that road again, and that, eventually, every woman has to decide when she’s going to quit, because, eventually, every woman (if she’s lucky) will be old enough that no one is fooled by her dyed hair color. I’d gotten to that decisive point for myself, and I was going to slide inexorably into old age with a minimum of both muss and fuss.
The lady next to me, a bit older than I, was getting her hair dyed, and I then wondered if she’d heard me over the roar of hair dryers. But I don’t judge; people can dye their hair or not as they wish. It’s not a political stance for me. I just choose “not,” now, and I really didn’t expect to contend with the beauty police challenging my follicular sovereignty. I had no idea how much hairstylists I’ve never met before had invested in what I consider a personal decision to leave my hair be. Too much, methinks.
“Everybody likes a little color,” my stylist says, completely ignoring my speech on aging with dignity. She will not let it go.
And now I am officially annoyed. Besides, I have a little color: it’s mostly brown with some gray throughout. Those are colors, right? I say nothing, but she goes right on ahead.
“Well, I will nag you about it every time you come in,” she says, quasi-jokingly, but I know she means it.
“Well, you will find me quite stubborn on the subject.” And disinclined to make another appointment with a stylist who feels called to nag me to comply with her beauty standards instead of my own. I think I’m plenty cute, gray hair and all.
So she quits snipping, and starts to work giving me the full movie star blow-out. She calls her friend over, and I have 2 women simultaneously blowing and brushing out my hair to siren sleekness. Over the dryers, I hear her comment, “Your hair is so soft.” I respond that I don’t beat it up too much. “That’s good.”
A few minutes later, she says, “Unbelievable, how healthy your hair is.”
“Probably because I don’t dye it,” I said, with a wink.