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Returning to my roots

June 11, 2010





I have been highlighting my hair for twenty years.  Just being able to say that makes me feel old, which is only fair.  I am old.  Not as old as I’m going to be, I hope, but old nonetheless.


Recently I’ve been telling myself (and anyone who asks; there aren’t many) that I would stop dyeing my hair when I turned sixty. By that reckoning, I had two good years of blonditude left and just try and pry that tube of goo out of my cold, dead hand. . . or, to be more precise, from the hand of my fabulous colorist, Jeanette Brown of Jazz Salon, who has been high priestess to my goddess head for the past two decades and whom, were I to have had to leave town permanently for any reason, I would have had to abduct.  (Sorry, Jeanette’s kids and other clients, but you would have had to suck it up!)


Then something untoward happened.  Or maybe it was toward.


During our recent trip to Hawaii, my magnificent stepdaughter Shanah took us on a tour of the North Shore of Oahu in her Rav 4. The top was down and my locks were a veritable riot of gold and burnished ash – with ‘riot’ being the operative phrase; think Medusa in a car wash.  And someone whom I will not identify because usually he is much nicer to me twisted around in his seat, eyed me and announced, “You look just like Robert Plant!”   Whereupon he snapped a photo of me.


Now I don’t have to tell you that that is not what a girl wants to hear.  Even less not something a girl wants to see photographic evidence for.  Yet, there it was – irrefutable.  I did, indeed, look like Robert Plant and, believe me, that was not what I had had in mind.

So, when I got back to the mainland, I marched into Jeanette’s salon and announced that I wanted to go back to my roots.  Specifically I wanted her to match my roots and let the grey grow where it may.  (It’s there, I know, lurking behind the brown.  It’s my eyebrows that tipped me off; left to their own devices, they look like something ferocious and wily belonging to a badger.)


A day later I panicked and called Jeanette, pleading with her to return me to my unnatural state.  She put me on her cancellations list and booked me in her first available slot, ten days hence.  A day later I called and cancelled the appointment.    I had realized that it was not the hair that was the problem; it was the face.


Before a dozen friends call me and launch into the Consolation of Inner Beauty Thing, it’s OK.  Really.   Profoundly myopic, I wore glasses from the age of seven.  Needless to say I got contacts the instant I could – at age fourteen -- and I kid you not when I say that I would have put rocks in my eyes if it meant I didn’t have to wear glasses.  And most of the time that was how it felt – like I had rocks in my eyes.


Then, at around age forty five, my eyes started rejecting contacts until eventually I was forced to give them up entirely.  My vanity washed up on the shore of age, I mourned my loss . . . until I found that it was much easier to swim if I didn’t have to worry about damn stupid contacts and I wasn’t forever getting dust or sand in them and having to do the Cyclops Dance of Agony in a desperate bid pry them out of the offending eye, nor did I any longer find myself crawling around the floor with a flashlight trying to find a rogue lense in high shag carpet.. Yes, there was a down side to no contacts – not so pretty anymore – but there was also an upside – less boring hassle and excruciating pain.


And so it will be with my hair.  In any case, chances are that people won’t look.  And, if they do, at least I won’t look like Robert Plant. Instead, I will look like Shirley Temple . . .  when she grew up and became Ambassador to the U.N.  And wasn't that what I have always wanted anyway -- to grow up to be Shirley Temple?



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