Last week I decided it was finally time to color my hair. It had been months that the tufts of gray on my temples were bothering me. With the baby, I was always putting my hair up in a ponytail and the clown-like, white bunches weren’t funny anymore (no, they never really were).
Most people said they didn’t notice the gray – until I pointed it out, to which, they’d reply “Oh, huh. How about that? Well, it’s not so bad.” Or else they’d tell me how they’ve been dying their hair since they were 19.
I have never dyed my hair, unless you count the time I used Sun-in for the summer I went to the south of France. I was 15 years old and on my own for the first time. This was me being rebellious. I also ordered wine from restaurants since there was no drinking limit there. I guess that was even more defiant. The Sun-in turned my hair bright orange. It was not attractive, but for a girl who sported almost black hair for her whole life, the crayola-colored hued was kind of exciting.
By the time the orange finally grew out of my black, curly hair, I was graduating from high school – and since then, it’s become very prudish hair – sporting the same style and color for most of its life. But now the time had come to wash that gray right out of my hair.
I bought some natural hair dye and picked a dark auburn hair color. I figured it was as adventurous as I should get with my almost black hair. I picked a green box so it would help me psychologically pretend that this wasn’t going to make my hair fall out. I made sure to pick a box that said, “No ammonia” and that it would wash out in 28 rinses. It also said it only took ten minutes.
I missed up the concoction and noticed that the goop looked rather purple. I suddenly visualized the older women who try to color their hair themselves and end up sporting a plum-colored coif for a month (the see-through kind). I followed the instructions and applied the glop all over my head with the rubber gloves and piled the purple-saturated black soapy hair on top of my scalp. It didn’t burn so that was a good sign. (Chris Rock’s Good Hair movie scarred me for life even though it was about black hair.)
I walked into the living room with the wet hair mess and the first thing my 8-year-old says is, “I guess you’ll be blogging about this.” (You see, he had also gotten accustomed to me blogging each night.)
“Maybe,” I told him as I shrugged and walked away, already thinking, “Duh, of course I’m going to blog this.” But to him, I say, “I’m not blogging every day anymore. It was just a one-month commitment.”
He then says, “So blog about how you won’t be blogging anymore.”
“That’s silly,” I tell him and silently gasp and shake my head at myself. Yeah, I do that. I blog about blogging and not blogging and blogging again … and here the 8-year-old was saying the hair dying was at least a story about something, rather than nothing.
We rallied back and forth, the 8-year-old and I. He generally has better come backs than I do; he already seems to use his male-dominated logic against my female-skewed emotion.
I washed the dye out of my hair after 15 minutes; I gave it 5 extra minutes for good luck – and because my mom told me the day before that she keeps it in for a whole hour. “We have very dark, thick hair,” she reminded me.
It took probably close to half an hour to get the water to rinse clean. That’s when they said to put conditioner on and leave that on for two minutes. The water in the bathtub was purple even after the conditioner rinse but I couldn’t wait any longer; I was bored from being in there for so long.
Finally I emerged with wet sopping hair to see not much of a change; maybe a tinge of … purple in the light? What happened to the lovely auburn they promised on the box? I knew I shouldn’t have trusted the model’s hair color.
I blow-dryed my hair, determined to see the real color. I came out of the bathroom with big, frizzy, newly-colored hair … and I asked the boyfriend how it looked. “Well, it kind of has a shade of purple,” he says.
“What about the grays?” I ask, remembering the real goal of the exercise.
“Well, they kind of look copper. The ones that don’t still look gray, that is.”
“What?” All that and the gray didn’t even take?”
“I told you it would be better if I just colored them in with Sharpie,” the boyfriend answers touting the almighty male logic.
“That’s ridiculous,” I answer as I really wonder if that wouldn’t have made more sense.
“Why don’t we just cut them out close to the root,” he retaliates?
I think about this suggestion, wondering if it truly is a bad one; it seems to make sense. Who needs the half-broken silvery strands that wisp about above my ears?
I think about my friends who dutifully color and highlight their hair according to the calendar and I think to myself, “Please not me; I don’t want to enter the hair coloring world. There’s no way out!”
I’ve walked around with the purple-tinged, copper-wisped sides, hair for a week now. It doesn’t bother me – it makes me feel a bit funky; an ode to crazier days in the east village, maybe. (Of course I never dyed my hair THEN.) I have a haircut appointment scheduled for March 23rd, when the hairdresser finally comes back from his two-month vacation to Hong Kong. I am going to do something different, I promise you. This purple hair is just a sign of things to come – my hair is ready to join the fast track to some adventure beyond “long bangs.” Perhaps layers will rear their ugly faces …