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02/28/01: Hair today

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I'm sitting here, my hair all gooey because I finally got enough energy to do the coloring it has needed for weeks. When I can't wear my hair anything but barretted back, it's way past overdue for color.

I don't lie about coloring my hair - I never have. When people compliment me on the color, I smile and say thank you, and if they ask if it's my natural color, I reply "as close as I could get". I'm not going to volunteer the information, mind you, but if someone comes right out and asks, what's the point in lying? I'm not ashamed of it. I'm a Miss Clairol girl. In a way, it's kind of fun.

I color to cover the gray. It's the only reason I would go through this hassle on a regular basis. For years during college I had this yen to go red. I tried semi-permanents but they never stuck. I tried permanent color but it, too, didn't stay. I even got my hair professionally colored, and she did it while perming to try to get the color to stay. My hair was gloriously auburn for a few short weeks, and then it all faded, leaving me with my permed and extra-dry coif. I gave up on it after a while, figuring that my hair just wanted to be difficult. After all, it wasn't much after that that my hair decided it didn't like perms anymore either and those started to wash away. When your hair won't hold a permanent color or a permanent curl, that's a sure time to accept defeat.

Flash forward to a few years ago, when I began to realize that those 'few strands of gray' were becoming a lot more than just a few. My whole family grays early - I can't help my genes, and as much as I respect my mom for deciding to go with the gray, I am just not ready to be silver-headed at my age. Darn it all, I don't look my age - no reason why my own hair should betray me.

So the white hair on my head drove me to the supermarket where I stood in front of a boggling array of boxes, holding them up to a lock of my own hair to match the color. I had learned my lesson about trying to be something I wasn't - all I was aiming for was to just get back to the pre-gray me.

So it's been a bit ironic that when I wasn't trying, is when I finally get the red. Oh, it's not as much as I'd wanted in those younger years, but there's a gold tint to it when the light hits and hey, you know what, I like it better this way anyway. And except for that bare hint of red highlighting, I really did manage to get it pretty darn close to natural. If it weren't for this pesky grey, you'd have to look really hard to figure out my roots might not be quite the same as the rest of my head.

I've had a love-hate relationship with my hair most of my life. It's poker straight, and to make it even worse, it nearly always refuses to hold a curl. I've always envied the girls who had long lush hair with just the right amount of wave - hair that could be left uncombed for days, attacked with a wind tunnel, and steeped in all manner of chemicals and still look absolutely stunning. Oh, they tend to complain about how heavy their hair is, but I have no pity. None whatsoever. Walk a mile in my tresses and trust me, sweetie, you'll be clinging to your perfect hair the instant you get it back.

In high school I started perming, if only to try to add some body and life to my limp locks. Since I was also involved in synchronized swimming, the combination of the chlorine and the perm solution tended to give me blond streaks that looked as if I'd been given a highlighting job by a color-blind stylist. It also had the lovely side effect of sucking all the remaining moisture out of hair that was already dry to begin with. When I stopped swimming, and eventually gave up on perms, it still took years for my poor hair to finally recover.

It took me thirty years of perming, cutting, and dying before I started to like my hair. Oh, if someone with the perfect hair I've always envied were to offer to trade, I'd still do it in a heartbeat. But I've grown used to my locks now. We have an understanding - my hair and I, and so far that seems to work well for both of us.

Of course, if we go by history, it's only a matter of time before the gray in my hair refuses to be washed away, but for now, I'll take what I can get. Who knows - maybe by then the bald look will be in.

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