Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Lighter Shade of Pale

While scrutinizing some important merchandise in the aisles of a very popular discount store a few years ago, I overheard one woman whisper to another ”Do you think she dies?” Startled, I snapped my head around and, after quickly and inadvertently meeting the green eyes of the speaker, and then noting her red-haired female companion, I abruptly looked away. They sure didn’t look upset, I thought as I bent my head down to peer more closely at the box I had been reading. “Oh I really can’t say for sure. But just to be absolutely certain I think we’d better look again” I heard her companion whisper back. Oddly transfixed, I stood where I was.

"What were they talking about?" I wondered as I turned the box over in my hands and blearily stared at the writing on the back. For some unknown and peculiar reason I found myself curious with their conversation. It was certainly more interesting than trying to decipher the index of ingredients listed on the box I was holding. Were they mulling over the latest episode of “Desperate Housewives,” I pondered as the smiling woman on the front of the box brightly looked up at me. If so, I felt an affirmative response bubbling to my lips but I quickly bit it back, chagrined at my own cheeky eavesdropping. The green-eyed woman moved behind me and then stopped at the end of the aisle. Without turning around she quietly sniffed.

“Oh, I definitely think she does die” she murmured ominously. Her companion sidled up next to her effectively blocking the entrance and exit of the aisle. “I think you very well may be right," the redhead replied quietly. Sneaking a furtive peek at them both I noticed that they were watching a very blonde woman who was perusing the greeting cards.

Worried now, I observed the card woman myself for any signs of trouble. “What’s going on here - Am I in an episode of “Desperate Housewives?” I fretted as the box trembled in my hands. I certainly didn’t know the two women in my aisle and for all I knew they were plotting something nefarious just like one of the characters on the show had been a few nights before.

Just as I was about to blurt out a warning to the very blonde lady, she moved to leave the profusion of cards she had been looking at. My two aisle companions quickly turned their backs and huddled together. “Oh yes, yes, yes she definitely does die – no one naturally has that color of hair” I heard the two wicked women chortle as I dropped the box of Clairol I had been holding and fell on my knees to the floor.

Okay – so that really didn’t actually happen but I have been the recipient of inadvertently overhearing conversations regarding the shade of someone’s hair. The truth is, even my own hair has been a few unnatural shades of the hair-color rainbow. I have had my hair, somewhat embarrassingly, almost a platinum blonde, an orange-red, a dark, rich mahogany color (quite a shock, I might add, immediately on the heels of the blonde) and even a pale color that resembled the young green branch of an ash tree. Colors I certainly would not have chosen on purpose as my wild streak never actually made it all the way up to my scalp. While some daring souls aren't afraid to shout out their own forays into "counter-culturalsim," mine have been more akin to trips to the corner convenience store. Or, perhaps, I have a covert wild streak.

No matter, as it is my own opinion from years of experience that it is incredibly difficult to get any “natural” shade from a box of store-bought hair dye.

For all of you budget-conscience color consumers who know what I mean, it sure would be nice not to have to worry about all of that. I mean really, it sometimes takes hours of being yanked at, poked at and being placed under double clipped caps in desperate attempts to obtain those “natural” hair colors. That’s if you can find a friend good enough and willing enough to give up a perfectly good block of their time to fiddle with your hair. And if I could, I certainly would forego sitting for too many timed minutes at my kitchen table with the smell of malodorous concoctions wafting down and making my eyes water and hoping that no one, absolutely no one, rings the doorbell. Yikes! When they say “Process” on the box – they aren’t kidding!

But for many of the box-buyers, the alternative is – shall I say it? Grey? Never! Ever! Ever? (dot dot dot).

Be that as it may, I envy both the younger and the older generations in ways. There are the pastel-hairs, with blue, lavender and rose on one side, and the florescent-hairs, with hot pink, midnight blue and blazing green on the other. Each seems so – er – at home in their colors. And none of which are “natural” hair colors at all.

So, since I must admit that I am a tad older than the younger generation these days, I know my hair will never take on any shade of truly vibrant color. At least not on purpose anyway.

But to join the ranks of the blue, lavender or rose-hairs that drive the Buicks and Cadillacs and Lincolns of the world would mean that I have hoisted the white (or grey) flag of surrender, right? Right?

Astonishingly,that day actually came a few years ago when, after the gentle prodding of my older sister, and the somewhat more persistent pushing of my husband who had taken up the "colorist" banner and whose passion (if there had been any) for the perfect color had waned considerably, took a leap of faith and let the boxes of “Candleglow”, “Crème Brulee” and Caramel Kiss” moulder in my linen closet. I had finally decided that they really weren't to dye for anymore, and I wished to embrace the "real" me.

And I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the result, after awaiting months with nail-biting trepidation for all the colors to meld together. In fact, I have been very fortunate to have a light gold-platinum as my locks and have actually received compliments (yes! On grey hair no less!) as to the color from perfect strangers and family alike.

As for those few who ask me, in all earnestness, "Is that your real hair color?" I can now proudly say, "why yes, it is!"

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