It started before I hit 25. Barely noticeable, but definitely there. And I was a sap about it. Easily wooed, and didn’t realize 40 years later, I would still be unable to change my ways. A habit? An addiction? A sick obsession? How could I let this happen? Year after year, decade after decade? I’m a weakling. So easily swayed. I’m embarrassed by my lack of determination. I suck.
|One of my first attempts at changing my boring hair color. Little did I realize how soon boring brown would become gag-worthy-gray, 1967…|
At first I tried cheap imitation cover-ups. Sheesh. So lame. I thought I could break this silly habit anytime I wanted. Criminy, I had the gumption to stop smoking in 1990. Surely this couldn’t be as hard. But it has proven to me over and over that it’s nigh on to impossible for this nilly-willy loser. How difficult could this be? I guess I lack intestinal fortitude.
|Me sporting a lot of gray at age 26 at Joshua’s 1st birthday, 1976…|
I was about 26 when it really became noticeable. Shannon was in first grade. Joshua was a year old. I thought I looked pretty good. Finally lost all the baby weight for the second time. But something was different. Looking much older than I should. I was still smoking which didn’t help, and laying out in the sun any time it was between 55 and 70 degrees. I didn’t care if it was December. If it was sunny and over 55, but not hot enough to where I’d actually sweat, I was getting a tan. Yeah, my body. Not so much of a temple back then.
|The only thing brown is my skin. Hair is really gray at age 33…|
Seemed like overnight I noticed some gray hair. Actually a lot of gray hair. More than a fair amount on anyone under 30. What to do, what to do? They probably have some fancy name for this procedure these days, but back in the mid-70’s, it was called ‘frosting.’ A dye kit you bought at the store. It came with a rain cap thingy. You put the rain cap on your head, then placed your entire trust in a very good friend. My friend for the job was Jeanene. The rain cap had tiny holes all over it. Wasn’t flawed, it was supposed to have holes. Small holes. It was up to Jeanene to take the razor sharp edge of the accompanying crochet hook and poke my head through some or all of the holes. Give my hair a good twist and pull it through those itty-bitty openings. When Jeanene decided she had just the right amount of my hair painfully yanked through seemingly hundreds of these little hell-holes, the real fun began. She was gonna dye all those little tufts of hair. Yellow. Buttercup yellow. The logic behind this madness is that all my gray hair would no longer be noticeable because it was carefully, seamlessly swirled with my own medium, mundane, cruddy brown hair. Truthfully, Jeanene strayed off the reservation by a few thousand strands when pulling my hair through. Too much. Way too much. Must have been about 75% of my hair sticking through those holes.
|Yup, just a little bit overboard with the lemon yellow. With the bed and on my hair, 1976…|
Got to give a shout out to Hubs on this one. He never laughed, commented, or refused to walk beside me in the ensuing months. But it was my observant daughter Shannon who pulled no punches on my botched frosted hair job. She never said anything. Heck, she might have thought mommy looked nice. It was close to Mother’s Day and her class was given an assignment to draw a picture of mommy on their own homemade Mother’s Day card. Which she did with the precision of a brain surgeon. I guess there was no mud-puddle shade of brown in her box of crayons. Maybe because the school year was almost over. Whatever the reason, Shannon chose the darkest shade of black for my hair on my picture that year. She got the taxicab yellow spot on. I would sincerely give a hundred dollars to find that card with my picture on it. We have searched high and low, but I think it might have self-destructed after a few years. I’ll give my best description so you can visualize exactly what I looked like. Since Shannon was only 6, I sort of looked like a stick mom. But the hair said it all. Bangs, and 2 perfect (I do mean perfect) sides to my hair. The best checkerboard ever drawn. Black and bright canary yellow in perfect alternating squares. Just freaking awesome. Wish my hair had really looked that good. Sigh.
|Hideous, but both kids still loved their mommy, 1976…|
Since I’ve always worn my hair rather short, it really didn’t take many months before the botched frosted look was gone. But my gray hair was back with a vengeance. I blamed Adam for years. He hadn’t exactly been planned. Kind of a hard pregnancy and he was breech to boot. I had a tough time getting him here safely. I think we both were mighty close to not making it, period. And I didn’t bounce back in 6 weeks. Or 6 months. We’re forever grateful we both came through it ok. But it took a toll.
By the time I was 31 my hair was about 50-50, gray and brown. So I started having a rinse applied about every 6 weeks. It was expensive, at least to me. I think it was 11 dollars a pop. Yikes. The rinse looked great though. Covered the gray but kept my own natural blah brown. But my gray hair seemed to have a mind of its own. Strong willed. The more gray I got, the coarser my hair became. It was like a horsetail. After a couple years, my 6 week rinse lasted about a week. All my gray hair would be back, poking up every which way again. My hairdresser finally suggested I either let nature takes its course, or start using permanent hair color dye. And so it began. I decided to ditch the beauty shop and learn how to do this snow job myself every few weeks. An older gal named Jenny who I bowled with at the time suggested a medium brown in L’Oréal (as Cybil Shepherd convinced me, I was, after all, worth it). One would think with this much practice, I would become somewhat of an expert in my monthly ritual of hair dyeing. Over the years though, I can’t count how many times I’ve been in Dorothy’s chair getting my hair cut when she’d start cracking up. “Hey, you missed a spot back here about the size of Delaware!” She was my hairdresser for over 20 years and always a smart ass. Sill miss her since I’ve moved. Haven’t had a good cut either. Or a great reaction to my last dyeing attempt.
|Pretty much salt and pepper by my early 30’s. with Mary Jane and Jeannie Lawrence at Mag’s in the mid-70’s…|
That friends, was 30 years ago. I’ve experienced so many milestones since then. I thought, when I hit 40, I’m done dyeing my hair. Nope. OK, when I turn 45. Nada. Same came and went when I turned 50, 60 and the biggie last year, 65. Surely I’ll have a hankering to finally go gray. But I’m not ready. I wanna be ready, but I’m not. I admire gals who have beautiful gray hair. I want to emulate them. But I cannot. Not yet. Done blaming Adam. Now I blame me, the quantities buyer. I hardly ever run out of anything. If I feel like baking 40 dozen cookies, or a dozen pies on any given day, I can be semi-sure I have all the necessary ingredients to get the job done without a trip to the grocery store. I do likewise with toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, eggs. Doesn’t matter, I just don’t run out of stuff. I was the same way when I smoked. I always bought smokes by the carton and would get twitchy when I was down to a couple of packs. Would if we lost power and I couldn’t get the garage door up? In 20 plus years of smoking, I don’t believe I ever ran out of Tareyton’s. John on the other hand, ran out daily. And then would try to mooch some of my smokes to get through the evening. Which he hated but was too lazy to go out or quantity buy like me. Loser.
|Even worse. Quickly growing gray and my first and only adult perm accentuated the gray, 1978…|
Over the years of at-home-dye-jobs, I’ve lightened up considerably. Experts say as you age, if you color your hair, you need ‘go lighter.’ Darker shades make you look harsh. Since I’m so up to date on this stuff, every decade or so I’ve gone a shade lighter. Thus I have enough #7 Dark Blonde L’Oréal to keep my gray away through 2017. Why can’t I just make up my mind, bite the bullet and let my hair grow out naturally? How many 65 year old women still have brown hair without help from a bottle? Part of me says it’s simply change. I don’t do well with change. I start hyperventilating just thinking about noticeably gray hair growing out on the crown of my head.
|Yikes! Blond can be harsh too. With Josh in 1993…|
I’m a lot of things. A sarcastic, selfish loner. But I’ve never really thought of myself as particularly vain. I don’t like to dress up or wear much makeup. Pretty sure I look my age and try to act accordingly. Most of the time. (Although I did just buy a pair of denim capris WITH A HOLE ALREADY IN THEM! For shame, I know I’m too old for that shit. But they are cute, fit nice and were on clearance for 5 bucks). I’ll probably only wear them around the house and if anyone should see me in them next summer will assume I got the hole the old fashioned way. Through years of wear and tear). So the problem remains. When will I ever be ready to stop this vicious cycle and let my hair grow out the way God intended?
|I’ve been given the bird hundreds of times. This is a good one and the hair shade I’m still using, 2013…|
I used to visit a gal who’s husband was declining. When she was young her hair had been jet black, and she just never changed the color. In her early 80’s, she was advised to let her hair grow out. She did. And looked simply stunning when she walked into church. But while she was in the growing out process, she was almost a recluse. Rarely went out and never without a hat. She did let me in the house to visit, but I don’t think very many people saw her those few winter months as her hair grew out. Hate to say, I can kind of see me doing that. When I decide it’s the right time to flaunt my 50 shades of gray…
|Wow, she’s about the age when I started this madness!!|