Some of us might be upset by such a thing, a sudden reddening of the hair.
After all, we go to our hairdressers for the usual. Like always, our girl slathers gobs of glop atop our crowns like licorice frosting on a vanilla cupcake.
For the uninitiated among you (the un-vain who don’t color their gray) (oh, and the men) it is normal to sit like a super hero on hold, under fluorescent lights with your cape on backwards waiting for the gooey chemical concoction to make everything old new again.
And the gunk is never the color of the end product. So we don’t worry if we look like we are about to tar a rooftop, right? No! A biological miracle is transpiring under the plastic – add asphalt to white roots and they come out blonde!
I have been through it a billion times. Or so. Easy peasy. Old Carolyn in. Young gray-free Carolyn out.
So I don’t know if some crazy New Year’s bug bit me, but this time my girl and I agreed to “create some contrast.” To add some low-lights for depth and texture – that is hair salon speak for taking a step into the seldom-visited extremely scary realm of a teeny tiny change.
And what I now see in the sunlight is why so few boldly go where hair color is altered.
We are not courageous. No. We color our gray – period. And we live in that established safe zone. Free parking for 50 years at the curb of the very same color we have worn since 7th grade.
We most certainly do not go RED!
So. When my darling girl seated me at the sink and gently massaged my scalp, rinsing the goop away with a pleasant if Stepford-ish smile, I was unconcerned. “I think you’re going to like it,” she said.
I always say that redheads are valued in my family. My mom was a redhead. Both my grandmothers were redheads. (My stepmother is a redhead too…so this may be a story about my dad, but we will get to that another time.)
My parents and grandparents dreamed of a redheaded baby girl to carry the family flame! But alas. Willful from birth, I did not oblige.
Not to be denied, my mom’s feisty mom devised a plan. She offered to keep baby Carolyn overnight so the new parents could have a break from the overdose of darling I no doubt delivered, even in my blondeness.
But when they came to pick me up next morning…what’s this? Redheaded baby Carolyn?!!
That’s right. Grandma Maddux dyed my baby hair red.
I have tried to imagine that morning many times over the years. The looks on their faces. I picture the scene as a cartoon line drawing. Grandma Maddux beaming with pride as she passed me back to my mom. And my parents flabbergasted, tilting back on their heels.
Did Grandma believe my parents would begin covering my blonde roots from that point forward?
And phase two – after the initial disbelief – were they angry? Did they laugh? Cry? They protected me from those details. And baby hair kind of falls away, so no real harm done. I guess.
But it was prophetic. My fate was sealed. From that day forward all things have conspired to bring me to this fiery point in time.
“I didn’t expect it to be so red,” I said to my girl.
“It’s not red,” she said, and we commenced a philosophical discussion in which we had to agree that carrot-top is in the eye of the beholder.
To her my blonde is textured with brown, and therefore in her world, blonde and brown it is.
But I see these “low lights” as bright red lights. Not strawberry blonde. Not auburn. They’re red. And there are a lot of them. Blonde is a shy minority.
And if it looks red to me, it is indeed red.
But here’s the thing: I kind of like it. I can’t claim it’s in my genes, but it is my destiny.
This one’s for you, Grandma! Happy New Year!