Last Friday morning I made the third-biggest mistake of my adult life (I’ll tell you about the first two later) when I asked my hairdresser to dye my hair brown. Okay, I didn’t exactly request “brown,” but I did ask her to take my hair a few shades darker for the fall. See, I’ve been a
fake, trashy dumb blonde for decades now, and as I ’round the middle-aged bend, I’m thinking that 1) people may be starting to suspect that my bright and bouncy hair color is not, in fact, my bright and bouncy hair color, and 2) it’s getting holy-cow expensive to keep covering these roots. So last week, in a flash of uncharacteristic bravery, I asked my stylist–who is beautiful, hip, and artsy–to make my hair the same color as, well, hers. She works this kind of light-and-dark streaky thing through a tangle of loose curls, and it’s fab-u-loso. Granted, she works it atop a willowy, stylishly dressed figure and boho-chic persona, but I figured, hey–if I can’t have any of those things, I can at least have her hair color. There has to be something left in this world that money can buy.
If a middle-aged mom trying to copy her younger and cuter hairstylist sounds pathetic to you, rest assured, my friends: it was. And it is. ‘Cause see now, instead of short and “sassy” blond hair, I have short and demure brown hair. A mere ninety minutes in the salon chair took me from Marilyn to Meryl. (As in Julie & Julia, not Mama Mia. Although if this midlife crisis keeps up, singing through my pain is probably next.)
My stylist tried to warn me. She is a master at her craft, and has told me, repeatedly, that I need to go blond and stay blond. (She says it’s because of my skin tone, but I think she’s just softening the fact that blond is a close cousin to my ever-increasing gray.) She has also told me, repeatedly, that if my hair is short, it really should be blond. But last Friday morning I dismissed years of professional counsel and asked her to make me look, well, more like her. She dutifully agreed, but told me that if I wanted her hair color, I’d have to first go dark, then get lighter with the next appointment, as this would give me that two-toned look that I so admired on her (and thus, I thought silently, make me look like more like her! I could scarcely keep from rubbing my hands together.) She warned me that I may not like the brown that I had to start with, but I ignored all that and simply commanded her to “dye!”
And dye she did. And wrong I was. Because now I do not look like a willowy, artsy, boho-chic hipster. Now, I look just like me–but with brown hair. The one feature I retained (okay, maintained) from my youth, the one psuedo-beauty I boasted–I’m a blonde!–has now been flushed down the Drain of Age with everything else I’ll never recover from my best years, like plans on a Friday night or a non-farmer tan, even in the summer.
If I was a little unsure of Being Brunette at first, the real downward spiral came when I saw my big brother the next day. I walked through my mom’s front door and he glanced up from his perch on the couch.
“Your hair looks dirty.”
I quickly informed him that my hair was, in fact, clean; I had just dyed it a darker color.
“Because I’m going darker for fall. But I’m going to lighten it up next time.”
“Why would you dye it dark, just to lighten it again? That doesn’t even make sense.”
“Yes it does.”
“Because it does.”
“And are you going to pay to get it light, after you’ve already paid to get it dark?”
My mom chimed in from an adjacent loveseat: “If you don’t like the color, Jen, all you have to do is get a really bad cut, something short and wispy and weird. Like this–” She grabbed her own hair and pulled it violently away from her scalp to illustrate. “Then no one will notice the color.” She was perfectly serious. I just stood mutely in the middle of the living room, taking this hail of abuse from a seated Judge and Jury whose opinion, by the way, was never once requested.
I texted my stylist that night, begging her to undo this latest disaster in a growing pile of “anti-aging” disasters I am accumulating. She generously accepted my plea and penciled me in for Thursday at noon. Later, I texted my brother and told him not to worry, that I would soon be cleaning up my “dirty” hair.
“Happy, dear?” I goaded, expecting an apology. He wrote back:
Apparently I had sat on the Brown too long for my bro. But the joke’s on him, because on Thursday at 1:30–after two separate dye jobs and two separate credit card payments–I’m gonna emerge from that salon with what will likely be the exact same color with which I entered it last Friday afternoon. Who’s lookin’ good now?[/sociallocker]