A couple of weeks ago, I found my first grey hair…… Okay, that was a bold face lie. I found my actual First Grey Hair on May 7th, 2003, upon returning home from a deployment. I figured the stress of being away from my 5-year old daughter, was reason enough. I plucked that mutha, taped it onto an index card, dated it, and filed it away into my “memory box”. Yeah, I won’t be traveling down that memory lane any time soon.
Twelve years later… I start finding them. One of them, one morning before work. Another two, getting ready for date night. Another one…. Wait, I thought I plucked that one yesterday?! What the F-!! I normally wear my long hair, braided first, then wrapped in a tight bun for work, so the gradual greying is much more noticeable on my days off, when my hair is down. For several months, I had one grey hair that was on the very edge of my hairline, which I had accepted as a full time member of my compliment. I didn’t touch this grey hair; I thought it made me look like Rouge from the X-Men. But when all of her little friends started showing up, I decided something had to be done.
I don’t want to get old. Let me rephrase that – I will not get old. I will not be one of those people who lay back and let ailment after ailment (real or made up) take over their body. One of those people whose days are planned around doctor appointments and when to take what pill. I run my ass off and push myself mentally and physically to the limits, on a daily basis. I take on project after project to quiet the anxious thoughts in my head. (Who has time to be anxious when you are planting a garden or tending bees or cutting bottles to make candles or writing or raising chickens?) I will run my first half marathon this year. I might even work up the courage to complete a Tough Mudder with my brother-in-law, like he has been begging my husband and me to do. I have already decided that I will be one of those kickin’ old ladies, riding roller coasters with their grandkids, going on cruises, drinking a beer on the porch with my husband, well past the age when I really shouldn’t be. But…. I’m not ready to look the part. Yet.
I bought a bottle of permanent hair dye. Did I mention that I had a fear of permanency?! Ugh. I think my husband saw this fear, early on in our relationship. But he is good; he used just the right amount of romance, cunning, and charm to snag me into marrying him. He even whisked me away to Jamaica to say our vows on the beach, just the two of us, so I wouldn’t need to be bothered with trying to plan a wedding. It was a wonderfully romantic whirlwind for the first five years. The whole “permanent” thing is just starting to sink in, six years later, that I really am married. Even if I wanted to, it is too late to turn back now… He is my forever. I told you he was good.
All through my high school years, my best friends and I dyed our hair. There were some fun, crazy colors: purple, black with blue tint, fire engine red. The thing was, all we ever used were the wash-out kind of dye that only lasted approximately 18-20 washes. All through my late teens, twenties, and early thirties, I would occasionally dye my hair for a little change. I couldn’t do anything too drastic, being in the military, but a little red tint to my normally dark brunette hair was a nice change every now and then. Perusing the hair dye aisle, however, I would always shudder at the thought of anything permanent, quickly grab the wash-out dye, and hightail it out of there.
The only problem is… wash-outs don’t cover greys. Or if they do, it isn’t for long. So after putting the kids to bed, and pouring myself a nice, big glass of liquid courage, turning around and grabbing the whole, damn bottle as in hindsight, I set off on the unimaginable task of permanently dying my hair.
I meticulously scoured the directions. I even attempted to comprehend the instructions written in Spanish, on the other side. Ever wonder if they say the exact same thing? Paranoid, maybe, but what if the guy who is responsible for the final edit of the instructions, finds out that he is about to get sacked, and decides to alter it slightly, just to get his revenge? Kind of like the graphic designer who worked the penis into the cover of The Little Mermaid. Maybe the dude, in his corrupt mind, decides to change the time one should cover their hair with the dye from 15 minutes, to 25 minutes, thus causing unsuspecting women to start losing clumps of their hair in alarming rates. It could happen.
I take another big gulp of a lovely Old Vine Zinfandel, which calms my mind slightly with its velvety complexity, refill my glass, and slowly pull on the dye’s accompanying plastic gloves. The instructions, for the most part, resemble the ones from a non-permanent box. I inspect the little bottle of coloring, to ensure that it matches the number and name on the box (another opportunity for a disgruntled worker to really F- someone’s life up), and slowly pour the liquid into the cream color developer bottle. The directions read to snip off the tip of the cream color developer bottle… Shit, where are my scissors? Probably in the three year old’s room (Read ‘Cooking with Kids – Banana Bread’). I rummage around in my husband’s trimmer box, find a pair of scissors, and snip off the tip of the bottle. The teeny piece of plastic immediately becomes a projectile, and flies across the room, still to this day, lost.
Next, the directions say to shake vigorously until completely blended. How in the hell can I tell when the two are completely blended?? It is an opaque bottle. I cannot see through white plastic. Is this another one of the disgruntled employee’s sick jokes?! I begin shaking the bottle vigorously, for so long, that my arm begins to tire.
I take another couple gulps of wine, and refill my glass: the moment of truth has come. Will I be able to take the leap of faith and do the unspeakable?! Another sip of wine….
I begin applying the hair dye, starting at my forehead, working back toward the crown of my head, in the suggested ¼ inch sections. This isn’t so bad, I thought. That was definitely the wine thinking. My sober self would have been in a state of panic at this point. I flip my head over and work on the underneath side of my hair, which my Mama so lovingly calls “the kitchen”. (“Cari, honey, you always did have a lot of hair in that kitchen.” Huh? I still don’t get that one…). “The kitchen” covered in dye, giggling, because why was it called the kitchen, I flip back over and start with the rest of my hair. I did say I had long hair, right? Long, might be an understatement; my hair runs halfway down my back. I squeeze the bottle, about ¾ through with my application, and the noise emitted from it is something my kids would have died laughing at. I, however, was not laughing. I can’t surely be out of dye already!? I start banging the tip of the bottle on the bathroom counter, and squeezing, squeezing every last drop of dye out and onto my hair. When I am certain that no amount of banging and squeezing will bring forth any more dye, I admit my defeat, toss the bottle into the trash, and begin working the liquid through to the ends. Satisfied with the “application” portion of my adventure, I wrap my hair into a makeshift bun, on the very top of my head, and take a quick peek in the mirror.
Oh. Shit. It is dark. Already, so very dark. Also, it seems as if I have war paint all over my face and ears. I quickly scrub the dye off my skin, and vow not to look in the mirror until after the allotted time is up. I take another gulp of wine. I set my alarm… Or, at least I thought I set my alarm, in my drunken stupor.
I sit down, right there on the bathroom floor with my glass, and slowly diminishing bottle of wine, and start skimming through one of my beekeeping supplies magazine. Extractors and bee veils must be some pretty interesting shit when you are two sheets to the wind; I lost all track of time.
I happen to glance at my phone: 9:45 p.m. Wait, what?! Didn’t I put the kids to bed around 7:45? Two hours ago? When did I start this whole debacle?! Why didn’t my alarm go off?!
Without even glancing in the mirror (and it is probably a good thing I didn’t), I immediately turn on the shower, grab the accompanying packet of conditioner, strip off my clothes, and hop in. From past experience with non-permanent hair dye, you are supposed to add a little water, work the dye through the hair, and rinse well, until the water runs clear. Unbeknownst to my drunk self, the permanent dye directions said the same exact thing, only with one small detail that I overlooked: ‘Remember to wear your gloves’. Shit. Three days later, my fingernails still bear the telltale sign of my lack in ability to follow these instructions. My only saving grace is my career: I am an aircraft inspector, and can blame that little snafu on brake dust and axle grease.
I rinse my hair clean, sloppily apply the conditioner, and set my drunk, mental clock for the two minutes the conditioner is required to remain in my hair. I am not as patient and at ease during this short amount of time; I feel very jittery and start worrying about the outcome of my hair. I decide to shave my legs to waste time. Bad, bad idea to shave your legs when drunk.
I rinse my hair, finish my other ritualistic shower details, and turn off the water. I take a quick peek in the mirror. It looks dark, but my hair is wet. I don’t want to turn on the hair dryer and wake every up in the house, so I decide to just go to bed, and deal with it tomorrow, when I can actually see straight, and I can dry my hair.
There is no climatic ending to my story. My hair looks like it normally does, minus my Rouge grey hair, and her little friends. I guess I was able to choose a permanent dye that was so very close to my own hair color that not even my husband or kids noticed. Hell, aside for the black splatters of dye all over the bathroom and shower, a dark brown head imprint on my pillow, the smears of dye all over the clothes I was wearing the night before, the blackness under my fingernails, and the crumpled up, dye covered instructions and gloves, I might have thought it was all something I had invented in my mind, during a drunken stupor.