When you are a child, it’s a little bit exciting when people mistake you for being older than you actually are. You feel like you are getting a sneak peek into a mysterious and exciting club. You feel special and somehow a little bit more knowledgeable. It’s mostly a glorious feeling.
Not so much when you are in your forties.
When I was sixteen years old my mother found my first white hair while braiding my hair. I remember she screamed and yanked it out. I had dark brown hair and the snow white kind of stood out. I told her to stop it. I couldn’t possibly have grey hair. I barely even had a driver’s license. I insisted that it must be blonde. She took that hair and held it up against a white sheet of paper. It totally disappeared against the white background.
“Cool!” I said
Not so cool. My mother carefully explained to me that she was too young to have a daughter with white hair. I would have to either stop growing them or do something about them. By the time I was in my twenties I decided that I had better start dying my hair. That or go bald from pulling all of the white ones out.
I continued to dye my hair for well over ten years. To be honest, it was a pain.
You see, my hair grows really fast, so I constantly had to redo it, or look like some weird horizontally striped zebra. Also, I am not really into maintenance. I don’t wear makeup, I can’t match my clothes, and I absolutely can’t stand the feeling of fake nails. Finally, a few years ago I decided to go natural.
I noticed young girls were stripping their hair to make it white; I might as well go along with the trend. I went in and had all the dye cut out. I felt all trendy and fabulous. Natural is always the way to go. It’s modern. It’s easy. And, it feels great.
Until someone mistakes you for being elderly.
I thought I was all cool and fabulous looking. Then one day, about a month ago, I walked into the store to buy a bottle of wine. I had Huggy with me. She is ten. You will see why that part is important in a moment. As we were walking in, a young man held the door for us. I smiled because young men only hold the door open for you when you are super cool and fabulous looking. I picked out my wine and got out my I D because you just never know when someone is going to mistake your forty year old self for under twenty one. When it was our turn to pay, I put my bottle of wine on the counter and Huggy put her apple juice on the counter. Then the clerk smiled at Huggy and said “One for you and one for Grandma, eh?”
I was confused. Huggy looked baffled. We had no plans to see either one of her grandmothers in the near future. Then it clicked. This man (who was in his sixties, by the way) thought I was the grandmother. Not only did I look old enough to have grandchildren, I looked old enough to have a ten year old grandchild!
I put on my “You’re lucky I don’t have to tools here to kill you discretely” smile and put my I D away. Then I paid for my wine and Huggy’s juice. I did the math. This guy thought I was pushing sixty. At least! As we left the store I snatched the door out of some poor polite man’s hand shouting “I’m not a grandma!”
He looked very confused.
After going home and drinking that bottle of wine, I started to seriously think about dying my hair again. I just wasn’t ready for my AARP membership yet. I went out and picked out a color. I went for light brown because I thought that might leave less of a sharp contrast with my white roots. I also looked for the box with Cybil Shepard on the front because I remember as a child hearing her say that her hair dye left you hair “radiant and never brassy”. I didn’t know what brassy was but I certainly did want to be radiant.
They don’t put Cybil on hair dye boxes anymore (another sign of the times), so I picked an expensive box and went home and used it, excited for my new radiant twenty something looking self to appear.
After washing that grey right out of my hair and drying it I went to show my kids. The mirrors were pretty fogged up in the bathroom still, so I couldn’t quite see how fabulous I looked.
“Um, Mom?” said Second Son “Why is your hair all orange?”
“It’s not orange,” I informed him “it’s Light Caramel Brown.”
“It’s kind of an orange hombre.” suggested Spitting Image
I went into the non foggy bathroom and looked in the mirror. My hair was indeed orange. The exact color of brass. I was not radiant, I was not radiant at all. I was brassy. Darn it! Where was Cybil Shepard when I needed her? I started to panic a little.
The Pastor soon came home and tried talking me down.
“Maybe it just takes some getting used to.” he said “Lots of women have orange hair!”
No. Lots of women have strawberry blonde hair. My hair was the same color as the package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It looks good in the candy isle, not so much on my head. I decided to try it out for a little while. Orange hair was at least not white hair so I should at least look younger, right?
About a week later I went to an event at a church. I didn’t know too many people, so I brought Huggy with me again and struck up a conversation with a woman who appeared to be about my age.
“Do you have any children?” she asked.
“Yes, five.” I said “I brought my daughter with me.”
“Oh! I think I saw her!” The woman exclaimed “Isn’t that her over there?”
She then pointed to a woman sitting nearby. A thirty-six year old woman with her young son.
I died a little.
Then I left before I thought of not so discrete ways to kill somebody.
Now I am on a serious mission to find Cybil Shepard.