My mom’s about to celebrate a birthday. How old is she? If you ask, she’ll gladly reveal her age.
Married young, she had her children right away, so my mom was always the youngest of all my friends’ mothers. However, she inherited the “prematurely gray” gene prevalent on her mother’s side of the family, and was coloring her hair by her mid-twenties.
Funny, now the young women that age are dyeing their hair “granny gray” to get the same look.
My mother remained patient as I, an indecisive teenager, was shopping in the junior department in Macy’s Herald Square. The way the florescent lights caught the top of her head, my mother’s hair no longer looked dark brown, but a rather unnatural shade of olive green.
“Mom!” I gasped. “Your hair looks really strange.”
She peered into a mirror and blurted out, “EXPLETIVE! It’s oxidized!”
A few weeks later, instead of getting her roots touched up, she began wearing a wide headband to cover the gray. Then she skipped a haircut. There was a method to this madness, I just couldn’t figure out what it was.
When she finally went to the hairdresser, I accompanied her. “Cut off all the dark brown, the red highlights, and that other color that defies a name!” she instructed her hairdresser. “I don’t care how short it is. I’m ready to be gray!” Mind you, she was still only in her forties.
Luckily, it was the new wave 1980’s and short asymmetrical punk hair styles were in vogue. Her new look was chic and dramatic. She looked fabulous. She still does.
The “prematurely gray” gene skipped over me. But as soon as I graduated from a subtle sprinkling of “icicles” to looking as if I’d been house painting and doing a messy job of it, out came the bottle of hair dye. Like any other addiction, it’s become a nasty habit. Lately I’ve been thinking about quitting.
And Happy 77th Birthday!