Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Silverlocks and the 3 (well more than that) Hairs (by Gayle)

I recently read that the single most important invention responsible for us looking younger longer is hair color. With all the other advances (Botox, nips, tucks, lifts, potions, lotions, and peels) in “anti-aging”, I was surprised by this statement. Hair color has been around forever. Then I pondered its impact in my own life.

My mother - Goldie Luster (not her nickname) had silver locks by the time I was born 2 months and 3 days after her 40th birthday. It was 1957. Not an era in which women were typically choosing to wait until midlife to give birth to children. In fact, my mother hadn’t waited. She had given birth 16 years earlier to a son who survived for 3 fleeting days. My parents continued to want a child in the years to come, but evidently I wasn’t ready to be here yet. They were preparing to start the adoption process when I came bounding into their lives.

When I was 5, dad commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of my mother and me. At 45, her silver locks shone like a precious metal highly polished. My father adored her hair color. I know he loved me, but I think the painting was really meant to capture the beauty of her hair for all time.

By the time I was 6, the kids at school thought my mother was my grandmother. They didn’t understand the beauty of her silver locks. Neither did I. I was embarrassed by the color of her hair. I begged her to get her hair dyed. My dad did not consent. It was my mother’s head, but in those days dad was THE head of our house. No hair was changing color unless he agreed.

It wasn’t until I was 8 that my wish finally came true. My little 3 year old cousin Jody was able to reach my mom where I had failed. Jody’s favorite book was full of illustrated nursery rhymes. Jody seemed obsessed with The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. She was constantly saying “there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn’t know what to do” in our presence. She dragged the book toward my mom. Mom thought Jody was bringing the book to her to read out loud. But when Jody got next to mom she opened the book and pointed to the old woman who lived in the shoe . Obviously the old woman didn’t have a flat iron, styling products, or much time to tend to her silver locks – her hair was standing on end looking frazzled.

Sweet little Jody looked at my mom and pointed to the picture. My mom got it – we didn’t - yet. Thankfully my mother’s sense of humor was much better developed that her sense of vanity. Mom started laughing and asked Jody if she (my mom) looked liked the old woman who lived in the shoe. Jody nodded innocently. That was the day my mother became THE head of her own head. Within weeks Silverlocks was gone never to be seen again.

More than 40 years later, no one had to read a nursery rhyme to prompt me get my hair colored. The first time the gray started persistently peeking at me, I sought help! Now every six weeks you’ll find Ron and faithfully tending to the ritual of highlighting and coloring gray at the salon. We visit our stylist on the same day and share an appointment so to speak. I arrive 30 minutes before him to get highlighting foils and color applied. While I’m “baking”, our stylist put highlighting foils in Ron’s hair. Yes Ron gets highlights. After too much “Sun-In” one summer, he decided to get professional help (remember, I told you we get outside assistance when we need it!) To read more about his hair coloring history click here.

For years in this May-December relationship our age difference was not much of a visual issue. People could tell he was ambiguously older than me, but no one was calling CPS. Only lately has the difference become more noticeable. In recent years we’ve had a couple of encounters where it was assumed that Ron was my father. That’s a story for another blog, but suffice it to say I didn’t like it. I think Ron took it much better than me. His pride didn’t appear wounded. I reeled silently.

Actually, I think it bothered Little Gayle, just like she didn’t want people thinking her mother was her grandmother, she didn’t want people thinking her husband was her father (ick). So I began wondering if I should grow my hair to it’s natural color. My stylist strongly objected. She said it would age me prematurely (wasn’t that the point) and that the color would look awful (no beautiful Silverlocks for me!) Coincidentally, Ron started wondering what he would look like if he let his hair grow out to its natural color (did I mention that Ron’s son also has beautiful Silverlocks.)

So there I am with a major boundary dilemma. It was Ron’s head, but I didn’t want him to change it. I struggled with what to do or not do. Finally I decided to try the enlightened (not highlightened) path and tell him about my feelings and my confusion. I explained from where my anxieties were coming and told him that I knew what he did with his hair was ultimately his decision. In Ron's typically laid back fashion he replied with a nonchalant shrug and said “No problem - I was just wonderin.” I spend (waste) a whole lot more energy worrying that he does!

And that was that. Once we (Little Gayle and I) got heard and understood the anxiety dissipated. Ron and I still get highlightened and I have ALL my gray covered too. Now I get devilish pleasure when I see confusion in someone’s eyes about our age difference. I better enjoy their perplexity while it lasts. Who knows how long it will be before my hair color isn’t enough to throw them off track! Whether or not Silverlocks ever comes to visit the heads of Lambert-Luster household remains to be seen.

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