Monday, August 09, 2010

A hair-raising tale.

A hair-raising tale

The other morning I noticed something in my bathroom mirror when I was brushing my hair.

Something on my head caught the light.

I put my brush down. I leaned closer, inspecting my part with my fingers.

What was that? I narrowed my eyes. Is that ... could that be … a gray hair?

I pulled out the suspect for a closer look. It was white from root to end. My God, I thought. My first gray hair.

Poking around, I suddenly saw another glint. No! Not another one.

Two gray hairs in one day.

This was almost more than I could take.

The gray hair was at least five inches long. It had been growing on my head for months, even a year.

I felt invaded, as if something alien had sprouted on my head. I am way too young to have gray hair. Right?

Before this I’d never really thought much about gray hair.

I casually dismissed ads for gray hair coloring products or remedies. Who me, gray hair? Only old people have gray hair, I said smugly.

Yeah, I was pretty much asking for it.

After my own gray hair discovery, I was on gray hair alert.

I started surreptitiously checking out my friends and coworkers. From my gray hair patrol, I learned that gray strikes women and men of all ages.

I just found two gray hairs, said a coworker who is 30 years old.

Another reporter in his 30s has gone gray along the sides.

It’s hereditary, he insisted.

A mom friend of mine has strands of white through her black hair. Another colleague has a row of gray at her part. Gray hair — it was everywhere.

My own gray could be a result of bad karma. About a month before my own first gray sighting, I thought nothing of exposing my husband’s own gray hair.

We were standing on the front porch.

The sun hit his head, perfectly illuminating the crop of grays sprinkled throughout his hair.

Wow, look at all your gray hair, I said loudly.

Stop that, he said.

What? I said. It’s no big deal, I said innocently.

Don’t talk about my gray hair, he said huffily.

There were other related incidents.

A few months ago, I found myself squinting at my phone when reading my messages.

I’ve had a mild prescription for distance vision but this was the first time that something didn’t seem quite right up close. I pulled the phone closer and farther, trying to get a better focus.

Odd, I thought at the time.

My eye doctor gave me the news. Your vision has changed a bit, he said. Just try a pair of readers — as in reading glasses.

Reading glasses? I said. But that’s what my mother wears.

Me, reading glasses? (Again with the denial.)

Lots of people wear readers, the doctor consoled me. It’s no big deal.

Is it a coincidence that I noticed my gray hairs and failing vision right about the time when we became parents of not one but two teenagers in the house?

I think not.

Oldest daughter is now 16 and middle child is 13. Even the youngest has left her little girl years behind her now that she’s 10, or double digits, as she calls it.

Naturally, I blame my decline on them.

So what does a newly discovered gray-haired mom do?

I made an appointment to visit my hair stylist pronto.

As soon as I sat down in the salon chair, I confessed what I’d found.

It was a gray hair, I said gravely.

Two of them.

Combing my hair, she took a closer look. There was no hesitation.

Oh yes, she said. I see them.

THEM? How many of “them” do you see, I said in a panic. I thought I had pulled all of “them” out!

Oh, just a few, she said diplomatically.

Don’t worry, we’ll take care of that with your highlights, she said. Two hours later my gray hair(s) were once again camouflaged.

I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to my husband. Your gray hair isn’t so bad.

I’m sure we make quite a distinguished-looking couple.

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