Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recession Gray

At a recent family party, I cuddle my grand-nephew and introduce him to a guest.

“He has such beautiful hair.” The woman coos and tickles his belly.

“Levi, the first redhead of his generation,” I beam. Just like his aunt a blend of enough red to be smart and enough blonde to be dumb I take silent note.

“Isn’t there a history of redheads in your family?” She says.

Startled, I question her eye sight. Just what the heck do you think I am? I swallow my thought.

With the baby cheek-to-cheek, I stare at our reflection. Strawberry-blonde. Golden hues and light red. Yes, we’re related. But what’s this? My blonde is overtaking the red. I’m becoming a blonde. Sprouts of dementia bloom at my crown. I sense my intelligence fade. Quickly, I speak my name aloud just to see if I remember.

Cynthia, Cynthy, Cindi. Good, I’m still in self-recognition mode.

Unsettled, I peer harder. Worse. I see gray. I blink my eyes in disbelief and swear they multiply in that instant. Spawned by the stressful economy, the colorless invaders resemble the same outcropping on President Obama in recent months.

“I’ve got recession gray.” I gulp.

Obama and I are in a tight race to the silver dome. This is not good. America’s got to hold its head up high. And in color. Homeland security starts at ground zero and this war against listless white is top priority. I type an email to the White House and invite our leader to join the cause.

I shout in bold print, “I’m gonna wash that gray right out of my hair…”

After a call to the local salon, I choke at the fee. A kin to scammers, I roll pennies for hours. Nowhere near the seventy dollar mark, I put on the plastic gloves and concede to a box job.

Money tight, I embrace the Republican approach and use the product with caution and diligence. No liberal coverage. Non-permanent color. No unnecessary cost.

I pop the tab off the bottle and pour the contents of bottle one into bottle two. A quick glance at my image in the mirror and I look like the mad scientist in gray vogue. Although the final promised color is a golden red the wet product is hemorrhage-purple. Shocked, I grab the box and check again – Golden Sienna. Stamped with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, Clairol, my image rests in your potion.

Conservative, I leave it on for ten minutes. Scared of the deep color resembling a bruise, I finger the damp strands for scalp stain. Anyway, it washes out nicely. I can’t say as much for the white shower stall. I apply the conditioner for two minutes, dry my hair and it looks nice. The purple eases into a golden red and I wonder what shade our President should consider.

In the dawn’s early light I survey the follicle landscape. It’s now the shade of a spent pumpkin. Orange even. Perhaps the conservative path paled. I cringe but remember my pocketbook and give myself a pat for frugality. A good citizen, I fueled the economy nine dollars.

A battle zone unconquered but penetrated. A foothold, I tousle my antioxidant-fortified strands as I recite Einstein’s theory of relativity and speak three-syllable words. Golden shimmers streak from the crown and halo the bangs. Each blonde strand cloaked in carrot-pumpkin highlights. Yes, America’s got talent.

My stimulus package on course, I hear the phone ring and run to answer.

“Hi, it’s Norm.” a familiar voice says, “What’re you doing?”

“I just colored my hair.” I answer.

The inquiry continues, “Did you go red or blonde?”

“The box reads ‘light golden red’.”


“…Well, it’s more pumpkin.”

“Orange,” he chuckles.

“Orange,” I parrot.

“So you’re still blonde.” He says.

I reflect on my dilemma. In the marketing world I can turn a copper penny silver. In the bathroom it’s a complete reversal of fortune. Silver to copper. I bow to a setback.

Refocused, I march back into battle and callout, “I’m gonna wash that orange right out of my hair…”

Some days it’s best to stay inside the box and leave it to a pro. Maybe the President can use my skills elsewhere. Got a penny?