My hair has been some sort of blonde 99 percent of my life. A towhead as a child, the color has varied over the years, but there’s always been some shade of blonde to it.
I came by the color naturally, since both my parents were blonde as youngsters.
My father’s hair eventually took on a reddish hue, before it thinned to the point that he was just grateful to have any hair at all.
My mother’s hair became a rich brown with auburn highlights, and when she died at 70, it was still a stunning color with minimal gray.
I always hoped I would take after her.
Sometime in early November, I got the urge to do something different with my hair. I thought maybe coloring it two shades darker would be the ticket.
I spent 30 minutes in the drugstore, reading all the hair color boxes and comparing those faux hair swatches to find something that was different but not drastic.
At last I settled on Sandalwood and one Thursday afternoon, I colored my hair.
I loved it. It was different but not stark. Plus, because of all the emollients and conditioners they add to the color, my hair felt better, looked healthier.
I posted a photo on Facebook and the reviews came in. Thumbs up.
Tom did not notice.
But within a month, the color was washed away and my blonde strands came poking through.
Two weeks ago, in another store, I sought out the color again, hoping this time to go two shades darker than Sandalwood. Since the color is numbered, it wasn’t a hard task. Except this time, the store did not offer two shades/numbers darker.
I spent an inordinate amount of time once again reading boxes and comparing swatches before deciding Honey Blonde would be my new color.
I was set to do it last week, then Jim Pitt called and said he was coming to town. We agreed to meet at Driftwood for lunch and right before he hung up, he asked how he would recognize me.
“Blonde curly hair,” I said, regretting the words as soon as they left my lips. That meant my hair color would have to wait.
Finally with the weekend almost behind me, and my lunch with Jim finished, I sequestered myself in the bathroom and set about to become Honey Blonde for our Christmas picture.
Fifteen minutes later, I did not recognize the woman in the mirror.
I crept into Tom’s office holding the towel in front of me.
“Are you ready?” I asked. “It’s a lot darker,” I almost whispered because had I talked normally, I would have burst into tears.
I dropped the towel and Tom’s face said it all.
He said it looked good. I thought he was trying to placate me. He said he meant it. “It doesn’t look bad,” he said. “It’s such a stark difference.”
And he was right.
My Honey Blonde head was anything but. What stared back at me in the mirror was a flaming redhead.
Well, auburn to be more exact. No more blonde. No light brown. Auburn. Vibrant.
We took the photo, I kept checking myself in the hall mirror to see if it really was that red. It was.
Three days later, as I write this, it is still a brilliant hue. Co-workers have said nice things; others have remained silent, taking my mother’s advice if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
I console myself with the thought this is not a permanent color, since it will wash out in 28 shampoos (25 more to go).
I’ve tried to think of a celebrity who shares the same color tresses to compare myself to but thus far, I have drawn a blank.
I can only think of my mother. And that’s not a bad thing.
Contact Carolyn Risner at email@example.com.