The Day I Dyed

003Like all humiliations, this one caught me unawares.

Christmas Break, 2010. A certain member of my family was dyeing his or her hair, though he or she really has little grey to hide. I breezed my way into the bathroom and glanced at the mirror. I was feeling festive, even playful. A long hard semester of teaching was drawing pleasantly to a close. Days of ease and good cheer stretched out enticingly before me, distorting my perception of more permanent realities. So I piped up: “Maybe I should dye my hair, too!”

Exactly what transpired next, and why, is a matter of some dispute. It can be said with certainty, however, that the next couple of minutes were moments of great psychological subtlety. Somehow, the dark brown dye found its way into my hair–without my explicit consent, but also without my overt resistance. I vaguely recall phrases–“cheap dye”…”just four bucks”…”grey hard to cover”–before the calamitous final instruction, “Let it set a while.” Continue reading