When I get restless, my hair often takes the fall. First the cut, then the color. Phase one went down several months ago when I had the hairstylist shorten my coif from shoulder length to some point between chin and ear. I looked like a mushroom or a circumcised penis. Choose your analogy.
It grew out a little and I grew content. Then I got bored again. Yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere, I decided to pick up some hair color. It was as black and shiny as a "Starry Night." I put it on my light brown hair and waited. Then I rinsed and conditioned and then rinsed and towel dried, all with the flutter of expectation. When the blackness was unveiled, I said "eh." And I was happy enough. It wasn't beautiful but it was different. Sometimes I like to look in the mirror and be shocked more than I like to look in the mirror and be satisfied with what I see.
In the car on my way to pick up The Boss from pre-school I looked in the visor's mirror to find the light playing strange tricks on me. I began to worry that the color hadn't taken in some spots. Once The Boss was secured in her seat, we tooled off to Rite Aid to buy more color. In the mirror over the sunglasses display, however, I began to doubt my doubt. The locks looked solid and black under the fluorescence.
"Excuse me," I said to a young woman with frizzy hair and acne and a tag over her right bazoom with a name on it I've since forgotten. "I dyed my hair earlier today and now I'm worried that it still shows some of my original color. See here? Is there any brown?"
She peered through metal-framed glasses at my head. Her nose lifted ever so slightly as her eyes crossed over its bridge. "No, I don't think so. It doesn't look brown." Her face narrowed and pursed. "But it looks...well, it looks blue. Is it supposed to look blue?"
For a split second, I hesitated. Then I flipped my wrist in a gesture of nonchalance."Eh, that's fine." I wasn't asking her about blue. Blue was not a concern. "So you're saying there's no brown, right?"
That was settled. I nodded to her and then flounced over to The Boss, who was ogling the nail polish selection, having decided that her fingernails needed their own change. I looked at the array of bottles and then at the colorless nubs of her chewed fingers. I saw the attraction.
The Boss grabbed the long neck of a pale pink bottle and pulled it from its line toward the left of the plastic display spectrum. Her chest swelled with anticipation as she held it up to me. "Can I get it?" she asked, her voice breathless and sweet.
I checked the price and, when I saw that it was only .99 cents, I had to say yes. But the color was so muted. So blah. "Are you sure you want that shade?" I asked. After a quick scan of the bottles before us, I grabbed "Fuschia Shock" and held it up against her "Polyester Pink Creme."
"I love pale pink," The Boss said decisively.
My shoulders shrugged into a head-shake that made my blue hair sway. I put back the fuschia. As we walked down the aisle toward the registers, The Boss clutched her bottle of pink conservatism in one hand while I held onto the other hand. I wondered if she'd eventually grow bolder or if her personality was destined to stay refined. I wondered if she'd always be content with pretty or would come to appreciate, like I do, things that are startlingly bright.
Later that night The Partner came home to his two changed women. He looked at The Boss's painted fingers and told her she looked beautiful in pale pink. When he looked at me, the compliments did not flow so freely. After some silence and then some filler, he finally said what he felt he had to: "It looks...nice."
I raised my eyebrows in a way that warded off his humoring of me. "Eh," I said. "It's different. That's all I was going for." And then I pulled out some pots and pans for dinner and began the daily routine, satisfied for now that the only thing that had changed was my hair color.