Taking my lady spouse to the salon to color her hair for the first time in her life felt like I was a parent dropping a child off at prom knowing that the next time I would see her, she would be different, forever changed, innocence gone, violated. I felt sick to my stomach. She was not as upset, though it would not have been her choice to color her hair. When you’re a … mature … woman forced to look for a job in a young man’s world, you have to color that shit up.
I have been coloring my hair since my early 30s. Months before my wedding day, Reuben, my stylist, suggested I might want to do something about those grays at my temples. “Sister, you are serving some Bride of Frankenstein realness.”
“I don’t know,” I hesitated. “Do I really need to do that now?”
He put one hand on his hip and with his other hand waved his index finger at me. “Do you need to color your hair?” he asked back at me. “Well, do you need to wear control-tops under your cocktail dress? (These were the dark ages before Spanx®.) Do you need to wax your upper lip? Do you need to wear a bra?”
Still not convinced, I followed up with “Won’t I get cancer from the dye seeping into my brain?”
“Sure,” he said “but by then you won’t have enough working brain cells left to care.” Ask a stupid question…
I started coloring my hair and never looked back.
Gabriella, on the other hand, was never so inclined. Her grays grew in slowly and evenly and were hardly noticeable, until they were. It seemed as if overnight her hair became more salt than pepper. Those salty grays are practically neon when you have to start interviewing for jobs, and they all scream from the roots, “I’M AS OLD AS DIRT!” So she booked an appointment to color her hair.
Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You?” In the future, 18 year olds willingly and happily go through The Transformation. They select a new body and face from a catalog of models. Ultimately, everyone looks the same, wearing nametags to distinguish themselves from each other. They are all ageless and conventionally attractive and happy because all the ugly has been eradicated from the world.
One brave girl named Marilyn resists The Transformation. She stands up for difference, however ugly it may be, but in the end she succumbs to all the pressure and transforms, body and mind. She chooses Number 8, and she could not be happier to look like everyone else and spend the rest of her days walking around in a leotard and tights – hopefully with a snap-flap somewhere so they don’t have to completely disrobe just to pee!
I first saw that episode when I was a kid, and it freaked me out. And now, we don’t have to look very far to see that The Transformation is real. Hollywood, South Korea, Brazil – we’ll do anything to look younger and prettier so that we feel better about ourselves and so others feel better about us, too.
When I pulled up in front of the salon to collect my violated spouse, she was sipping the last drops of the red wine they provided, anesthesia necessary for The Transformation. She gave the colorist a full-bodied hug, almost forgetting to give her the check made out for Too Many Dollars. She practically skipped to the car while I sat fuming in my seat because Rod Serling knew that the world was whack and getting whacker by the minute.
“You’re hooked now, aren’t you?” I asked her as she admired her very brown hair in the mirror.
“Not at those prices!” she assured me. “I’m done after I get a job,” she said. “But it looks good, right?”
“Yes, but you were hot even before The Transformation.”
We shall see if the dye has taken hold of her senses by the time the grays return. Perhaps, she will resist the power of The Transformation and perhaps we can both avoid a leotarded future.