The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Amazing Adventures With Hair Dye

October 7, 2006

Amazing Adventures With Hair Dye

Yes, it is that time. I am finally doing it. I will be dyeing my purple hair back to its natural color--black.

Why? Because it's time. Because the purple was cool and funky about 4 weeks ago, when it was actually purple. Now, it's a sad pink and my roots are showing.

And also because it costs $120 to get it back to purple and only $3.00 to restore it back to black.

It's been 2 years since I've had natural hair color. A part of me knows that it's time to give my hair a break, time to look like the adult I am, time to present a professional face to the many business associates I come in contact with on a daily basis.

But part of me mourns the loss of this vivacious companion I've had with me for the past two years. My hair has caused quite a few adventures, both big and small.

My hair has started many conversations with strangers. City folk, who usually keep to themselves, are suddenly extremely friendly when you have colored hair. I have been stopped on the street, in bathrooms, on the train, in airports, at Starbucks. Most of the time, it's someone who compliments me on the color. Once, however, a woman in the ladies room said, "Now that is an interesting choice. You know, lots of people are going to tell you it's cute, but I'm not going to lie. It's... Interesting."

I also get asked for help from strangers a lot. Once, at the airport, a 12 year old girl asked if I could stay with her until her uncle showed up to pick her up. I sometimes wonder if people assume folks with colored hair can't possibly be child kidnappers or serial killers.

My hair has driven men wild. Men, who had seen me daily and never given me the time of day were suddenly full of hellos and smiles when I turned up with blood red hair. "What'd you do last night, " one of them asked, "Go clubbing?" I think he was hoping that I said yes. Which is strange, since he was as straight-laced as they come.

My hair has also been the cause of much wistfulness for youth past. Numerous older women often say to me, "I wish I were young enough to do that." Or, "If I were 20 years younger..."

My colored hair went with me on a road trip to Minneapolis to see Chris Isaak in concert. It was a standing room only show, and we stood in line for 4 hours on the coldest day in Minneapolis that year. My colored hair was there as I danced in the front row, caring nothing about how I looked but knowing that I was finally being the vivacious, bold woman that I was made to be. That night, my colored hair and I got invited to drinks with a man--the first time in all my 28 years.

Most of all, I think my colored hair has taught me a life lesson about being seen. Sometimes, I catch myself going about my day in an interpersonal cave. I'm determined to get what I need done for the day. I walk around, eyes pinned on the ground, never making eye contact. I don't try to make new friends and certainly don't talk to people on the el. In fact, the less of me that gets seen, the better.

When you have colored hair, you get over the fear of being watched really fast. You're going to get looked at, no matter where you are and no matter what you're doing, even if it's something as simple as riding the train to work. Once I realized that what other people see or think about me really doesn't affect me in any tangible, practical manner, it was like the world became lighter. I walked taller. I made eye contact. I even smiled at strangers. The world is always going to have an opinion of me. I have just stopped caring what that opinion is.

Yesterday, on the el, I saw a lady with purple hair get on the train. I got to admit, I looked. And then looked again. I didn't stop her and try to make conversation, but I did smile, and wish for youth past. And then, I did have an opinon of her. Granted, it was a positive opinion, but there I was, just like the world that I was supposed to care so little about.

And then, I laughed and thought to myself, "Welcome to the dark side."

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