Letters To Lose

Because I am untroubled by conventional ideas about hair color, mine is currently a hue most often found in two-for-one bins at the dollar store. You know the vivid orangy-pink I mean. Even polite people turn the corner and gasp, “OH MY GOD!” Two hours ago, I walked through a building where employees are unaccustomed to my mood hair. I couldn’t wait to tell my boss.

“Nobody is looking at me,” I whispered.

“You’re dull,” she said.

“No. I mean as I walk through the room they’re averting their eyes!”

[I got distracted by my co-worker who rudely tried to reacqaint me with the terms of my gainful employment, and I forgot about the conversation stopper atop my head.]

“Perhaps they fear glare. Or contagion.”

Back in the library, an older and eccentric woman with whom I share a birthday marched – click! click! click! – across the office in her platform/spike heel combo shoes, talking at least thirty seconds before crossing my field of vision, “Where are you? I have been told your hair is some piece of work -“

“Hello, Shirley.”

“That’s a nice color. It’s really bright. How’s it feel?” She grabs a lock of my hair to feel the texture. I grew up with beauticians and hippies so I’m used to people greeting me by grabbing my hair and asking in a hostile tone, “ARE YOU CONDITIONING?!” Shirley’s amazed that a head of hair that went through three color lifting processes doesn’t feel like straw. This conversation made me miss my grandmother; one time she shooed Sister #1 and me up the stairs and bleached our youthful mustaches. We felt pretty stupid but once the peroxide door had been opened, Sister #1 and I stepped through, thanked Grandma and never looked back. I haven’t seen my natural color except by accident in more than two decades, and I don’t miss it at all until I see gray roots. Thus, we have orangy-pink. Maybe: in the liquor store, the owner chatters on the phone in a language I don’t speak as I pick out a bottle of wine. When I get to the counter, I find myself standing next to a very young looking man while the owner talk-talk-talks; then, “What color is that?” He’s smiling and I realize the proprietor is indeed talking to me.

“Sunset orange. My Little Pony pink. I don’t know,” I laugh. The kid next to me says slyly, “Well…I wouldn’t have known anything…if your eyebrows had matched…”

“That’s my ethnic identity. Nobody touches the eyebrows! Because, you know, I got dignity,” I said. The store owner is laughing so hard he can’t count change.

One of the glorious aspects of being a little old lady is getting to combine the unlikely and improbable, and doing it any old way you wish. I’m practicing up. I’ll need roller skates, no?

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