I don’t want to have gray hair. I feel young, for the most part, and I still make mistakes and laugh at fart jokes and want to dance all night. I always thought that by the time my hair grayed I would feel gray too and I’d be wise and all-knowing and people would travel from all over the world to seek my advice on any range of issues, and that I would have grandchildren and a garden and drive a Cadillac and eat a lot of oatmeal and clip coupons and go for long walks holding hands with my husband while the sun was setting. But, I don’t feel any of that and I don’t do any of those things. And, instead of gray, I feel more like bright green with sparkles.
The dilemma is figuring out what parts of aging to embrace, and what parts are unjust and are to be challenged. If I start dying my hair, will I then need liposuction, a personal trainer, a gluten-free diet, botox injections and a wardrobe overhaul? Because that’s a lot. If I dye my hair, will it be like painting one room, where before all the other rooms were perfectly fine, but now they look awful and you can hardly even stand being in your house? Or, will it be like when you buy one new piece of furniture and suddenly realize how gross and outdated everything else you own is and you just want to go live in bungalow somewhere in the Caribbean? I don’t know if it will be like any of those scenarios, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it could be the pinnacle of a very slippery slope.
As a skier, I enjoy slippery slopes very much. But here I feel like I’m poised on a precipice upon which I’ve never stood before, and I’m looking down and there is nothing below but cloud cover, it’s a temperature inversion, hiding every detail of the vertical. I could stay here, but I’m alone, alone and gray. If I jump into this unknown, it could be a wild ride with hidden consequences and obstacles and I could end up looking like a total freak when I reach the bottom, marred by branches and ice crystals and lasers and needles. And, I really hate to admit that I may be vain. I’m okay with aging, but I don’t want to be unattractive, and I don’t want to look like I’m my friends’ mother when we have girls’ night out. I can just see it: a handsome young waiter approaches our table, the six of us all dolled up and feeling fabulous, ordering wine and salads and laughing about something insensitive our husbands said right out of the Husbands 101 manual, and he says, Hello, ladies, I can tell it’s a special occasion, perhaps a birthday? He winks at me and pours a vanilla Ensure into a martini glass and sets it in front of me with a maraschino cherry on top…
There is the option of going all out and embracing what is inevitable, that by the time I feel as old as I am I’ll probably be too old to get my ass to the salon to do anything at all with my hair, which I’m sure will be long and swirly and insane. I could preemptively dye it all gray, or white, and come up with some story about waking up one morning and looking in the mirror and holy crap I turned white! I could feign astonishment, and cultivate a New England snobbery accent, like a 1940’s actress, and call everyone dahling and start smoking. I’d have to get silk pajamas and robes and a daybed and more furs, lots of furs, and walk around the house with a rocks glass filled with ice that clinks as I glide around avoiding my own trail of smoke telling everyone to shhhhhhh. I would have to ignore my children, too, this woman doesn’t sit on the floor and pay Uno, she taps her fingernails on the new piano during the children’s three-hour daily lesson as a metronome. And I’d have to stop cooking because silk is highly flammable and I’d be really skinny because I only eat ice and nicotine, and I’d burn up quickly if I caught fire, which means we would need a housekeeper who can cook. And I’d need a driver for obvious reasons. And some other things that I can’t put my finger on right now.
So, I guess my options are rather limited and both seem to require a lot of effort and financial commitment. In the mean time, I’ll drag myself to the store on the other side of town to surreptitiously buy some brand of matchy-type color in the hair aisle and cover it up in my basket with a large bag of cotton balls that I don’t need. And then I’ll go home and spend all morning reading directions and prepping and brushing and dying, telling myself that it’s not vanity I’m servicing here, it’s my inner artist who has been for years starved of a proper canvas. And then I’ll rinse the darkness from my hair, careful not to let it linger on the white tiles, lest it stain and forever serve as a tattle-tell of my cosmetic deception, and then, voila! I will have erased Father Time in one small way; but I look at my hands and my eyes and my boobs and I realize that the hair is where the deception stops. He is winning this game of moisture and gravity; but I’m not competitive, I play for the fun of playing, and when it is no longer fun, alas, I will surrender and let him drape me in gray, because gray just may be the new black.