With apologies to my very blond, very smart little sister and the awesome trainer at my gym, I said goodbye to my blond the other day. I realized that blond is an attitude I can’t sustain. I’m much better suited as a brunette.
I started out life with jet black hair, the only sibling of five to do so. Gradually it turned kinda sorta blond. Never as blond as the rest of my sibs and no matter that I am of Haraldson-Peterson-Hagebakken-Myklebust decent, as thoroughly northern European as you can get.
Family lore has it that there are a few of us “dark-haired” Norwegians in our extended family tree. We’re the ones the family looks at with raised eyebrows. Dark hair (which my family defines as anything darker than dishwater blond) pops up every other generation or so, vestiges, no doubt, of some gene from some Mediterranean Don Juan who wandered into Norway, perhaps in the 18th century, before the family moved over to the New World.
My hair turned slightly darker before I was a teenager, but in my 20s it turned brown. You could always pick me out in photos – blond older brother, blond older sister, blond little brother, blond little sister, and then me, the one not only with dark hair, but the only one with curls, too. My mother, in a low voice, would always tell me, “Well, Grandma Sondra had long dark hair, you know. And your aunt Mavis has curly hair.” She always says it like it’s some kind of family secret, a skeleton in the closet. It’s hair, for cryin’ out loud!
In my 30s, my hair started getting even darker, almost black in some places. That’s also when the gray moved in. Patches of it spattered here and there all over my head. No rhyme or reason to it. That’s when I introduced myself to Miss Clairol. When that no longer worked and the gray put up a real fight, I met Ashley. Ashley is a gray killer, no doubt, and my hair’s best friend.
For a year Ashley’s colored my hair its most recent “natural” color (sans the gray – I refuse to believe gray is “natural” when I’m only 44) with some blond highlights. Nothing outrageous, just a little lighter here and there. Life was good, my hair looked good, so I don’t know what bee crawled up my butt a few months ago when I said to Ashley, “I want to be blond. REALLY blond.” What happened to me? Was I bored? Pining for my childhood? The words were no sooner out of my mouth when Ashley and her brush and foils made me blond. And I loved it.
I immediately felt entitled. Entitled to what I don’t know, but being blond made me a part of a secret network of blonds. I seriously had “blond” moments, the ones we all laugh about in blond jokes – forgetting things, doing something stupid and laughing about it. And I didn’t care!
Who the hell was I? Paris Hilton? Nicole Riche? I knew a lot of intelligent, strong blond women and yet I was emulating blond ditzes. I couldn’t handle blond. It takes a stronger person than me to be blond AND strong AND smart without falling into the pitfalls of “Did you hear the one about the blond …”
Remember at the end of “It’s A Wonderful Life” when George Bailey ran back to the bridge after seeing what his life would have been like if he’d never lived? “Clarence! Clarence! Help me, Clarence! Get me back! Get me back, I don’t care what happens to me! Get me back to my wife and kids! Help me Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again. I wanna live again. Please, God, let me live again.” After my last blond moment on Tuesday I went running for my phone, called Ashley and said, “Ashley! Ashley! Help me, Ashley! Get me back! Get me back, I don’t care what happens to me! Get me back to my brain and maturity! Please! I wanna be smart again! I wanna solve a crossword puzzle again! Please, God, let me think again!”
And so it was that I went to see Ashley this week and was returned to my nearest-to-natural color. Whew! That was a close one. A few more weeks and I might not have returned from the light. I’d have been stuck forever in "Oh my god!" land.