It all happened so quickly, I was not sure how to react. Shock, fear, tension, excitement; it was all there. I was not prepared.
The room was not red, it was done in earth-tones, and very dark. There was not a necktie to be seen. This was a casual affair.
They approached cautiously, but smiling. I had not seen most of them since my wedding, decades earlier. It was my father’s retirement party.
And then it started. One by one, they almost all made the same comment.
“You look so good, Van. We love your salt and pepper hair.”
Salt and Pepper ??? What ? Me ? I was forty-something. No way.
Having a love-hate relationship with hair my whole life, this was nothing new.
Coming in at just under 10 pounds, I was born covered with dark hair. My folks chuckled as they described me as a kind of “baby gorilla”. No wonder there were no pictures of me until I was several months old and had shed a bit of that baby fur.
It didn’t end there. I battled with hair in places it was most unwelcome. There were 4 girls in my family, and we all shaved our legs in secret with Dad’s razor. When I took my turn, he had to change the blade. Every time.
The hair was very dark against my pale skin and thin face. Think…. Morticia Addams, but with bangs. I had to cover those heavy brows until Brooke Shields came to my rescue.
My first attempt at hair color came with a toothbrush and a bottle of peroxide. Activated by a bit of summer sun, it lightened up my teen years. It didn’t last.
A true brunette until my 30’s, I went back to the “bottle” when my children both came out blonde. I didn’t want to look like the nanny. I chose a soft brown, which morphed to orange in the chlorine of the community pool. I was done with hair dye. Or so I thought.
Dad’s party was an eye opener. With decades of photo albums, how did I not see the transition? The grey threads had started, but they were mostly underneath, and easy to ignore.
Until it no longer did.
Just last Spring, I wanted to see what was hiding under there.
And, it’s not what I thought. It’s not Cruella DeVille.