Every woman over fifty gets the same advice from her hairdresser — lighten up your hair. As our skin fades and our looks do, too, we need brighter lipstick, sparkly-er clothing and blonder locks to stay looking as young as we can. My apologies to women of color; this may not apply to you.
So when I looked around the table the other night at Bridges, our classy watering hole with two violinists and a cellist playing Beatles songs, where seven of my girlfriends had gathered because it was a Thursday, I counted the blond heads. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, myself, and one brunette with reddish highlights.
Seven out of eight of us are blondes. As a group, we make up The Blond-tourage. Normally we don’t get much attention because, as my daughters will tell you, everyone in this town is blond.
Not true, but most women of a certain age have gone lighter on the locks. Take us out of our town, and we stand out like a big blond sore thumb.
We went to a memorial service last month near Berkeley. We carpooled, got lost, and got there right before it started. As we filed into our reserved row, I realized we were all yellow-haired, some of us naturally, most of us not. I was self-conscious. We must’ve looked like clones to the younger set in the pews behind us.
When we headed to the Santa Cruz mountains to hear live music in the little town of Felton, once again we looked out of place. We didn’t have on Birkenstocks, and our dates didn’t have hair longer than we did. We didn’t even have dates. Once again, we were the blond-tourage coming to invade their earthy space!
We are like Shark-nado, only instead of sharks, we are blondes whirling around, stirring up trouble. Actually, we are no trouble at all. Just keep those glasses of Chardonnay coming, and separate checks, please.
No, we don’t need separate checks. Just divide the bill equally and put it on these six credit cards. Yes, the waiters draw straws when they see us coming.
Who has to handle the blonde bill? Not me! Not me! Dang, I got the short straw!
I get it. I’ve been a waitress. I try to leave a hefty tip. But it usually gets swallowed up by someone who decides the waitress didn’t work that hard, so she pulls back a fiver she owes to make the tip more in the 15% range. This is maddening to me. The woman has clearly never waited tables in her life. So my extra tip has now paid for part of my friend’s dinner.
The best part about waitressing is counting up your tips at the end of the night and realizing you are making more per hour than the average college-educated school teachers. Sad but true (I’ve been both, and at the same time).
Then there’s the woman who gets a free glass of wine because the waitress got confused, and instead of leaving an extra big tip, she pulls back her ten dollar bill, satisfied that she saved some money.
I love all my girlfriends, but as a group we are a force to be reckoned with. We file in, and the room takes notice. We file out, and the wait staff breathes a sigh of relief.
I usually love the little Thursday night impromptu gatherings, but sometimes I want to be less conspicuous, less a gaggle of gals, and more an individual who is assured she will be part of the conversation, a one on one arrangement, two blondes talking or sharing a quesadilla (not at Bridges – they don’t have that).
Maybe one of us even would even have different colored hair.
Who knew I would miss this after 14 months of pandemic?