To Dye or Not to Dye


Driving to Monterey today, looking at the velvety green hills and the occasional sprinkles of white on the tallest ones, my mind started composing this blog post.

I thought about how everyone in California dyes their hair – menopausal women (no surprise there), old guys, young women, teen-aged boys. Everyone, at least it seems like it. I know a woman in her eighties with bright red hair.

When I was in my mid-fifties and going through a divorce, my hairdresser looked at my medium-brown hair that she’d been dying the gray out of for a few years and said, “You need to become a blonde.”

“Okay,” I said.

After all, my life was changing big-time, so why not change my hair color, too?

Although we chose a darker shade of blond hair dye, time has lightened the bottom half of my hair due to all my time outdoors. If I touch the ends of my hair to the roots, it’s two completely different shades of blond.

Why dye it? Divorce, menopause, more gray hairs than not. I used to pluck the rogue gray hairs, but seriously, I’d be bald by now if I’d plucked them all.

Why not to dye it?  When my daughter mentioned dyeing hers, I looked at her gorgeous thick shiny locks and said, “Don’t do it.  Dye damages hair. Wait till you turn gray.”

(She’ll do what she wants.)

Let’s face it, as people age, their hair quality goes down. It becomes drier, more brittle, dull-looking, and sometimes just plain ugly. Not everyone! Some of my friends have gorgeous salt and pepper gray hair, or long locks of stunning white hair, or lovely gray hair against an olive complexion. But the WASPs of the world fade away as we age, our English/Scottish/Irish ancestors from a colder, cloudier clime, our pale DNA not used to the California sun.

I’ve been a blonde for almost ten years. It’s mostly good, but I did think of three reasons on the drive down about what is NOT good about being a blonde while also being a pre-Medicare senior.

#1 When I’ve gone dancing, I’ve had a younger man on more than one occasion mistake me for a younger woman and therefore feel free to partner dance with me in a jerky, reckless fashion, thereby hurting my arm/shoulder/neck/back/fill in the blank.

#2 When I was at a music-in-the-park event, seated in my tall lawn chair, an older Medicare-aged friend behind me in a lower lawn chair used my shoulder to pull herself up and out of her chair. It was like getting a free chiropractic adjustment as my neck went crack, crunch, crack, crack, crunch as she pulled up her 125 lbs. with my shoulder as her counterweight. Yes, from the back, I do look younger with my blond tresses, but really? What was she thinking?

#3 Circling back to number one, sometimes those younger dance partners also ask me out. I’ll never forget the guy who asked me to dance to a Beatles song. When I said I loved the Beatles, he said his parents did, too.

This is not something one wants to hear when dancing with a good-looking guy. As the night progressed, I learned that he was fifteen years my junior and that he wanted me to go to a music festival in Mendocino for the weekend. I did not go. I also did not tell him how old I was.

I don’t want to date a guy who wasn’t born yet when JFK was assassinated, or with someone who was twenty on 9-11. What would we talk about, anyway?

Another night a guy grabbed me on the dance floor and kept saying, “Give me your number.” Another time a younger guy danced with me and kept touching the merchandise and saying, “You are so beautiful.” I was flattered and horrified at the same time.

All three guys were much too young, as in, I was much too old.

I think the blog post was better in my head as I drove today. I need to get a recording device so I can save all the good ideas on the road. Maybe Toyota will add that feature on its newer Prius models.

Maybe I already have that feature and don’t even know it.  Come to think of it, a younger guy with better technology skills wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.


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