Coat of Many Colors


May 3, 2013 by Marj Hatzell

My grandmother’s salon color was “frivolous fawn.”

I kid you not, she dyed her hair that color FOR YEARS. When she finally stopped putting color in in (I’m thinking she was in her late sixties? later?) she had the most beautiful white hair. And I mean pure white, whiter than snow. It was seriously lovely hair. She still went every week to have her hair set at the salon so it looked pretty for the weekend well into her nineties. Turns out my now-neighbor was her hairdresser for a few decades and even when she passed, my neighbor was called to the funeral home to do her hair.

My mom was more of a “copper penny” girl. She was a natural red head. And I mean RED. So when she started to go grey in her late twenties/early thirties (coincidentally around the time I was born!) she just wasn’t ready for it. So she found hair color that matched her vibrant red and I never saw a grey hair on her head. Even when she didn’t have the energy to color it any more, she bought herself red wigs and shaved off her natural hair. I had no idea how much hair she had until one of her hospital trips about three years ago when she didn’t have a wig with her and I saw her beautiful white hair for the first time. It was peppered with copper and was seriously beautiful. And I told her, “Mom, what the heck? Why do you color this? This is a color people PAY FOR.” Not sure if she listened to me or not but she did stop wearing the wigs and let her hair grow back in.

The night before she passed (two weeks ago) we were taking turns sitting in the room, holding her hand as she gasped for air. Her fragile lungs just couldn’t do it anymore and they slowly filled with fluid. She was no longer waking up and giving us zingers (YOU LOOK PREGNANT!) and wasn’t giving anyone stink eye when they told her she couldn’t have a milkshake because she was choking on them. I remember sitting there by myself in the dark, holding her hand, singing her favorite songs to her, stroking her beautiful copper and white hair and telling her it was ok, we were going to be fine. When I stepped out later to stretch and use the bathroom I remember I looked in the mirror. It had been several months since I colored my hair. And I remember thinking I’d need to get it done before the funeral.

Yes, dear internet friends, the red is not mine. Mine is grey. White, actually. I have naturally strawberry blonde hair (darker strawberry blonde these days) but no one has seen it in twenty-five years or more because I have this thing with coloring my hair. Blame it on my mother for her influence, if you’d like. I’m just a tad impulsive (again, like my mother). And I have a fairly fiery personality. So I got tired of the blonde, the gold, the peroxide (blame that on the eighties) and the like. I was a fake blonde FOR YEARS. Let me just say that someone with my skin tone should NEVER be blonde. I have the kind of skin people get snow blind for looking at. At some point after the boys were babies I stopped coloring my hair and my natural strawberry blondish, light brownish reddish hair came back through. It’s a color that seriously doesn’t exist in a bottle and I was getting grey hair. No, WHITE hair. I feel like I’m twenty-five and I decided grey hair wasn’t for me. Yet. So one week I was at the beauty supply store and picked up Copper Penny-ish. That’s how I’ve been for about five years now.

Well, until last week.

I never got around to coloring my hair for the funeral a week after my mother passed. It bothered me the whole day because I could see those white hairs. Monday I put my kids on the bus, went to the beauty supply store and spotted a new, ammonia-free, sulfate-free line of hair color and thought, “Huh! Bright Auburn! That sounds interesting!” And the color on the box was redder than my normal but I figured, “What the heck? I’ve got nothing to lose.” So I dyed it.

My first clue should have been the color in the bowl as I mixed it.

My second clue should have been the stuff sticking to my skin and making it look carrot orange.

My third clue should have been seeing the BRIGHT RED water rinsing out of my hair in the shower.

When I stepped back in front of the mirror I broke down in tears. Totally not the color I was going for. TOTALLY. NOT. THE. RIGHT. COLOR. I looked like Ronald McDonald. Or Wendy Thomas and her old-fashioned hamburgers. Don’t believe me? Feast your eyes on the before and after:

See? Reddish, a little grey (which I conspicuously cropped out)

Before I ruined my hair. See? Reddish, a little grey in there (which I conspicuously cropped out)

The day I did it. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

The day I dyed it. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

THis morning, after five washes.  Sigh. Still RED.

This morning, after five washes. Sigh. Still RED.

Needless to say I’ve bought color corrector and a boat-load of hair repair. Even though everyone who has seen it thinks it is “awesome” and “brings out my eyes.” Well, everyone except The Guy I Live With, who is used to my impulsive hair mistakes and merely shook his head and said,”
It’s red.”

I think I’ve learned my lesson, yo. Stick with what I know. And once I fix this I may just let it go back to natural.

In about ten years.




10 thoughts on “Coat of Many Colors

  1. I’m so sorry your sprite grandmother died. THis makes me sad. Our old people dying makes me sad. xo

  2. texas 'r' us says:

    You’re radiant whatever carrot topping you’re sporting.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom, take care, hey you look great!

  4. theresa says:

    get yourself to Martindales and buy some Rainbow Henna in the Burgundy. It will tone down the Wendy red, to a much lovelier auburn (ya know, like mine. Cause that’s what I use, lol. The downside of being a true redhead is, as you’ve noted, going grey when you’re still an infant.)

  5. joeinvegas says:

    I was thinking more of Pippi

  6. […] emotional! I promised I’d wait all summer until I made any changes, thanks to the orange Wendy’s hair debacle. But I didn’t make this decision under duress. In fact, it was well-planned. Honest! […]

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