When you have hair like this, as I do, you get into weird conversations with complete strangers. Why? I have no idea, but people seem to think that a comment is required sometimes.
Here’s a fairly typical example of a conversation that I’m forced to have now and then. It happened earlier this week while I was heading down to the ground floor to run an errand:
Random middle-aged man in elevator: “That’s some red hair you got there.”
Me: “Yes, well, thanks to my parents.”
RMAMIE: “Wow, both of them?”
Me: “Yep, they both had it. It’s a recessive gene, so they both had to give it to me.”
RMAMIE: “Well, it’s sure red.”
Me: “I guess it is.”
See? A variation on this is the one where a complete stranger will come up to me, do some type of double-take, and start telling me about some cousin or distant acquaintance to whom I bear an uncanny resemblance. Apparently there’s an awful lot of oversized, pear-shaped red headed women with sharp features and thin lips running around on this planet. This happened most recently at lunch one day at work, when a woman started telling me, out of the blue as a passed her in a doorway, all about her friend that lookedjust like me. She was startled because at first she thought I was her friend, who’s from a distant state.
The most bizarre experience of this type happened when I was in high school on a Job’s Daughters sleep-away trip in Vernal, Utah. I had gone to the local Rexall drug store to get something with some of the other girls, and this pharmacist lady comes running up to me from the back, throws her arms around me, and starts carrying on in German: “Meine kusine, meine kusine von Duetschland” (My girl cousin, my girl cousin from Germany!). The really odd thing was that at the time, I spoke enough German tobe able to understand her and be extremely baffled. I stammered something equivalent to “No, I’m sorry, I’m an American girl.”
I’m not sure why, but this kind of conversation is NEVER, EVER initiated by someone younger than myself. It’s almost always a middle aged man. Women often add a compliment, or confine themselves to saying “You have beautiful hair,” or “What a lovely color.” Men tend to back into it awkwardly, commenting on how red it is, or speculating on where it came from.
Well, it didn’t come from a bottle, bub.
Now that bright silver-grey hairs are becoming more and more common, of course, I have to resign myself to losing the one thing that makes me stand out in a crowd. The color didn’t fade as I got older, thank goodness; and I’m pretty happy with how bright the grey hairs are and the streaks they’re starting to form at the temples and my natural part. I’m okay with that, and I certainly won’t resort to The Bottle in order to keep the color, because they just don’t make this color (it’s actually a bunch of differentreds – some deep red mixed with a much finer strawberry blonde).