Now I get to bemoan the fading of the red from my hair. Well, not really, as I do appreciate (if not 100%, I appreciate it about 90%) the ebb and flow of changes over time. And if my hair color needs to shift, so be it. I welcome the gray, that is not what I bemoan. I have gray mixed in already, and a more-prominent section streaks the front. No I am fine with gray and the natural course of aging.
What I bemoan is simply that the red has faded over the years. This was brought home to me recently when someone in a meeting at work mentioned the ‘red-headed stepchild’. As a joke, I feigned shock and insult at the comment. But instead of laughs, I received odd looks, and the comment, ‘you don’t have red hair’.
I’m no ginger, but I’ve had deep reddish-brownish hair my whole life: some Irish red tinged a bit darker with the influence of some Semitic heritage. As a kid, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I just wanted to fit in. I didn’t want to be the only one in class or even the school with curly red hair! Like Steven Jesse Bernstein said, ‘I wanted straight, black hair’. But it was not to be. I mean, I wasn’t tortured by it, I never felt the need to chop it off (until my mid-twenties, but that was not so I’d fit in; quite the opposite, I began shaving my head, years before it was en vogue, as a rebellion and an aggro thing…ugh). It was simply different, and I had to live with that.
But I can recall the first time I related to somebody around my hair. I was eight years old, and it was around the Christmas holiday. One of the old-timey animated shows was on, The Year Without a Santa Claus. The two characters who stood out were the Cold Miser and the Heat Miser. Yes! Heat Miser was this round doofus who was in charge of heat on the planet, and his head of red flaming hair was the best part. One of my peeps!
It was fun, but didn’t get me over the red-hair hangup. That would come much later, in my early twenties, when I read Tom Robbins’ Still Life With Woodpecker. Redheads as an alien race?! I loved it, and it gave me a different sense of peace with being different.
So now, as the red fades to a pale, more brownish-red, I am a bit nostalgic for the uniqueness of that earlier red. (Only 2% of people worldwide sport red hair, don’t you know…) But I know that time will have its way with us. So I’ll remember those days fondly, and let be what it needs to be.