Sunday, 17 June 2007

"Grey Times" published June 17

Grey Times

“We don’t do grey,” said my hairdresser.
I had warned her when I sat down that I would not be swayed from my mission.
“So does that mean you don’t have grey as a colour dye in the salon or you are politically opposed to doing grey on a woman my age?” I asked eager to turn the discussion into a philosophical debate not often found in a hairdressers.
“A bit of both,” she answered, shutting it down.
I looked around and saw that the entire salon had ground to a halt. Not in a silent, everyone stops what they are doing way that you see in the movies when the director needs emphasis. More in a still reading their magazines (clients) still snipping their scissors (hairdressers) but their ears had all just been rotated like huge satellite dishes in my direction.
“Jasmine, I want to be grey, and I want to be grey now!” I demanded raising my voice for the benefit of the eavesdroppers.
The hairdresser behind me smirked as he snipped away. “Another mad Grey Lynn woman worried about the cancer causing effects of hair dye,” I imagined he was thinking.
The “grey” thing as my friends and family call it began a few months ago when I did my accounts for the year. The wonderful thing about computerised accounting systems is that you can type in a code and see how much you spent in the past year on specific things like dining at SPQR, dining at Prego and getting your hair coloured. I would have been better off buying shares in SPQR and Prego. But hair colouring, while not as expensive as dining, was a return air ticket to Europe which is the currency I exist on at the moment. Every four weeks, three hours in the chair and a couple of hundred bucks later. Couple that with the fact that apart from the occasional TV appearance I no longer need to look groomed and sophisticated as I shuffle around my home in my ugg boots pretending to write for a living.
So it was off to the library on my bike, as you do in Grey Lynn, and home with a book called “Going Gray, Looking Great!” Billed as the modern woman’s guide to unfading glory I knew this was just the encouragement I needed. Being American it spelled “grey” as “gray” and neatly side-stepped the whole issue of cancer causing chemicals in hair dyes, but that’s okay because there isn’t actually much proof around. I’m just generally opposed to chemicals of any kind coming anywhere near my body, unless it’s Chanel No 5 which I won’t live without even if it does make me sneeze. The book concentrated more on Oprah style feel good messages like “there’s a whole new “cool” to grey. Works for celebrities, men and models” and “Silver is a fantastic background to showcase what God gave you” and my personal favourite “Like the lustre on fine pearls, silver hair is a woman’s patina.”
And then I looked at the pictures. Groomed hopeful women stared at me from the pages and it didn’t really matter how many ways I played it, silver, pearl or platinum they just looked, well, old. Nice, but old.
My friends did their best to talk me out of it.
“Do you ever want to have lunch with a man under 35 again?” I was asked.
“Well I think all the young men I know like me for my essence not for what colour my hair is,” I responded defiantly.
“Yeah, essence, young men are really into that,” they chortled.
My husband was encouraging. According to “Going Gray, Looking Great!” husbands may worry that you’ll let yourself go if you let your hair go grey. They may still see you as the “girl” they married and miss her when she’s grey. Perhaps my husband’s enthusiasm had to do with the fact that I’ve already “let myself go,” he married me when I was 35 and already sprouting a few greys and he rather likes the idea that lunch with young men might be off the menu.
And so we did it. Jasmine and I. Like all good intelligent women we compromised. She calls it ash blonde, I call it going grey gradually and she promises me I will reach a point in the future where dying my hair will be an occasional not an essential task and that air fare to Europe will be tucked firmly in my back pocket.
“Has anyone said anything about your hair?” my husband keeps asking on a daily basis
And the answer is no. Which is either a credit to Jasmine’s masterful colouring techniques or the fact that no one really gives a shit.

No comments: