Winter’s discontent leads to disaster


This is not the column I intended to write today.
This column should be titled, For Women Only.
There are so many “to dos” on my list of columns to write, but an abrupt change in my life has put them on hold for another time.
Don’t worry. No one else has become ill or passed on (I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I write) but when I tell you what happened, you’ll understand that priorities are involved.
Women are inclined to get restless in the winter. They look at themselves in the mirror and are bored with what they see. Beauty salons are well aware of this trend and prepare for the stampede.
So it was that I, too, became restless. I’ve threatened to have my hair “highlighted” for some time, but the urge really overcame me last week.
I had long hoped to turn “prematurely gray” but that didn’t happen until it could no longer be termed prematurely, and when it did, it made me think of a wild rabbit’s pelt with much dark ticking interspersed with the mousy gray. Except in the back, where there has been a mix of dark auburn – a cruel reminder of how it used to be all over.
I’ve tried dozens of shampoos, all guaranteed to bring out the silver in graying hair. None worked, and I have longed for platinum streaks.
Blessed with naturally curly hair, I’ve been able to steer clear of salons these many years and since my bout with cancer in 1989 I’ve let my locks grow quite long.
I bravely made an appointment with a recommended beautician and even braved icy roads to get there.
We – I’ll call her Mary, which is not her name – looked at various samples of many colors until I found one I decided would look nice, and the deed was about to be done. I explained that I wanted “silver highlights – not blond” and showed her a few natural streaks toward the back.
Mary tucked the cape around me and proceeded to squirt something from a bottle onto my head. I was a little surprised.
“Don’t they use the plastic cap with holes in it to pull the hair through anymore?” I questioned. (Once upon a time, a friend had given me a “frosting” and that’s what she did.)
“Oh no,” Mary said, continuing to soak my entire head with whatever was in the bottle.
I learned later the stuff was bleach, which would remove all the color from my hair but being blissfully ignorant of the process I had no idea what was happening.
Now it was time to sit under a dryer and read a magazine. Every now and then, Mary would come in and “test” to see if the hair was “done.”
When she was satisfied, I enjoyed a good shampoo. Then she put more stuff from a bottle all over my head, and I returned to the dryer. I had no inkling that I was about to undergo a change that would influence my life for months to come.
Out from under the dryer, I glanced in a mirror and shrieked.
“You have made me orange!” but she cheerily assured me it would be fine.
“It just looks like that because it’s wet,” she placated.
I’m sure you know the rest of the story. Had I been more experienced, and had she listened to me, the disaster might have been averted.
This time when I looked in the mirror, I quailed and screamed, “Who is that person?!”
That person was some reddish gold blond, not the old gray mare who just wanted silver highlights in her mane.
“But it makes you look so much younger!” Mary cried as I dashed out the door, my hair still wet.
Now I avoid mirrors as much as possible and when I do pass one, I recoil, and quickly tie a scarf over a head of beautiful hair that is not my hair, and I do not want to find out if it is true that blondes have more fun.
(Of course, after they recover from the shock, all my friends tell me the change is gorgeous and I do look much younger. What else would good friends tell you?)


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.