Painted Pony

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My life needed some pizzazz . . . yeah pizzazz; something to brighten it up, bring some sparkle into it. But when you’re feeding and housing two kids on nine hundred dollars a month, it’s hard to whip up pizzazz, brightness, and sparkle; even if back in the ’80s when money went further. Romantic trips to the Bahamas were out because I had to budget even trips to the store, and all the romance in my life consisted of rude remarks from dirty old men when I walked through crosswalks. Wild spending sprees were out unless you count the time Cheryl Stanfield and I and all four of the kids went to the Canned Foods Depot and I spent thirty-two whole dollars on cans with foreign labels (Now, is that wild abandon or what!). What did that leave? Hair! Every woman knows that when all else fails, when the heart is broken, the exchequer is de-checked, the world is grey, and every friend has departed, there is always HAIR.

Hair can be changed. You can cut it. You can put it up, take it down. Wash it. Curl it. Straighten it. Color it as black as your blighted dreams or as shiny gold as your brightest hopes. Instantly! Make the future come to you! Make the past disappear! It doesn’t take a million dollars or good luck, or the anointing love of a prince. All it takes is a pair of nail scissors or a couple of bobby pins and a box of hair color. Voila! Instantaneous ent’re to a new world of possibilities.

Being a forward-thinking young woman, I decided to highlight my dull brown hair as I hoped to highlight my dull brown life. It may have even said that on the box. I read every promise of prettiness on the shelf of the local drugstore three times and chose the next-to-the-cheapest. I hurried home and then put off by beautification until after the kids were asleep. Fewer interruptions that way. Fewer explanations.

I consulted with Cheryl and locked the bathroom door. The instructions were clear and I read them twice and then skimmed them a time or two as I followed them. Highlighting wasn’t hard at all, although the waiting for results was. When I washed the gunk out, I couldn’t see any real difference at all. Maybe I hadn’t been patient enough. That’s me. Always impatient. There was still a lot of the gunk left so I artfully dabbed it on, swearing to wait longer this time. Not so different from when my friend Nancy and I used to put lemon in our hair when we used to lay out and tan in the tenth grade. But maybe I was putting new gunk on old already-gunked places and it would burn it all off if I waited the whole twenty minutes. Maybe I should wash it all off before I turned bald. Maybe thirty minutes on some spots and ten minutes on others would give uneven results. Maybe.

My newly cut, conditioned, and highlighted hair was amazing. Parted on the left I looked like one of the Beach Boys after their sunniest summer, brilliant blond. Parted on the right, my hair had streaks of brown and bright brassy peroxide orange, sort of like a calico cat. Parted in the middle I looked like nothing so much as a friendly pie-bald pony. The kindest my friends could muster up was,” Oh, you did your hair! (It was obvious I would have stopped anyone else from doing this to me).” Or a tentative “New haircut?” (“No, just an old mistake I’m re-cycling!”). It took months and months for that highlighting to grow out and I refused to dye it back to dull brown. Other than the fact that it would probably all fall out, it seemed to me a very good joke, on me.

Needless to say, I did not change my life with my new hair. The pie-bald pony and the calico cat grew out without my having forced the hand of fate in any way. Not too long after, I met a fine guy and we married. By the way, in the years since, I’ve met a prince, but he’d been exiled. I went on a romantic trip to the Bahamas, accompanied by (sigh) a good friend. I’ve learned to laugh at my expectations and live in the moment. Enjoy NOW



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