Orange Hair

It's Saturday, let me tell you a story.

My brother and I were playmates by necessity, rather than by choice.  Being just 20 months apart, with the closest sibling a huge six years away, we often found ourselves trying to force each other to do what the other person said all the time.  At least, we were that way until about my senior year in high school, when we discovered that we made better allies than enemies.

We were lucky enough to one day hear the words all teenage children hope to hear from their parents:  "We're going out of town.  And no, we're not taking you with us."


My parents, however, were of the "strict" persuasion, especially since my dad's employer was, well, God, and also because my older brother "strayed" by getting a woman (now his wife) pregnant at the ripe old age of nineteen.  Sam and I had little freedom, and were often interrogated on the where, when, why and how of our excursions with our friends.

So when the 'rents announced they'd be leaving us alone for an entire week, I mean, we were sorta stoked?  But they made it more than clear that a) there were to be NO people our age into the house while they were gone and b) they'd be sending trusted advocates from the church to check in on us regularly.  Awesome.

We went the whole week and were actually quite well behaved in their absence, with only one attempt at sneaking some friends in (it was quickly thwarted by the 5 o'clock chaperone my parents had scheduled).  But soon, it was the eve of the road trip that we were to take to join our parents in upstate New York for the second week of their vacation, and we were both itching to do...something. 

And what do good Baptist children do when they want to be bad, but also don't want to be murdered by the Lord or their parents?  Well, they dye their hair, of course!

The obvious choice for the make-over was Sam.  I'd already colored my hair several times by then, so another time wouldn't be all that "bad."  We went to the pharmacy and picked up a color for him and headed home to do our damage.

We put half the bottle of color in and...nothing.  DAMMIT!  You mean, we were good alllll week, and our one super lame attempt at rebellion was yielding NOTHING?

That's okay...I had a solution.

I found a bottle of laundry bleach and mixed about half a cup of it with some shampoo, which I proceeded to lather aggressively onto Sam's head.

"It burns!" he said.

"Pain is beauty!" I said.

We left it in for twenty minutes, then rinsed it out.  Still...nothing.  Weird. 

So we tried the rest of the dye, one last time. 

Twenty minutes later, Sam's hair was the color  Literally orange.  Not like a bronze-y red that might look nice on an actual human being.  ORANGE. 

And lo, we loved it.  Sam was BITCHIN'.

We went to school next day to much applause, teenagers with horrible fashion sense cheering at the outcome.  It felt nice to do SOMETHING, even though it was, yes, a very, very tame something.

We got in the car after school and began the long, twelve hour drive to meet our parents in upstate New York.  After a few hours, we mostly forgot that Sam's hair was orange.  It was as if his hair had always been that way.  In fact, the color suited him well, and his blue eyes popped against the contrasting hue.

We rolled in to the hotel late that evening, now having completely forgotten about our little rebellion, and ready for food and sleep.  We carted our luggage into the room our parents had been using for the past week, tired from our drive and wanting to hit the hay.

As we pushed the door open, we heard an audible gasp.  Our parents had seen Sam's hair, and they were horrified.

Now, you might think that they'd be horrified that the hair was simply ridiculous looking.  But, in fact, that was not their concern at all.

My mom drew in a great lungful of air.  "You look like a HOMOSEXUAL!" she said, staring at her youngest son in horror. 

"Son," my dad said, "What. Did you. Do."

"We dyed it?" I said, not quite understanding the adverse reaction.

"We've been in BOSTON all week!" my mom said.  "And THAT is the way the HOMOSEXUALS there do their hair!"

"We are very disappointed in you," my dad said.

I couldn't argue.  I mean, at that time in my life I knew approximately zero HOMOSEXUALS, so it was entirely possible that they all did sport bright orange coiffures.  But...really?  I mean, was it THAT bad?

I guess it was.  My mom took Sam to a barber the next morning, where his head was shaved.  Then, she bought a bottle of "normal" colored hair dye and took him back to "not orange."  The rest of the weekend was spent giving us lectures on trust, how boys "should" look, and yes, the HOMOSEXUALS in Boston.

My parents aren't bad people, though I often find myself wishing they'd be a little more open minded.  I have to laugh when I think of this story from my past, because what the fuck else can I do?  I guess it's a testament to the person I've strived to become that I can find it humorous.  There will always be people who can't handle deviation from their personal "norm", people who associate a "look" with a way of life, and people who just don't like orange hair.  That's okay.  I'd like it to be different, sure, but at least I can look back and say, "We tried, we had fun, we failed miserably."  And that's okay, too.