. . . hair?
This may sound like a silly thing to ask. For people of a certain age, however, men and women both, it’s a real question. It involves what you might call a gray area.
A friend of mine once pointed out the odd fact that so many older men have gray hair, while so many of their wives do not. An unkind male person might make some smart remark here about men’s hair turning gray faster because of the stress of living with women. Of course, all wives know that allegation is as false as a mail-order hairpiece.
It is true, though, that most older guys tend to get gray hair gradually. Women tend not to. Many women, even brunettes, do grow increasingly blonde once they reach their fifties and sixties. A few of them even blossom as redheads. Many of them develop blonde highlights and streaks, which look rather like they’ve been bleached by the sun but which obviously have not been, because middle-aged women know better than to spend that much time out in the sun.
Then suddenly, when they’re maybe in their mid-seventies, a lot of women suddenly turn white overnight. My theory is this results from the shock of waking up one morning and realizing they’re in bed with some old guy with gray hair.
A few women, though, including me, prefer to let nature take its gradual course. Many of us claim the natural graying process is better for our hair. That may even be partially true. We also may just be too lazy to spend a couple of hours in the salon every few weeks. Or too cheap to spend that much money on our hair.
This means we won’t ever startle our friends with overnight color changes. It does, however, leave us with another problem. We don’t necessarily know what color our hair is.
It may be just the new energy-saving light bulbs, but when I look in the mirror in my bathroom, I see a brunette. Yet when I see photos of myself, especially ones taken out in the sunlight, I see a shocking amount of silver. Maybe it’s due to digital photography. Or maybe it’s just the glow of my spiritual aura.
But it makes me wonder. Am I still the brunette I’ve been ever since age two? (Before age two, my hair color wasn’t in question. I didn’t have any hair.) Is my hair gray? Is it salt and pepper? Is it streaked with silver?
What percentage of white hairs mixed in among the brown or black or blonde officially marks the shift to gray? Is there a formula—Grecian or otherwise—for this? At what stage does one’s description change? (Suspect is a white female, five feet four inches tall, 130 pounds, with gray hair. Last seen wearing a tee-shirt with the slogan, “I’m out of estrogen. Put down the chocolate and back away slowly.”)
It’s a good thing a driver’s license, at least in South Dakota, no longer asks for hair color as part of its identifying information. Worrying about how to answer the question could be stressful. It might even give a person gray hair.