Green Hair Day
Glowing when you don’t want to
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
I know it’s the style to dye your hair a color God never thought of, like hot pink or royal blue or K&B purple or whatever. I also know you got to be a certain age to carry it off. Whatever age that is, I am older.
But here I am with green hair. Not olive green. Not even emerald green. NEON green. Glow-in-the-dark, scare-you-in-the-graveyard green.
I got to explain. It ain’t like I did this to recapture my misspent youth or nothing. What happened was, my little grandson’s school needed a green-haired witch for their party on Halloween, and he volunteered me.
I could have gotten a cheap wig, but my high-school daughter Gladiola found some neon dye at a costume shop that will be more dramatic, she says. Also, it washes right out, she says. She is right about the first part: it is dramatic. With that hair, plus some face paint and a few fake warts, I scare the bejesus out of them kindergarteners. I think I shook up the teacher, too.
That evening, I scrub off the face paint and warts, and me and my gentleman friend Lust stroll around the Quarter. My hair glows, and the streetlights reflect off his bald head — very romantic. Gladiola is sleeping over at a friend’s, so we make quite a night of it.
The next day is All Saints Day. I wake up late, jump in the shower, wash my hair, and rush to meet my mother-in-law at church, like I promised. “You got green hair, ” she hisses, when I kneel down. “It’s the light from the stained glass window,” I hiss. “They don’t allow that color in church,” she hisses back.
Well, after church, my hair is still green, and there ain’t no stained glass around. Thank God I live in the Quarter, where there are plenty of people not acting their age, so I fit in with the scenery.
The thing is, I got a temporary job next week. Uptown.
I am filling in for my sister-in-law Larva while she takes a cruise. Larva is a receptionist at very respectable insurance company, M.T. Promisses. She says I don’t have to do much —just sit behind the desk and look respectable. But her boss, Mr. Promisses, won’t consider neon hair respectable.
Still, this is Wednesday and I start Monday. Four days to get the green out.
Normally, I would call my friend Awlette, who owns Hairy Problems Beauty Salon, but she is in Texarkana, doing everybody’s coiffure for her niece’s wedding, and up to her neck in hysterical bridesmaids. I got to handle this myself.
I try everything I find on Google. I wash my hair in vinegar; Epsom Salts; lemon juice; baking soda. Nothing works.
Saturday, Larva comes over and we try this procedure where I coat my head in ketchup; wrap a plastic bag around it while Larva bakes it with a hair dryer, and then peel off the plastic bag and submerge my head in ice water.
When we are done, I smell pretty good, if you like McDonald’s.
But my hair is still green.
Ok. I could claim I am Muslim instead of Catholic and wear a hijab, but that would probably be a sin in TWO religions. A wig would have to be expensive enough to fool Mr. Promisses. He don’t approve of wigs, neither.
Then Gladiola strolls into the room. It is noon, which is early for her to be up on a Saturday. She asks what’s going on. Evidently she hasn’t noticed I been washing my hair for three days.
After I tell her, in a lot of loud words, she goes into the bathroom and comes back with the box the hair dye came in. She takes out a second bottle.
“This is the clarifier, Ma,” she says. “The what?” “The antidote.”
And would you believe, when I wash it with the clarifier, it ain’t green no more.
How did Gladiola know? “I read the directions on the box,” she tells me.
I guess you got to be a certain age to do that, too.