There comes a time in every woman’s life when you look in the mirror and face the truth. 

It’s not just a few stray strands.  You’re going gray.

“I’m thinking of dyeing my hair,” I told my mother, so she could reassure me it was completely unnecessary.

“Good idea,” she said.

That weekend I met Lady Clairol.

I put on an old t-shirt and began one of the medium-level bizarre female beauty rituals.  (More bizarre than lipstick, less than a bikini wax.)

I donned a pair of too big flimsy plastic gloves that tore at the slightest provocation. 

I mixed two chemicals together, helpfully labeled with a gigantic “1” and “2” on the bottles.  The first is the Color Enhancing Cream, and the second is the Color Activator.  I squeezed bottle “1” into bottle “2” and shook-shook-shook.  The two white chemicals turned a hopefully-natural-looking brown and emitted an unpleasant smell.

I hadn’t made this kind of reaction since playing with my childhood chemistry set, but it was so far, so good.

I squeezed the concoction onto my hair and rubbed it in.  It was around this time that I read the directions imploring the user to do an allergy test forty-eight hours before use.


Could they make the font any smaller?

I didn’t know what the allergy test entailed, but seeing as the combined contents of bottles “1” and “2” were all over my head, it was too late now.  I hoped the mild burning on the edge of my forehead was normal and not indicative of oncoming second degree burns.

Twenty minutes and a rinse later and voila!  I was young again.

I put my glasses back on and when I could see again things went downhill.

The trouble with hair dye is that it doesn’t just dye your hair.  It dyes everything it touches.

I thought I’d been careful, but the brown spots around the bathroom looked like brown blood spatter under a blacklight after a particularly vicious murder.

Frantically I wiped spots from the mirror, the sink, the floor.

I had dye on my forehead, my forearms, even on my knee.  I scrubbed against the clock, and I was proud of myself when I got every last spot.

Or so I thought.

I turned around and there it was.  Two brown smears across my white wooden bathroom door. 

Major Oops

Nothing worked.  Not scrubbing, not Magic Eraser, not nail polish remover.

So the day after Christmas, while the rest of the world shopped, I took the door into my garage and painted.  And painted.  And painted.

It took five coats to cover the spots.

But you know what?

My hair looks damn good.

Not a gray in sight.