My Awful Dye Job: When Bad Decisions Happen to Good People

When I think back to that moment in time, I see it as if it is in slow motion. Oh, for a do-over!

I drove all the way out to Target because the local Walgreens where they know my name (so embarrassing) does not have the color I use.

Now, the color I typically use is not perfect. It is generally a color I like, it covers the gray so-so, and I think it is less damaging but it leaves my hair a little limp for the first couple weeks. Not perfect. But totally fine.

I found it at Target, picked it up and held it in my hand, and then saw a picture on another box and picked that one up, too.

And then I put my regular hair color back on the shelf.

I put it BACK. ON. THE. SHELF.

You are already feeling a sense of fear and dread, aren't you? Good. You should. The question is: Why didn't I?

The girl on the box was so pretty....

I took it home and realized I had just enough time to dye and rinse and throw on clothes and make it to the bus stop to get the kids. I followed the directions to the letter - except the part where you test for sensitivities...and the part where you dye only one strand of hair to see if you like the color - cause that shit is for sissies.

When I emerged from the shower my hair was...what is the right description? Mauve? Orangish mauve? Not a color seen in nature except on an exotic hothouse flower. Or a tropical fish.

Yes. That's it. My head looked like it belonged in a large tank at the Rainforest Café right next to the giant mechanical frog.

No time to lament, though, as I had to throw on clothes so that I could extract the two most honest people in my world from the bus.

Immediately after the wide eyes and gaping mouths and audible gasps came the following:

Bunny: It's, like, orange on the top and purple on the bottom!
Pip: You look WEIRD!
Bunny: It's SO cool! I want that hair! Can I do MY hair orange and purple?!


Clearly something needed to be done.

I took the troops over to the Walgreens. The guy at the counter greeted me by name.

Bunny: (whispering) Mama! How does he know your name? Is he your friend?
Me: NO! He is NOT my friend. He is callously pointing out how often I convenience shop and I am offended. Not really.

There is a product that will remove hair color gone wrong. I bought some.

There is a color that looks like the safe, soft brown of a field mouse. I bought some.

Then I went home and asked Facebook Nation if they thought I should remove the color and re-dye or if I should put the mousy brown over the red and see if I get reddish-brown.

The resulting comments were somewhat terrifying - about my hair falling out and/or turning orange. There was an overwhelming consensus that I should just suck it up and see a professional before my antics made me bald.

I called my lovely Eastern European hairdresser who laughed at me and asked if I could be there in 15 minutes.

She laughed again when she saw my hair. When she regained her composure, she said:

"Is not SO bad..."

"Yes it is. I can't even look at it. It's bad."

"You want more natural. You want little red but more natural. I add brown and make natural."

"Yes. YES!"

"OK. I have to add dark brown to cover. Light brown will not cover what you have done there."

" dark?"

She pointed at some pictures on her postered walls of various hair models sporting EXTREMELY layered, complicated haircuts that I could never pull off in a million years.

"Yeah. Those are pretty dark."

"Nothing else will cover." She laughed again.

"Yeah. OK. OK. Just make it not look like this anymore."

I love the way it feels when someone is doing my hair. I used to babysit a couple little girls who wanted to do nothing but play with my hair for hours. It was heaven. I should have paid THEM.

So relaxing...

Until she turned the chair around, of course, and I resembled Morticia Addams. Then I was NOT relaxed.

"Ooooooooh!" said the hair washer/nail artist guy. "That is WAY more natural!"

In my mind, I said: An avalanche is "more natural" than a nuclear explosion but everybody in the vicinity still dies.

Out loud, I said, "Oh.....OK.....Oh."

She said, "Is very NICE. Is very dark but will lighten up. Three washes. Is the STYLE now!"

Really? It's the style? So are those hipster beards. (Can I just take this opportunity to say that those beards are the ugliest things I have ever seen in my life and every time I see one I think of the wearer as the last person on earth anyone should ever have sex with...until I see the next one and decide that HE is actually the last person that anyone should ever EVER have sex with.)

Sorry. No offense to any readers with ugly ugly hipster beards. I apologize. Now, get shaved.

It's not that this very dark hair color is not beautiful on some people. Amal Alamuddin, the stunning future Mrs. George Clooney, has a gorgeous mane of very dark hair. She is also Lebanese. She would probably look kinda nutty as a redhead.

I, however, am Whitey McCaucasian from Germantown over here and this very dark hair Goth? Not "natural" in the way I meant "natural" when I said "natural" though I suppose I didn't specify and, possibly, there was no lighter color that would cover up the immense coloring blunder that I alone take full credit for. It is really no one's fault but my own.

To her credit, if this was a color I had WANTED, she did a lovely job in giving it to me. The hair is shiny and healthy and the price was good and she threaded my eyebrows while I was there.

This morning, I woke happy. Three minutes later, I remembered my hair color and felt overwhelming dread knowing I would have to get up and look in the mirror at some point soon.

I told this to my boyfriend and he laughed and said, "Listen. You don't look bad. You look different. You look dark and mysterious and a little bit tougher - like nobody should give you any shit."

That actually is not at all a bad thing for me right now. Nobody SHOULD give me any shit, damnit!

I asked if he thought I should go back to my old style of cargo pants and combat boots and he said he didn't think that would be inappropriate at this point.

So I got up and looked in the mirror. The shock was less devastating with one day of nearly-black hair under my belt. (no...there's no hair literally under my belt...I mean, you know, I've lived with this hair on my head for a day...ugh...whatever)

The good news is that my eyebrows, which have always been darker than my hair - even before I ever started dying, now match what is on my head.

And, you know, everything is temporary.

And I was just about to give away an old pair of combat boots but now it makes sense to keep them. That saves me a trip to the Goodwill. So...yeah...there's a win right there.

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