I was drifting off one evening while watching a movie on the couch as G.C. absentmindedly ran his fingers through my hair. Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, though, I became aware that his gentle strokes had turned into a movement more like aggressive foraging. I roused myself and as nicely as I could, asked him what the hell he was doing.
"You have a lot of gray hairs, girlfriend," he said, swiftly and without emotion, using his nickname for me. He continued to explore. I pressed pause on the movie and racked my memory. With a small start, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I dyed my hair. My secret was out.
I also no longer remember the discovery of my very first gray hair, but I do remember when I realized I had jumped from the just-for-fun dyeing I did throughout high school and college (miss you, Sunset Blaze) to need-to-do-this-for-real coloring. It was during my first and only trip to the Hamptons. Standing in front of the mirror getting ready to go out, I noticed a run of tiny silver roots down the entire center of my head.
Horrified, I started to pluck. Twelve to 15 hairs later, I realized I’d be half-bald if I kept going. As calmly as I could, I asked my friend Kate to confirm if it was as bad as I feared. To her everlasting credit, she simply replied, "Oh ... yes," dipped into her makeup bag, and proceeded to apply mascara down my entire part.
About a year after that, I met G.C. Though I didn’t love discovering that I was going gray in my mid-20s, I wasn’t necessarily trying to hide it, either. However, I had apparently managed to for almost two years. Oops!
I turned. “Yes, boyfriend,” I said, chin high. “I DO have a lot of gray hairs. I dye them. I guess I never told you that?” I phrased it as a question even though I already knew the answer.
“No, you didn’t,” he said and he contemplated it for a moment. Then, he pushed my head down a little and brought his eyes close, like a scientist peering into a microscope. “Did you ever think of growing them out?” he finally asked.
I started to reply, “No, I don’t think I’m there yet, I’m only 28 years...” but he barrelled on. “You should. You would look just like Storm from X-Men.”
I stopped for a second, trying to remember the Storm character. The image slid into place. “I don’t think if I grew my gray hairs out that I’d look like Halle Berry. But that’s sweet of you.”
“No you wouldn’t look like her at all in the face or body,” he said in a tone that conveyed ‘world’s most obvious thing.’ “Just your head would.”
I couldn’t necessarily argue, but I wasn’t sure how to respond either. He remained undeterred as his eyes and fingers stayed trained on my scalp. “You know who you could also look like? Helen Mirren.”
Again, I was somewhat confused. “Helen Mirren?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “She’s super sexy. You’d look like her.”
“But not really,” I countered. “Helen Mirren has that whole ‘sexy older woman who can teach you things you never knew’ thing going on. I don’t think I can do that using only gray hairs. I’m missing the other half of the equation.”
“We could work around that,” he replied.
“I just think we can.”
“This would be a turn-on for you? For me to look like Helen Mirren?”
“Of course it would!”
I really had no reply. While the good girlfriend in me wanted to oblige his request, I didn’t think this particular inclination was mutually beneficial.
“I don’t know,” I finally said. “I think I’m too young to have my gray hairs totally grown out just yet.” I gave him a small shrug.
He fixed me with a stare and a small frown. “Think about it,” he said, and took the remote from my hands to start the movie again.
Previously: Every Line and Wrinkle.
Lia LoBello works in public relations and marketing by day, but spends her nights crafting, cooking, and watching real-crime television. She blogs about her projects and recipes at YayDIY. She lives in Astoria, Queens, with her boyfriend G.C. and her dog, Pelusa.