249. Dye to Self

Yesterday my wife overdyed her hair, which she can pull off, by the way, cuz she’s a looker, which begs the question, “Was it too much or not?”. It was darker brown than she had hoped for, okay? Not wanting to be mistaken as her father, I decided to strike out on my own hairdressing trail.  Her bottle reminded me that I  had another box of hair dye, REAL BLACK is what the label said. It was the old kind I noticed as I unpacked the base and color bottles and the plastic gloves. I had been using the premixed stuff with the little comb applicator for the past couple of limpid years, but I forged ahead with this old technology. I worked the goopy cream in, following the directions, assuming that it would simply darken my gray from a light ash to medium charcoal. But when I finished my shower, I toweled off and looked in the mirror. It was ELVIS black. No!! Wayne Newton even!! I had not a single gray or white hair to be seen. Too much of a good thing looks creepy. Even Mitt Romney knew this.

I put on a hat when we went out to lunch later and I did some shopping. I was hoping not to see anyone who knew me well. I felt a bit uncomfortable with the new look. Not quite as bad as having a face tattoo or a bone piercing my nose, but a bit off my usual stride. Something had to give soon. I’m just too dark. My wife said I looked 15 years younger. I wish. No, I was sure I looked like the 80 year old letch with shoe polish hair who asks young women to dance through his loose dentures. I did not want to be that age spotted guy with suspenders holding his saggy pants up, revealing white socks above high gloss black shoes. What a nightmare.

After consulting Google for undying hair recipes, I washed my hair again twice with baking soda and shampoo. Nothing. We went to our usual Saturday dance and the world did not end. It was dark. People drank moderately and focused on their dance steps. We survived. The tough group would be the church crowd the next day under fluorescent lights. To complicate matters, we had to turn the clocks back this very night. I was not so much worried about the bad dye job but about having no good verbal responses to those who might comment on my time warp hair color.

In the morning I realized that I had one decent response. I imagined a congenial congregant commenting.

“Did you color your hair?”  To which I would reply…

“Actually I turned the clocks back last night and BAM! It was 1999 again. I got up this morning and BOOM! My  hair was dark again. How about that?”  No one noticed, which was a little disappointing. Perhaps if I go to church naked next week…no. Once you ring a bell, be it in church or the courthouse, you cannot unring it. Just like this dye job, I’d just have to outgrow it.

When I was teaching years ago, I had to be careful whenever I put color in my hair. Seventh graders don’t miss any opportunity to expound on anything out of the ordinary. I was careful to only color my hair over breaks or vacations, and then with semitransparent color. Even with such diligence on my part, I would inevitably be outed.

“Mr. Burrito, did you dye your hair?”

Now a bigger man might have resorted to honesty, but I concocted a thin fable to confound the immature questioners.

“You won’t believe me. It was sort of miraculous what occurred, but never mind…”

“Sure we will. What happened?”

“Well, I was walking down the beach this summer when a storm came up. There was wind and lightning, but I walked on unafraid.”

“You shouldn’t do that. You could be hit by lightning.”

“Exactly. That’s what happened. I was hit directly by what the EMT’s estimated was a 2 million watt bolt of lightning.”

“Really? No, you’re lying.”

“I can’t force you to believe. But when I was recovering in the Emergency Room, I noticed that my hair was a shade darker. I mentioned this to the doctors. They told me that sometimes this happens to victims of severe lightning strikes– it’s a reverse aging process due to the extreme ionization of the carbon particles commonly found in hair.  They assured me this would stop over time and I’d go back to the regular aging curve within six months.”

“So what does that mean?”

“It means that my hair is unnaturally darker than it should be for a man my age. So to answer your original question, Yes, I do color my hair by adding a touch of gray to it. Cuz it’s just creepy looking to have jet black hair when you’re in my demographic.”

“Nooo… Really?”

Like I said, they were not a tough crowd to fool.

So, after the sermon was preached in church, we went to Sunday School class where I was certain Jerry or DJ would bust my shady look. Not a peep. I was ready with the turn back time line and a bad Cher impersonation.

Nope. Completely Unnecessary. And then I had a spiritual comment come to me while I meditated on my personal vanity.

“Did you dye your hair?”

“Actually, I dyed to self, just beginning with my hair. I am beginning a daily devotional and a journal for my hairdressing journey.”

“I’m sorry I asked.”

“Oh, I’m not. I’m grateful that someone noticed and that I was fully prepared to give my testimony.”

“You know the actual verb is ‘die’ in that verse, ‘die to self” don’t you?”

“Yeah, okay. And your point?”

“…and you are making this all about your self, right?”

“Yeah, Uh, but, um, aren’t you being a bit self righteous?”

“Dude, I’m bald. It’s over for me. You need help.”

“Thanks, man.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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247. Inversions

Invert–verb (used with object)

1. to turn upside down.
2. to reverse in position, order, direction, or relationship.
3. to turn or change to the opposite or contrary, as in nature, bearing, or effect:

to invert a process.
4. to turn inward or back upon itself.
5. to turn inside out.
 

It’s 76 degrees Fahrenheit on the second floor of my office building here on October 27.  Cold Canadian air is due in a few days. Like a bookie I owe betting losses to, he’s coming in around the freezing point on Friday night to hurt me and force me to comply with his cruel will.  Frost will settle in by Friday night, and I’m not talking about poets. I can feel it like dogs can sense earthquakes before humans do. It’s coming with an urgency that will shiver our Mid Atlantic butts into winter jackets and coats and corduroy pants, uttering “Ahhhs” as we find our way into warm dry interiors. You know, at first flip flops were summer sandals before they became political reversals.  When folks change positions, we say they flip-flopped. This sudden temperature inversion will be a meteorological flip flop of seasons in a week. You don’t argue with cold fronts or tornadoes or floods or tsunamis. You just surf them out as best you can and hopefully you survive. You just have to turn on the furnace and bunker down, my downy blog peeps. We’ll get through this winter with good books and music, warm conversations over hot cider and coffee, and hearty meals with happy dogs curled underneath the dinner table. That sounds delightful and yet doubtful at the same time.

And this weekend we play with time again, turning our clocks back an hour. Why? Because Congress thinks it’s a great idea for the economy. Think about that for a minute:  the most untrustworthy weasels in the country set the clocks twice a year and tell us it’s a good, no, a great idea. Originally this time change was designed to help farmers maximize available daylight. Uh, how many farmers do you know? The ones I see working during harvest time drive combines and trucks with headlights. Hmmm. Trust Congress?

 Trust me. Don’t they tell the truth when they’re not lying? So do mimes.

 

It’s funny how screwed up people get as the seasons change. This morning I went to a supervision meeting at 9 a.m. No one was home. It started without me at 9:30 a.m.  But I’d given up on the meeting when one of the guys left a voicemail for me telling me he was going to be 20 minutes late to my house, where the meeting was not. I then got settled at my office when the meeting host called me to see if I was on my way to his house. I told him I was there already at 9; no one answered the doorbell so I left. He said he got to his own house at 9:06. (What do you do? Laugh, cry, scream. )  I chuckled and sauntered off to the coffee shop for a longer and deeper conversation with Joel, the resident decaffeinated attorney. He asked me to consider how many other appointments and dates I’d missed in my life,  which was not reassuring nor was it meant to be. (Attorneys live in the land of potential liability and what ifs.) I told him I did not care, that it all comes out in the wash eventually. But he insisted that I could have been famous if I had met my destiny earlier and not missed the weekly opportunity meetings along the way. I sensed he was massaging me to ask for a contribution to one of the many charities he serves.  Like an inverted Bill Clinton, he said, “I feel your pain.”  I said, “Billy Joel, that’s my knee.” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my 7p.m. appointment had already come to my office at 7a.m. God only knows what other appointments were missed or dyslexically rearranged by 10 a.m. on this, the last warm day of fall. I tell you, it’s coming like a new born glacier calf flailing down a fractured fjord.

I can feel it coming unglued. Last night my Washington Redskins beat the overrated Dallas Cowboys in the JerryDome on Monday Night Football, in overtime no less. It was awesome to see a beat up third string team defeat a highly touted first string team on their own field. Oh the inversions are everywhere I looked. You can’t pick out winners and losers, blog casters; you just have to play the game or let the weather do what it must.  Let me insert a slide to demonstrate how irrational inversions seem to be.

 You see, it makes little sense for warm air, which is lighter and should rise, to trap cool air beneath it and keep Mr. Sunshine hidden. However, if you fumble the ball or throw interceptions, Mr. Romo, an inversion occurs and the Red team marches the other way against the Blue team. Even in the colossal spectacle of the JerryDome, the modern day gladiatorial Cowboys were defeated by the rag tag, politically incorrect Redskins and their third string quarterback. Ooooh, that stings.
And now the crescendo inversion. I found a Peruvian 50 centimos coin in my pocket change last week as I fed the evil coin eating parking meter. It’s the same size as a U.S. quarter and that’s what I  thought it was until I noticed the different details. Huh. It appears to be silver like U.S. coins used to be. I’m keeping it for good luck. Perhaps I’ll drill it and make a necklace out of it. Chic inversion that.
So, don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour this Sunday at 2:00 a.m. Put an extra blanket on your bed. Never trust lawyers,  politicians or Jerry Jones. And may you find your own lucky charm this winter. Till next spring, invert something.

 

12. timelessly

Days like these are harried– run, run, run so that you can sprint later on. Faster and faster we hurtle forward into the faster and faster life of breaking bonds– speed, gravity, religion, family, friendships. All my life, records have been broken… man in space, man on the moon, man with a heart transplant, faster internet speeds, faster computers, faster news reporting, faster wealth, faster wars. And where is the counterbalance? Has anything become slower or calmer? Nope.

I can recall being a kid and lying on my back watching clouds go by. Occasionally a prop plane would drone overhead. I’d walk between cool sheets drying on a laundry line on a hot summer’s day and think ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to go fast?’ Things going fast were desirable then. No one could have imagined the frenzied pace of life fifty years later. Well, maybe New Yorkers could have, but freckled suburban kids digging in the dirt with their mothers’ sterling silver spoons did not. They (I actually) just marveled at the black oxidization on the shiny spoon as I dug in the orange clay.

In the early 60’s Television had three or four channels; black and white! horrors!!!  and then really blurry color came later. No remote controllers either.And it was free, no monthy cable or dish payments. Baseball was the nation’s past time. It moved slowly and went into extra innings often enough. There was no sudden death rule, but games were often carried over to the next day when a double header would be necessary to finish the previous day’s game.  (Life was leaner and simpler like Johnny Cash songs. He was the white man who called himself “the man in black”, just like black and white t.v. Like a modern John the Baptist.) People were not so rushed. Sleek airports and superhighways were being built to hurtle us along, but they were novel then. Now they are expected to be all that and the awe has been replaced with impatience. We have become a nation of speed junkies.

Back in the day stores gave stamps as rewards for doing business with them. Housewives (they went extinct in the late 60’s) would collect these and turn in completely filled up books for electric toasters or can openers. Do you know how long it would take the average housewife to gather 800 yellow or green stamps when groceries cost a fraction of what they do today? A year maybe. And all throughout that year she’d look longingly at the many other things she could redeem with her stamps. Oh delayed gratification!

Image result for s and h green stamps pictures

And there were other slow payback deals in grocery stores. You could collect the greatest classical music ever recorded for $.99 per lp if you bought your groceries at certain stores. (LP stood for long playing record album, by the way.) There were other methodical programs where you could buy encyclopedias each week or collect plates or glasses. All these programs were tedious exercises in delayed gratification from this modern perspective, but they were awesome marketing tricks then.

If you try to pour a 2 liter bottle of soda into a shot glass, you will spill all but 2 ounces. Maybe that’s cool to do once for giggles, but it is an insane proposition– pouring too much into too little, and yet this is what we do daily. Plug 26 hours into 24. Shave sleep. “Hey, sleep when you’re dead.” Multitask. Smoke, talk on the phone, do your make up, drive. I saw a bread delivery truck driver this morning eating a bowl of cereal as he drove through town. He balanced the bowl with the spoon in it in his left hand as he drove the big truck over a hump with his right hand and knees. He did it with such skill that it was clear to me that this was not his maiden milk management voyage.Image result for overflowing shot glass pictures

Like entitlement programs, fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and bad marriages, speedy lifestyles become unsustainable. And not just for old geezers like me, but for the young and spry among the population. Mindlessly run, run, run into timelessness. Don’t mind if I do.Image result for grave pictures