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.”









219. He’s not me; I’m not him; are you you?

So a month or so back I received a voicemail on a Friday afternoon from a national radio station person. Not NPR but close. The message giver said, “This is so and so from blank of blank radio network. My boss is interested in talking to you about doing a weekly radio show. If you are interested, call him at ….”  Well, of course I wondered what was up with such a message. I tried to figure out what sort of scam it might be. Maybe if you call the number mentioned, they would sign you up for a Master Card or some charity or other. Maybe it was a sting operation by the IRS to snag tax deadbeats who were grandiosely narcissistic.  I deleted it.

Then a week ago the same guy called with the same message. I decided to investigate a bit, so I Googled the entity and sure enough the two names I was given were both represented in the website. It seemed legitimate, but who in his right mind would want me on a radio show? Did someone stumble across my blog and find it exotically interesting? Or ridiculously stupid? If so, why not just comment on-line?  I  mentioned it to my daughters who assumed that someone somewhere somehow found me interesting, and that I should at least call back. So I did. I left a generally vague response that I’d be glad to talk to him, the network director.

The next day I missed his return phone call from Phoenix. “Well, this is getting interesting”, I thought. Again I tried to piece together some reason why anyone would want to listen to me? Could one of my former clients have recommended me? Perhaps a former student? In this world wide web generation anything is possible.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in full lassitude, full of indolent indifference, with my family admiring my granddaughter when my phone vibrated in my left pocket. It was the radio guy. I took the call in the next room, not knowing what to expect. The program director introduced himself and I did the same.  He asked me if I was familiar with his operation. I mentioned that I’d Googled the website. “Good, good”, he replied. I asked him bluntly why he was interested in me?  Scott (his real name) asked if I’d be interested in doing a one hour weekly radio show, as in hosting one.

I was confused and told him so. “How did you get hold of me and why would you want me to host a national/international radio show?” He told me that his research assistants had recommended me to him. “For what?” I inquired. “Public speaking,  interviewing folks in your field, you know, stuff like that.” I pushed for sanity one more time, ” I live in Turtle Town, USA. I do private practice counseling. I’m a retired teacher. What would the market be for that?”   We had reached the tipping point of our brief conversation.

“You are _____________ G. __________________, aren’t you?”

“Uh, no. I am _____________________ F. _______________________.”

“Oh, well, have you ever thought about doing a weekly radio show?”

“No, I’m pretty content with my life as it is. I think the guy you’re looking for lives in Michigan. He writes books with his wife. I’ve been confused with him before. I do write a blog, though.”

“Okay, then, thanks for your time and good luck. Bye.”


Was I relieved or crushed?

My daughter and wife asked, “So what’s the deal?”

“Misidentification. My celebrity was prematurely birthed and died on delivery. I feel like Joel’s mule…unrequited.”

“Oh, that’s okay. You still have… um, I mean, you can still work in the public when you retire… or something. You could be a crossing guard for your grandkids like Uncle Steve.”

“Yes, there’s that. But my FM dj voice, my Bob Dylan impersonation, my Barry White solos, my puns. All gone forever. My Lou Rawls, “You’re gonna miss, you’re gonna miss, you’re gonna miss my lovin'”.

“Dad, you’re being dramatic.”

“So?  I could have been a contender. A measly initial kept me out of the big time.”

“Why don’t you call him back and audition?”

“Nah, this is like my class ring that I lost in England in 1974. It makes a better story than if I’d ever worn the thing.”

“Seriously, what would you have talked about? No, wait. Talking about things that don’t exist, like the missing letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, has never been a problem for you. It’s better this way, Dad.”

“You’re right. Let us never speak of this again.”