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Confession of an aging writer

Phyllis Humby's picture
Tue, 10/01/2013 - 09:00 -- Phyllis Humby

Please don't think less of me. I lie. No, not about everything. My age mostly. I've always lied about my age. Way back when, it was such a kick the way I looked older. That was so cool. Little did I know that after I turned thirty, looking older than my age was not so cool.

Since this is a confession, I might as well be brutally honest. Glancing in the mirror can still catch me off guard. Sometimes I can't stop myself from pulling back the loose skin until my jowls disappear. That makes my eyes look slightly misshapen but my face looks more like it used to, I think. Like Bette Davis said, 'Getting old ain't for sissies'.

A blonde since my teens, I had this crazy urge to discover the true colour of my hair. My friends gave me the 'this is a big mistake' look. But I explained that it takes a lot of energy to be a perky blonde. It was the conception for years that blondes have more fun. Well, I wasn't sure if I needed all that fun anymore. Besides, perky was no longer a good fit.

My stylist, unable to change my mind, hacked off my hair to a spiky length to ease the transition. To my surprise and delight, my hair grew in totally grey. No one but me liked it. Not my husband. Not my friends. I asked my son if he liked my new colour. He looked at my hair before saying, 'Why? Did you change it?' So much for that.

Months later, I could tell that my husband still hadn't accepted the grey. I asked my hairdresser for a few dark streaks for interest sake. Something to spruce up the grey hair that I loved. She nodded her head as if she understood what I wanted. She didn't have a ##$% clue. Streaks? There were no streaks. When she was finished, my hair was near black – every strand.

Let me tell you the worst of the situation. I'd lectured every woman within earshot that grey hair was natural and beautiful, and women should not obsess over a younger image. It was far better to age gracefully with shining silver hair. We were middle-aged women, after all. Blah, blah, blah. Yep, I got all high falutin' about it. Because of me, some women were strutting around au naturel. Now with my dyed hair, I couldn't look anyone in the eye. Traitor! How could I face them? Wearing a hat and scarf, that's how. Utterly traumatized, I apologized for my look to absolute strangers. Cashiers at the grocery store. The receptionist at the vet's office.

Returning to the hair salon, I demanded my grey hair back. The stylists stood around my chair looking from one to the other. They told me there was nothing they could do. Besides, no one actually wants grey hair. I hated the way they looked at each other and then back at me like I was nuts. I grit my teeth, found a new hairdresser, shampooed daily, and exposed my hair to the sun. Finally what remained were streaks of different colours−with grey roots.

When it eventually grew out – or in – however you look at it, my new hairdresser, Giulia, suggested lowlights.  Finally, somebody who got it – somebody who knew what I wanted.  Grey shot with colour. Now the women I meet say 'wish my grey would grow in like that'. Me too, I tell them.

Perhaps with this softer look I even appear a bit younger. I know I feel younger. Of course, I continue to lie about my age. Only now I make sure to add a few years to my age. Enough years to make them gush 'You look marvellous, dear.'

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