Saturday, May 12, 2007

But I don't have any freckles

I have red hair. I was born with it. It's been changed to just about every color of the rainbow at one time or another, but it is naturally red.

As a kid, everywhere I went, some old guy would invariably call me "Red" or "Carrot Top" which pissed me off. Even at 8 years old, I had no tolerance for elderly smartasses.

"'Bet she has a real temper, that one", some smarmy retiree would quip at my Mom while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Well, wouldn't you if you couldn't go anywhere without someone pointing out the painfully obvious?

People were fascinated by it. They would ask which side of the family it came from, then share some story about how their Great-Great Aunt on their Mother's side had red hair. I couldn't help but roll my eyes and pull on my Mom's arm to get the fuck out of there.

As I got older I grew to hate my natural born locks. I felt like some kind of freak. No one I knew had red hair, and we all know that when you've been saddled with a genetic rarity such as this, kids can and will be cruel.

It didn't help any that I was a really ugly kid. Oh, good times....

We also happened to live in southern California at the time, and in addition to having the pelo roja I was as pasty as the driven snow.

I remember idolizing Cyndi Lauper and Annie Lennox back in the day. Not because of their talent, but because they had red hair. I wasn't quite clued into the fact that theirs wasn't natural. I begged my Mother to shave a checkerboard in the side of my 'do like Ms. Lauper or crop it ultra-short like Annie. She gave me a horrified "no", and I was stuck with the long in the back/feathered sides and top (pretty much a longer version of a mullet). Hey, it was the early 80's! I know--still not a good excuse.

Later in my early teens, I was asked if the "curtains matched the drapes". It took me a few times of laughing uncomfortably with a puzzled look on my face before I was filled in on what that meant. Nothing like asking a 13 year old what color her pubic hair is. Classy.

A few years later I was introduced to the phrase "redheaded stepchild". I didn't know what it meant (honestly, I still don't) but I sensed it wasn't good.

After moving away from home, I experimented with an array of shades. I was every color from the whitest blond to the blackest black. Throw in a few shades of purple, blue and an unfortunate kelly green stint and my hair had seen it all.

And that was before I went to beauty school.

And then it happened. I made peace with my cranial hue.

One summer day, I was walking around campus minding my own damn business when a car full of frat boys zoomed by. One hung out the window and as they passed me yelled, "FIRE BUSH!".

It stopped me in my tracks.

Fire Bush? Really?

At first I was embarrassed, mortified and not just a little bit angry--stupid monkey boys with nothing better to do than sexually harass a lone woman taking a stroll.

Then, I was fascinated by the fact that walking down the street with red hair could elicit such a response from total (albeit undeniably cunty) strangers.

Maybe this red hair thing wasn't the detriment I'd always seen it as. Perhaps it held some kind of magical power. I liked that.

I haven't messed with the color of my hair for years now. I used to wear it in a really short pixie (think Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby). Now it's slowly making its way down the middle of my back. I'm not just wearing it--I'm wearing it.

And yes, the carpet matches the drapes.


Love Monkey said...

AMEN. I too am a redhead. I heard all those tired remarks from people - strangers.

I remember as a child I didn't know if my hair was a blessing or a curse since older people told me how lucky I was and kids my age tormented me daily.

I remember planning to dye it platinum the minute I turned 18.

Then I learned about the effects of red hair on men.

I hated it no more.

Phil said...

I can confirm the effect red hair has on men. I married one. Both my boys are red-heads. I love it.

mamadawn said...

Red hair is HAWT.
People are stupid. They ask me why my kids are blond. I'd like to tell them it's because I'm screwing the pool boy, but that would just invite more commentary.

Michael K said...

You got lucky in the freckle department. A kid I grew up with was covered in 'em. Now he's in prison.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Funny, of all the Irish (known for their redheads) in my family, no one has red hair; it's all jet black. Must be because all my relatives swill down so much Guinness, it's permanently changed our hair DNA.

Grant Miller said...

My youngest daughter has red hair, although darker - more brown - than I remember yours. I've heard similar questions from strangers about her. Although, thankfully, no one has yet screamed "fire bush" at her.

I've been on a big Eurythmics kick lately. Dave Stewart was a frigging genius. And Annie Lennox had red hair.

dirty said...

I am a natural red head. I have always hated it and still do. I'm not sure I will ever comes to terms with it's redness and I will probably always change the color.

I have very few freckles and I tan easily so people never ask about my carpet...but I have hard wood floors anyways.

Hanmee said...

We went to Ireland in 2005 and didn't see any more redheads there than here. My youngest sister-in-law is a redhead and she was rather disappointed about that as she was hoping to find some of her "own peeps" there.

It was amusing though while we were in Galway that a tourist asked her for directions (I guess they assumed the redhead thing). My father-in-law was jealous that she was mistaken as a local.

I have heard of the "black Irish" (dark hair), which is pretty common.

MelO said...

Great blog! I’m new to the blogosphere and a stranger to your blog.

I too am a redhead, who hated all those horrible tormenting comments, too. What is it about pubescent boys who have to ask all red headed girls if the “carpet matches the drapes?” I remember being sooo completely embarrassed several times after being asked that question.

I think that’s about the stage in my life when I started getting incredibly sarcastic… “No, dumbass, the carpet is black… what do YOU think?”

Tanya Espanya said...

I slithered over here from Katie Schwartz's site...I'm glad to hear you're happy now with your hair. Have you seen/heard of Catherine Tate, a British comic?

I leave you these links in case you haven't seen yet.




For Your Scrapbook

My photo
I like stuff and things. I've been married for close to 14 years and have two miniature versions of myself running around (and it frightens me most of the time). I have never been nor will I ever be a vegetarian.