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.
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