Things I’ve Learned…

Sort of…

(Never Color My Hair To Cure Boredom)

“I got my hair highlighted because I felt that some strands were more important than others.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

Never – Ever Again – It’s happened More Than Once – But I’ll Never Again

Color My Hair To Cure Boredom

I Hope

One Boring Night…

Two cool teenage girls were at home staring at each other in the dead of winter in a small town. It was nearing midnight on a dark, cold Friday night. 

“Want to go outside and play, ‘Where am I now?’” I asked.

“No, it’s too cold,” practical Hannah said.

“Want to play – What’s in this concoction?”

 – This is a game we’ve frequently played since we were 5. One person goes into the kitchen and mixes ANYTHING into a cup. Some instant Maxwell House International Coffee – French Vanilla Cafe, a little mustard, a bouillon cube, three squirts of soy and one hot sauce dash, some cinnamon, and a pinch of turmeric… stuff like that. Then you take the drink to the person waiting – who is not allowed near the kitchen (because Hannah cheats, I do not) to take a sip – or more – to guess all the ingredients. Then we switch. Typically the last drink is the grossest.

“No, maybe later,” Hannah says, staring at the television.  We were now watching MTV.

“Want to play “band”? You can be the singer, and I’ll play air guitar and air drums?” I usually play both during each song. It’s easy to switch during critical parts and feels natural, too.

“How about we take the car out?” Hannah looks at me with a twinkle in her eye (I could only see one of them twinkle).

“Um, we’re not allowed to drive it without permission.” I probably did not say.

We threw on some coats and snuck out even though no one was home.

“Where do you want to go?” Hannah asked after we were driving around for about fifteen minutes. 


We covered all the territory on our side of town – the only places open were CVS and Walgreens.

“Walgreens?” I suggested.

We pulled into the lot.  We eagerly entered.  We walked down each aisle. Very depressing music seemed to play louder and louder.  Before contemplating all my sorrows and reaching for a Danielle Steel book and old holiday chocolates, I “luckily” came upon the hair coloring section.

“Want to color my hair?” I held up a box with an Asian lady on the front of it.

“Yes!” Hannah said, so we paid and took off – with foreign hair coloring for one and Daniel Steel books for two.

I don’t think we really read the instructions for the hair coloring.  I just remember Hannah applying the large plastic gloves provided and shaking a tube while we talked and laughed. 

2 am…

It was pitch black outside and almost as dark inside as I sat at the dining room table while Hannah smeared the stuff on my head.

(Looking back, the next day, we noted the 15-20 minute time frame requested before checking the results.)

However, that night we stayed up with the stuff on my head, and it was kinda burning, until 3 or 4 am. We got to talking and making each other laugh and completely lost track of time, so the burning and itching went mostly unnoticed. 

“Let’s go to bed.”

I was getting up from the table, “Wait, let’s wash my head first.”

“Ah, I’m so tired,” Hannah said, walking towards her bedroom.

“Come on!” I yelled as the burning instantly became intolerable.

We went to the kitchen, and Hannah sprayed my whole head and face with the kitchen water nozzle. I was drenched, but in the dark, my hair looked great. We went to bed and passed out.

The Next Day…

Hannah’s mom came home early. She usually left us alone if we slept in, but this morning she entered the bedroom (probably to retrieve her car keys) and gasped loudly. We woke up quickly, and so did Hannah’s idiot dog. Loud barking and her mom’s laughter filled the room until Hannah rolled over and looked at me. Her eyes popped. She began laughing – hard – for a long time. There were a few pauses where she just stared at me with shock before laughing again.

I am not one for jumping out of bed. This morning was no different, but I felt the urge to run to the mirror because of a hunch that something was messed up.  Was it my face? What happened to it while I was… wait, I remembered being soaked before going to sleep.

…My hair!

It was a very, very bright morning. The room was painted a stark white, and me, with my quarter Irish pale winter-white skin, all this bright light whiteness only enhanced the dark horror – that was my hair – that lay upon my head as I stared into the mirror. My shock and nervous laughter immediately turned to tears that lasted for many months. My hair wasn’t even black… it was blacker than black. It was beyond noir. It was so dark I could see the morning dust falling on it.

My crying turned my face and eye whites – beet red, my blue eyes – neon, and my hair now appeared blue-black.

“I’m a freak!”

I didn’t look human. I cried harder – still staring into the mirror.

Hannah’s mom said, “Your hair was such a pretty brown before.”

“Thanks, that helps,” I said while crying and dry heaving.

The Following Weeks…

I failed at every attempt to normalize my hair. I tried everything aside from goat urine. Probably would have if I had it.

Each day I woke up expecting a change, something, but no – nothing. It looked like a wig. It felt like hay. My scalp was raw. I hurt inside and out.

I bought powdered detergent and scrubbed at least twice a day based on advice from a local beautician that only made it ridiculously dry and freakishly static. I wouldn’t even move, and it would stand on end. 

I was still in high school and enjoyed this extra boost to my self-esteem. 

Every once in a while a few strands of my hair would fall over my shoulder and onto my desk, and I’d want to vomit. I was instantly brought back to my real-life nightmare. With my ego longing for another head, I’d quickly tie my hair back into an eye-catching bun many years after its time.

Salons offered treatments to strip the outer layer of my hair. I tried a few places and treatments.  Each applied chemicals, for extended periods, onto my hair and… nothing. Seriously. Only extreme lightheadedness and letdown… also complete regret and frustration. 

Eventually, the winter ended. Many hours of swimming and lifeguarding in the sun further damaged my hair enough, in a good way, to look somewhat normal. It would be many years before I would ask Hannah to do that again.


“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” ~ Mother Teresa


5 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned…

Add yours

    1. Thank you, Mr. W!  I grew up mainly in the Midwest, and every day was an attempt to amuse myself and others.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing much more.  I’d love to hear any of your stories – should you care to divulge them.  I’m always up for a good laugh.  All the best to you!


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