Rendered Fat Content

OtterSummer 8.17-Hair

Fifteen turns attention toward hair. For me it was length. For The Otter, color. The gray-heads encourage her to embrace her natural color, though most claim they have more important battles to wage. “If hair color’s the biggest controversy we have, I’m grateful,” we proclaim, though not entirely believably.

I fought a series of running skirmishes over my hair length from the time I was The Otter’s age until I was about twenty five. I spent a few years in there with a Samson complex, unwilling, perhaps unable to cut a single hair. Control over my hair length felt like the only part of my life I had any control over, and I would have been damned to forfeit that one toehold.

Coloring one’s own hair turns out to be a really complicated, full afternoon activity. It would have happened shoemaker’s elves-style overnight, but The Otter realized in the wee hours that she needed disposable latex gloves, so she had to wait until the following afternoon. After we returned with the newly purchased gloves, she disappeared into her bathroom, where she first bleached the remaining pink out of her hair. She explained that the pink, being temporary coloring, had already faded considerably in the two weeks since she’s stained it. This bleaching, she claimed, kind of sizzled her scalp, and left a bottle blond bordering on sociopathy. “I’m tough, David, I can take it,” she insisted. I snapped a picture when she asked me to, to send to The Muse, who’d returned to work that morning.

I was whipping up some dynamite pizza bianca dough while The Otter shuttled back and forth between the bathroom and her bedroom. My first peek at her new color was through the bathroom door as I reached into the utility closet there to grab the heating pad to use warming my rising pizza dough. She had colored a back lock, the rest of her hair bald blond. I was shocked! What was she doing to herself?

Later, she used half the kitchen double sink to rinse out her toxic utensils, hair wrapped in a towel, shoulders stained magenta where her hair had rested, I supposed, while she finished the front parts. The goo ran down the drain like so much coagulating blood, and I moved everything edible further from her waste dump.

She’d promised to leave no mess, without really knowing the outcome. The grout in the tiled shower wall pretty well matched her new hair color, so I set her to work with a spray bottle of diluted bleach. It’s almost back to normal this morning. Not so The Otter. She now sports a killer iridescent magenta head of hair. She looks every bit like a comic book femme fatale, so I’m keeping her away from the knives and poisons until she settles into her role. It’s more than a little scary how her looks shifted.

I doubt that I spent as much time as The Otter did on her hair yesterday in my whole truncated decade as a teen. The Muse reflected that she chuckles to herself whenever one of the local environmental doyens holds forth about toxic pollutants from beneath clearly artificially colored fur. “I did that about twice,” The Muse admitted, “before I figured it wasn’t worth it.”

The value isn’t obvious to me, so many decades removed from my own hair revolution. Especially when this morning, The Otter refused my offer to take her out into the world where she would certainly have received an ample supply of envious and appreciative gazes. Maybe all this mad scientist secret work young women perform on their heads has little to do with gaining notoriety. Sure, her new color featured prominently in her late night Facebook posts, but nobody but our house guest, The Muse, and I are likely to see her transformation in person for a few days.

Much as I pretend to, I clearly don’t understand. It was a tremendous amount of exacting work, certainly more effort than any of the routine chores she stiff-arms as too exhausting. Yet she plans and executes with all of the diligence of a rocket scientist, engaging as if this were the most important work she will ever be called upon to do.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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