Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Grey Roots

This weekend I'm dying my hair. I buy the color at the drug store and do it myself to save money. I try to go for as long as possible without dying my hair in order to preserve its health. The ammonia and other noxious chemicals they put in the hair dye can make the hair brittle and dry. My hair is long, so its state of health isn't hidden, its obvious to the viewer. I've seen older women with long hair that they dye themselves that looks horrible. I feverishly hope, (here you can see how wide my streak of vanity is) that I don't look like some of the women I see sitting in the psychiatric health center I use.

I got my first gray hairs back in 1990 when I was hospitalized in a psychiatric institution for two years. I was only twenty. Know that old story about the mental shock that turned the man's hair white? Well, I suppose that living in that hospital, and weathering the onset of a mental illness, turned a couple of my hairs white. Stress can make you prematurely gray, this I know is true. President Obama, after a year in office, apparently has more gray hairs. There was an internet article about it. Some of those hairs might be old age, but I am certain that trying to lead a country out of a depression (I'm not going to sweet it over and call it a recession) while it is at war in two countries, and develop national health care, has given him stress related gray hairs.

Dying my hair is a complicated affair. First of all, during the winter, I can only do it on the weekend. This is because during the week we only heat our bedroom, but on the weekend we turn up the heat for the whole apartment. On week days outside the bedroom the apartment has a little propane heating, but the setting is low, only enough so that the cats stay alive and the pipes don't freeze. Usually the bathroom is very cold. And it is in the bathroom where I sit, naked, with the chemical dye in my hair for approximately 25 minutes. It has to be the bathroom because I don't want the dye to ruin anything in the apartment. Every room in the apartment is covered with Oriental rugs. (I know one woman who collects teddy bears, another woman who collects light houses, but I have collected, over the years, Oriental rugs.) Inexplicably, I have noticed that once I got brown hair dye on the white bathroom wall. I know I get dye on my shoulders and forehead. So I do not underestimate that it is a messy process.

Once, a women told me that she puts her hair, wet with hair dye, in a plastic bag, knots it shut, and then walks around the house. This is a sensible habit. And perhaps a necessary habit for her because she has three children, two of which are young. But I can endure the discomfort of sitting in the bathroom naked. I usually pass the time reading a book.

I don't mind that a little bit of my natural brown hair, streaked gently with gray, should show at the roots. This is part of my punk sensibilities. I used to be punk when I was in my twenties. Punk says "Who cares if you show some artificiality?" Punk says "Don't let the pressures of conventional society mold your behavior." Punk says, "This is who I am so fuck off."

The dye I use is the same color every time. And it is one shade lighter than my natural color. So that is why my roots are dark. I like the lighter shade because when the sun shines on it there are glints of red and gold. If I had my hair professionally colored they would put in it unmistakable streaks, whole long locks, of blond or red. I am slightly saddened that I cannot afford my hair to be professionally colored. A women in my peer support mental health group that meets Wednesday night has long hair - she is post menopausal, and treats herself with a professional dye job. She has glorious, sophisticated hair that appears to be worthy of a girl many decades younger. She told me last visit the price was $108. I believe this was before a tip.

I dream that if I publish a book I will treat myself every other month with a professional hair dye job.

Realistically I could go for another month without dying my hair. But I have an event to go to next Thursday. It will be in a place where I hope to look as young as possible. I will be going to a strip club.

I've never been to a strip club and I have to admit I am glad of the opportunity. I prefer not to go to my grave and never have been to a strip club. My curiosity is unchecked. My husband's daughter specifically invited us. She will participate in a pole dancing contest, with a thousand dollar prize. She has been practicing complicated moves. She will have a costume on that will cover her breasts. We would not go if her breasts were uncovered. Still, after she competes, we have to immediately leave because then her real job begins. She will change into a thong and she will pole dance and give lap dances mostly naked.

I believe that what my step-daughter is doing is about two steps up from prostitution. She teases her customers with sexual fantasies, and enhances the sexual fantasies by very sexual behavior. She flaunts her practically naked body and manipulates men's minds with flirtatious conversation in order to get as much money as she can out of them. I used to wonder, would it be better for this girl, after she had just lost her high paying job, to go into the army or become a stripper? She had only a couple of college courses to her credit and two years experience as a customer representative at an internet company. The economy was in a depression and nobody was hiring. When my husband was young, inexperienced, and at a cross roads in his life he joined the air force. The discipline was really good for him, he traveled widely, and he got training that lead to a job with a police force when he became a civilian again. Oh, he disliked it while he was serving, but now older and wiser, he looks back and says that he made enormous gains of character while he was in the military.

I know, with my personality, that I would join the military rather than be a stripper. However, my step-daughter has a different type of personality. She can handle the emotional strain of sexually selling herself. She dances three nights a week and goes to college full time. When we saw her last she had just signed on for another semester of school and told us that she wants to get her Master's Degree in computer science, and eventually, start her own business. There is nothing stopping her from making these dreams a reality. Unless, perhaps, she accidentally becomes pregnant. She makes more money stripping, three nights a week, than my husband does working a 50 hour week in manufacturing. His daughter is apparently a very good stripper and out earns the other girls. She drinks a lot of coffee for energy while she dances, drinks "fake" drinks that are really just fruit juice with no alcohol that the patrons buy her trying to get her drunk, and has told us that it is no use making friends with the other strippers, most of who are alcoholics and drug addicts and prostitutes. The owners of the strip club are really happy with her and she is secure and proud that she is making them, and herself, a lot of money. All the other jobs she has ever had she complained about. She complained they were unfair at the grocery store. She complained that they were making her work too hard at the internet company. We hear no complaints about stripping. She has the job figured out. Probably she is a very, very smart girl.

As far as I'm concerned my husband and I are going to see his daughter in a play. She's an actress. And I really hope she wins the big prize. Her boyfriend has not committed whether or not he will come to the contest. He thinks it is enormously wrong that her father is coming into her work place to see her perform. Well, I know perhaps a little more about this family. My husband used to walk around his house in the nude. He used to sunbath in the back yard nude. When his kids got old enough he dropped the habit. But he and his daughter are related, they have the same genes, they have some of the same emotional make up. They both are very sexual, sensual beings with very little (at least compared to me) sense of shame. If his daughter can succeed in her job, how much of a stretch is it that her father would not support her in her job?

I call the love that my husband has for his daughter "Jesus love". I don't know much about Jesus, but what I do know is that he seemed to have a bottomless pit full of love and compassion when it came to the people around him, the good and the bad, the holy and the sinners alike. My husband has a bottomless pit of love for his daughter. She could be a murderer and he would forgive her and visit her often at prison. She literally, can do no wrong. Oh, he calls her a diamond in the rough too. He says that she has some sharp edges that times needs to wear away. He isn't naive. But I think, when it comes to his daughter, there are two forms of judgment. There is the quick judgment, a surface judgment, and then beneath this an ocean of pride and acceptance.

I don't think that I will dress sexually at the strip club. I'll try to look nice, obviously I'm dying my hair for the occasion. But I don't want the men looking at me, I want them to focus on the strippers. I'm debating wearing a pair of black heels or my beloved blue canvas converse sneakers. I don't know if I'll wear some big gold earring, and flash some bling, when in real life I prefer to wear the little diamond stud earrings that my sister gave me. I may curl my hair and make it big and fluffy. I could wear the clingy wrap around dress with fish net stockings that I wore one Christmas, or I could wear my favorite pair of jeans with a gray sweater. I think that the environment will be so scary, and such a new experience, that I will opt for comfort over all else. Probably I'll get to the strip club and just hope to be invisible.

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