I’ve been pretty productive lately, even though I also managed to waste a lot of time yesterday… not due to procrastination, but due to the decision I made to color my hair yesterday morning. It’d been so long since the last time, I did it wrong. The follies I committed in the process dragged the whole operation out beyond the precious time I’d allocated for it.
We’re at the advent of a long stretch of summer; my hair is at its most red by the beginning of October. It gets redder and lighter down toward the ends, which makes it look more fried than usual. I’ll get ahead of it and start this summer with freshly darkened hair, went my thinking. I picked up some “dark brown,” my go-to choice for Mission: Single-shade Hair.
Evidently, I’d forgotten how the process works. I started by putting on an old t-shirt. This would’ve been correct had the t-shirt not been a men’s size XXL with the neckline cut out. Basically, I wore a huge, loose, off-the-shoulder t-shirt dress… for the occasion of coloring my hair… dark brown. (Lest we forget that I’m a brilliant genius.) It wasn’t until after I was finished that I saw the gruesome aftermath on my skin. I’d been so focused on my hair that I failed to notice the color getting everywhere else.
I realized too late that 1). it’s not a good idea to undertake a hair-coloring enterprise when I’d be alone wielding a bottle of hair dye and no clue how to deal with the back of my head, and 2). the answer to the struggle is not to flip my wet, color-saturated hair from one side of my head to the other, or to turn my head around as far as possible so I could pull under-pieces from the back toward the front. If only I could swivel my head around like the girl in “The Exorcist,” I even thought at one point. Someone should start a Rent-A-Demon business.
Since it took so long to finish the color application (45 minutes), the dye on my skin had already dried by the time I noticed it… just when I was feeling proud of myself for getting every single hair. I ended up grabbing at nearby paper towels, leaning over the sink and frantically scrubbing the right side of my face and neck, part of my throat, the back of my neck, and parts of my collarbones, shoulders, and upper chest. And my left wrist, and a few fingers, even though I’d worn the flimsy enormous plastic gloves that came with the dye.
I felt like a murderer in a gas station bathroom. Now I understand why it takes murderers so long to clean up, and why the clean-up scene is usually cut mid-way through and the next thing you see is a pile of bloody paper towels after the successful clean-up job, or the murderer leaving the bathroom all spic and span, or even further, the murderer scrubbing off blood one minute and showing up at someone’s dinner party with a bouquet the next.
Callaghan called me two hours later when I was fresh out of the shower and still faintly splotchy even after all the scrubbing with a Japanese washcloth (rough like a cat’s tongue) my skin could handle. The residual stains on my skin did look like they could be bloodstains.
“I look like I did something heinous,” I told Callaghan when he asked me how my morning was going. “Are you still going to Costco after work? Could you please pick up some nail polish remover?”
“You don’t wear nail polish. What did you do?”
“I colored my hair this morning. And also the side of my face. And parts of my neck and upper chest. Pretty much my entire upper body, plus my left wrist and a few fingers.”
After he stopped laughing, he said, “It will come off eventually. Give it another few showers.”
“But I’m going to the gym tomorrow morning and I don’t want to look like a murderer.”
When he got home, Callaghan said, “I had to go to CVS for this. You know this stuff is mostly acetone, right? There’s nothing in here that’s inoffensive.” (Yes, he said the word “inoffensive.” The man may have a French accent, but he also has an English vocabulary that puts many Americans’ to shame.)
“Did you go to the CVS?” (The CVS where people tend to get shot or otherwise murdered. It’s our friendly neighborhood CVS, aka the murder CVS.)
It took the two of us a good 30 minutes to scrub me down with acetone. We were able to get most of the dye, but not all of it. Altogether, I spent almost three hours of yesterday doing my hair.
A pic of my uniformly dark brown hair, so you know that it happened:
By the way, my t-shirt reads “My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined” (Reviewbrah quote.) I didn’t choose the shirt on purpose. It was a coincidence. Also, I’m not actually disappointed. I think my hair turned out pretty well.