I know I said it was old lady hands that made me wince at my own mortality. But at least my hands still do what I want them to do.
It’s my old lady hair that I need to speak to. Very, very strictly. When I was young I had blonde hair that hung down my back in a torrent. I wore my hair long and straight for way longer than the cultural norm. But at some point blonde turned into light brown. And then, at some additional inevitable point, a broad stripe of gray showed up and said hello. Hello, yes, you are mortal.
At the moment when the broad stripe of gray appeared, I was at a dot.com startup where my colleagues and my employees had an average age of um, well, 28 isn’t an exaggeration. I was 43. And with hair past my shoulders striped gray I felt old. And I had too much work to do to be walking around feeling old. So one day I went to a hair salon frequented by women with serious face lifts and had someone cut my hair short and dye it back to blonde.
Immediately thereafter I was made vice-president. Hmm.
Recently after 10 years of short hair it dawned on me that I might want to grow it long again. That this might be my last chance at woman hair. Old lady hair is more like the fluff on a dandelion. It won’t hang down your back. It won’t twist like silk around your fingers. It won’t shine in the sunlight. It won’t do many of those sweet girlie things that hair can do.
I grew my hair back down to my shoulders. Hello hair. No longer a torrent, as creeping old lady hair syndrome has reduced the former torrent to a stream. Good enough however to do a little shining, a little flinging, a little bouncing as I walk. Unfortunately, now that my hair is long again, I find myself too often pulling it back in a ponytail. Which clearly won’t do in the workplace, where I am always trying for elusive executive stature.
I am now in preliminary mourning for my hair. I am preparing myself to chop it off again. Return to the time-honored executive woman hair of Carly and Meg and Ann. Some day in the far, far distant future, when I officially decide that I am in fact an old lady, I will grow my hair for the last time and let it go gray and wear it up in a tortoiseshell comb and pretend I am my father’s mother. Wear pearls. Black silk. An antique brooch, which of course for my grandmother was quite modern. I hope these tricks will compensate for the blonde hair that used to lie next to me on my pillow with a life of its own. If not I plan to pretend that I don’t notice.