SHARON RANDALL: Down to the Roots

What’s the one chore you dread with a passion? The one that you keep putting off for as long as you can until that voice in the back of your head (mine sounds like my mother) says, “You might as well just get it over with, because I am not about to do it for you.”

Actually, I can think of quite a few not-so-simple tasks that fit the “dreaded” category. Some days, life seems full of them.

Tax preparation, for example. Yes, it’s that time of year. Our dining room table is buried in papers that my husband and I will spend hours on, then pay an accountant to figure them out.

Or dental check-ups. I just had my teeth cleaned a few days ago. It was completely painless, but I’m still losing sleep over it.

Or cleaning the oven. Hmm. I must dread that a lot. I can’t remember the last time I did it.

Anyhow. Here’s the ridiculous thing about the chore that I am dreading today: I don’t have to do it. I could pay someone to do it for me (and get better results) or I could just give it up and never bother doing it ever again.

Why on Earth do I keep doing something I don’t need or want to do? You might call it vanity. That’s a fancy word for caring a bit too much about one’s looks. Or as my mother would say, “She thinks the sun comes up every morning just so people can marvel at her face.”

(I’m not sure my mother ever said that. I’m just saying she would have, if she thought of it.)

So what chore am I dreading today? Dyeing my gray hair.

I’ve been coloring my roots longer than I can remember and it never gets easier. First, I have to mix up the goop, taking care not to spill it, or I’ll have to clean up the mess, then run to the store to buy more goop.

Next, I have to part my hair in tiny rows, one row at a time, and apply the goop, just so, making sure to cover every square inch or I’ll end up speckled with gray spots like an old mangy dog that we called Speckles.

SHARON RANDALL: Down to the Roots

Then I need to wait a half hour with a plastic cap on my head, hoping I don’t have to answer the door and scare the poor FedEx guy half to death.

Finally, I wash it out, dry it, curl it, and then start counting the days until I do it again.

Yes, I could go to a salon, and will, on occasion, but it’s quicker and cheaper to do it myself. In my defense, I’ll say this: It’s not entirely a matter of vanity.

Years ago, I was driving my 4-year-old and his buddy Eric to preschool when we passed a parked car covered with a tarp.

“Look at that,” I heard Eric say to Josh. “Grown-ups are so dumb. Everybody knows there’s a car under there.”

Dyeing my roots doesn’t fool anybody. Everybody knows there’s gray hair under there. It isn’t just about how others see me. It’s about how I see myself and how it makes me feel.

Two years ago, at the start of the pandemic shutdown, when I wasn’t being seen by anybody but my husband, who probably wouldn’t notice, I decided to go gray. So I did. For two months.

Then one day I looked in the mirror, saw a white stripe down the middle of my head, and said, “I look like a skunk.”

I can’t speak for you. But for me? It’s hard to feel good about myself if I look like a skunk.

So I colored my roots that day, and kept them colored, more or less, ever since. Especially on days like we all have now and then, when for whatever reason, we want to feel our best.

I have friends who’ve gone gray and they look terrific. I don’t plan to color my hair forever. But I will today. I’m having a root canal tomorrow and need all the help I can get.

Root canals definitely fit in the “dreaded” category. I can almost hear my mother saying, “Don’t worry, honey, you’ll be fine. Just try to look your best and lean on the Lord. And remember, a little lipstick never hurts.”


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