Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wearin O The Green

When I was in the 6th grade, I dyed my hair green. Now try to envision a small grade school in rural Minnesota where each class consisted of so few kids that we could actually get around to talking to everyone in our class during the lunch hour. So it was that a few days before St. Patrick's Day, we girls decided it would be fun to have green hair. That way, if there was nothing else green on our bodies, at least we wouldn't get pinched.

Now I don't know where that "pinching" if you didn't wear green began, but the kids in my class took it seriously and were only too glad to carry out the "rules." Not only that, but I got pinched hard--by nearly everyone who remembered to wear green. Funny thing was, we were a mix of Swedes, Norwegians, and Germans. We were ignorant where Irish rules came into play. And while many did remember to wear green, I was never one of them.

Thus it was that the night before the "pinching" day, I got the bottle of food color out of the kitchen cupboard and set about dying my blond locks green. I wasn't sure how much to use but I'd seen mom add just a drop or two to the things she cooked up, so I figured if I wanted to color a whole head of hair, I'd need quite a bit. So it was that I filled my hand with shampoo and then drizzled the green color all over it. The other girls in the class had informed me that it would wash right out so I wasn't concerned about using too much. They'd also informed me it wouldn't actually turn green, just sort of green. I  can now dispose of that lie. When you are blond, your hair turns vivid green. Worse yet, it stays green for weeks and weeks. Suffice it to say, I never did it again.

But that wasn't the worse part of the story. The next day I went to school expecting to see a whole lot of green hair amongst my classroom friends. Not so. There were only four of us with green hair. The other girls had mistakenly asked their mother's permission and been refused. Considering that I believed it would wash right out, I didn't ask permission. I just did it. To this day I'm still amazed that my parents didn't restrict me to the house. I guess they thought letting me go to school looking like something out of a horror movie would be a good lesson.

It was.

Now try to envision a natural blond with stick-straight, thick hair. That was me. And after the dye job it was still stick-straight, still thick, and stuck out all over the place--sort of like a spiky green halo around my face. Except that nothing about it looked angelic. I walked to school knowing the rest of the girls would look just like me so I figured I'd have company in the wearin 'o the green department and even better, this would be the year I wouldn't get pinched. Not once. I will admit that we got attention. Our teacher questioned us and then sent us to the Principal's Office. But we didn't get kicked out of school. I guess green hair wasn't a big enough offense.

I washed my hair four times that night. Still green. I continued washing my thick mop every night, multiple times. Still green. Oh, the deep color did fade, but it didn't go away. Not for a long time. That food coloring dye is powerful stuff. More powerful than the genuine hair dye I used later in my life. If they made food color in natural blond, I would have used it because it lasted almost forever--far longer than the "real" hair dye stuff.

After two weeks of green hair, mom finally took pity on me and sent me to the beauty shop. The operator looked at my hair and asked what happened. She laughed when I relayed my story. Because my hair was so thick, she had to thin it first, then cut it into a really short bob. That took care of most of the leftover green. The rest slowly faded away, but it took a long time.

Now that I think about it, I ought to drop the food color people a note, telling them how long lasting their colors are. Especially the green. But then I'd have to tell them how I know and it's not a story I feel like telling again.

So this month I'm wishing you an early Happy St. Patrick's Day-- from someone who isn't the slightest bit Irish but wants to make sure there's no "pinching" on March 17th.

1 comment:

  1. I can only imagine your I'm still chuckling over this! I was pretty independent myself, but never thought of dying my hair green. You make me laugh! I can just see your parents faces and hear their comments to eachother about their green haired daughter!

    Happy St. Patrick's Day to you too!