They use to call me Ronald and not because of a guy I dated in college. They use to call me Ronald, as in McDonald. Well, the “they” wasn’t really a “they”, but one bold friend honest enough to remind me of who I was mimicking one fateful day in the late 1990’s when a home hair experiment went awry.
Having spent most of the 1990’s and early 2000’s with one trendy hue or another in my hair, I remember clearly the day Dark and Lovely turned out to Bright and Scary. I was always a fan of Auburn (not the school, but the color). My favorite tones of Auburn were Honey Auburn and Rich Auburn. In fact, my stylists at the time was a master of giving me just a bit of sultry, edge to highlight my professional wraps, layers and roller sets. But one day, in my Inverness, Alabama apartment I ventured into waters unknown. I’d done my own hair hundreds of times before, but this time I decided to leave the color in longer than recommended and mix my own special “blend”. What I ended up with was a mess of epic proportions that left me with a cayenne pepper colored coif, a headache and some serious split ends.
While chatting at work with a few 20-year-olds I somehow found myself talking to them about my walk on the wild side concerning my hair. I was stunned about the overwhelming surprise, shock even, from each of them that I would have had engine red hair. Several things came to mind as they laughed (a bit too hysterically), quizzed me about it and still looked as if I was pulling an April Fool’s Joke on them.
I shared with them why I transitioned my hair color. In the midst of my goals and professional dreams to be on camera I didn’t want something as irrelevant (to me) as hair to get in the way. I giggled as I told them the “Ronald McDonald” phase was simply because I mismanaged money (because I overspent in other areas…shopping, at Casual Corner to be specific) and couldn’t pay a professional. Internally, I reminisced about the harsh red stains that would line my pillow the few days after a fresh, full-head at home color treatment. Sadly, to me, at that tender time in my needing-to-mature life, I viewed the pillow stains, forehead stains, burns, or neck stains that my lack of cosmetological experience produced as a sign that the color was going to “keep”! I pondered when one asked me, “Just how wild were you with the red hair?” Then I thought, “Am I really that far-removed from a “lava-red hair girl’ that the thought of me having been any other way than how I am now is laughable?” And I wondered is that a good thing or a bad thing. In that moment, I felt 41, and later asked myself how much of who I was at 21 or 31 is going to waste (the good and not so good stuff) because I’m not sharing it to help others.
That conversation left me feeling a certain kind of way. I think their collective disbelief took me by surprise. Part of me wanted to shout to all who would hear, “I am not too (whatever) to have had red hair”. And the other part wanted to say, “I’m proud of the change and growth that I’ve made that hasn’t taken away from, but enhanced me all the more.” After stewing in it for a while I finally saw that as an opportunity to relate to them in a way I had not before. Before then, they’d only known me as Angela the Coordinator. Not that I need to literally reenact any of my past tomfoolery to relate, but I sure can recall it to them in a healthy (and funny) way so they can understand that I understand…them. In that brief, unexpected moment I hope I gave them hope that regardless of where they are, and regardless of the silly choices they make, with a committed choice to change, they can become and overcome anything.
So now, of course, they want to see pictures. Shall I, or shan’t I? Right now my response regarding showing pictures of my Ronald McDonald hair stage is a split decision. Get it?!?! Split, as in the ends of my hair from that self-inflicted disaster:)