SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
I had a bad feeling, which I ignored, so it’s my fault that everything went wrong.
My youngest daughter wanted to color her hair. Brown. Remember brown, it becomes important later. My oldest daughter volunteered to do the coloring. She’s good at that kind of thing. My bad feeling didn’t come from there, or from the history between those two, which is that any contact lasting more than half an hour leads to screaming, insults and thrown objects. I couldn’t identify where that deep feeling of impending doom came from, so I kept my mouth shut. Big mistake.
My oldest daughter’s fiancé conveniently disappeared not only for the hour the project should have taken, but for the two days it ended up taking. He’s not so dumb.
We picked up a box of coloring from a big honkin’ market, which I’ll call BHM (for Big Honkin’ Market). It had a beautiful woman on the front. (The coloring box, not the BHM.) Things were looking up.
Now, the thermostat in my house is set at 60 degrees. My kitchen is one of the smallest rooms, making it easier to keep warm, and has a pilot light, so that’s where we spend our time in the winter. The bathroom’s smaller, but doesn’t have a pilot light, not to mention there’s only one seat. The point is, I was in the same room as the kids while they worked on this project. I would have been hiding in the living room, but I could see my breath in there.
It didn’t start out badly. Nothing was thrown, no pinching, I didn’t have to guard the knife drawer. Charis did her job to perfection, her timing impeccable, and soon she freed her sister’s hair from the confines of plastic and foil –
And the room lit up, as if a natural gas explosion had engulfed the kitchen. Believe me, I know what those look like.
Remember, they were using brown coloring. The problem was, Jillian’s hair was now orange. Bright orange. Florescent orange. State highway worker vest orange. People from two blocks away were calling 911 to say my house was on fire. People two miles away were reporting UFO sightings. On the other side of the country, the psychic who inspired the TV show “Medium” woke up screaming.
Charis sucked in her breath so hard that her face actually disappeared into the back of her head.
Jillian headed for the bathroom to look in the mirror, then stumbled out again, temporarily blinded. She saw spots in front of her eyes for two days.
After several minutes of wailing and gnashing of teeth, we took stock of the situation and did the only logical thing: called their mother, who used to be a professional hairstylist. She lives twelve miles away, but already knew – she’d seen the reflection of my daughter’s hair in low hanging clouds. She informed us that we needed to bring a stripper home.
A stripper? All right! Things were really looking up.
She meant a product that strips color out of hair, which was a big disappointment to me, but made a heck of a lot more sense. The idea was that we would strip the orange out, possibly with the use of a nuclear accelerator, then put a different color in.
So back we went to BHM, to look for more coloring. There Charis discovered a box of the same stuff we’d used had been opened, as it lay on the shelf. Giving in to curiosity, she looked into the box, and discovered contents that were not the same as the one we’d gotten before. In other words, the reason the brown coloring hadn’t worked is that we didn’t have brown coloring. Just the box the brown coloring was supposed to be in.
Someone had been opening the boxes and trading the contents back and forth, no doubt thinking it was quite funny to imagine, say, someone dying their hair red and ending up with blonde. Ha. Ha.
We spoke to the people at the service desk; they were shocked – shocked, I say -- to discover someone had done such a thing, and promised quick retaliation in the form of automatic weapons and surface to air missiles, and a refund.
Having picked a new box with the seal firmly in place, Charis applied the stripper and the new, really brown this time, hair coloring. Soon – when I say soon, I’m talking in geological terms – she finished her work, and presented me with her sister’s new look.
Jillian makes a fine redhead. Problem is, her hair was supposed to be – say it together – brown.
Apparently only so much can be done to repair hair that once glowed with the same intensity as a red giant star. Still, I thought things worked out okay, even if the one hour job stretched out over a weekend. In the end her hair looked okay, and eventually it’ll grow out and be brown again. Besides, no one died.
I came pretty close to dying, when I admitted to that feeling of impending doom from earlier. Why, my daughters said, did I not tell them? Because they wouldn’t believe me, I explained, as they threw silverware my way – they’d have thought I just didn’t want to deal with the situation, which was true.
A quick postscript: Several days later I went to my regular stylist for a haircut, and related this story to her. She explained that BHM had been fighting this problem for some time. So much for the people at the service desk being shocked, huh?
Do you know what that means? It means that somewhere, some poor soul who wanted orange hair is very upset. And brown.