Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Highlights of Summer

I am trying to convince myself that highlighting my hair is not a gay cliché. Doesn’t David Beckham go for the blond streaks?

Okay, I cannot put myself in the same league..for anything. (Gotta admit, I think he overdid it on the tattoos.) I see teens and twentysomething guys playing with their hair color all the time. It’s a hip thing to do.

Of course, I’m a fortysomething and I don’t wear hipness convincingly. The dye has been cast. I now have my own streaks of blond.

Two decades ago, the blond would have appeared naturally as I lifeguarded and spent countless hours outdoors in the midday summer sun. Melanoma changed that for me ten years ago. No more sun. I’ve got the scars to remind me that pasty white is my permanent skin tone from now on. Still, I missed being a bit blonder—and, let’s face it, being a bit less gray. (My hairstylist mistook some gray for blond so I can’t complain. And I still have all my hair, another windfall!)
I did get highlights one other time, many years ago. Probably right after the melanoma. I needed a pick-me-up after sitting in the waiting room of a skin cancer institute, thirty-five years younger than all the other patients. I was so worried that my dye job would overly feminize me, as if my voice and my mannerisms were textbook he-man. Anyway, I asked for the dye job to be subtle. It turned out to be so subtle that no one (other than my partner at the time) noticed.
This time I was (slightly) more daring. As I read an older issue of Rolling Stone—hey, that Adam Lambert* guy is gay! At least little “Idol” girls still have Seacrest*--while the product bleached clumps of hair, I fretted over the reveal. Egad! What if it’s Pamela Anderson platinum? Or Anderson Cooper white? (Cooper white is fine if you’ve got the piercing blue eyes and Ivory skin. Hmm, no and no.)

My stylist did a spot-check after a half hour and announced it was “still too yellow”. She walked away and chatted at length to another idle stylist and the new gay receptionist with the lovely (South African?) accent. Another tangent: there’s a new gay in town! Turns out his partner is the gay guy at the bakery. That makes it official. Yes, I am the only single gay in the community.

I worried that the conversation was distracting my stylist. If the dye stayed on too long, what color would my hair become? Would magenta work with my green eyes? Fortunately, it all worked out. I didn’t trust the mirrors in the salon so I rushed home and verified the look in each mirror.
The highlights are apparent but “natural”, recalling years past. Do I look younger and kissed by summer? That was the goal.
Maybe I really am a clichéd, old gay fart, but this cliché feels fresh. Good enough.

*Dyes/highlights his hair.

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