Given my liberal upbringing, I managed to make it a quarter of a century and three times around the color wheel before anyone pointed out to me that there might be something peculiar about dying your hair weird colors. It wasn’t until Brit and I went to the Long Beach Antique Fair last month that I was made aware that in certain parts of the country, erratic hair dying was not typical behavior. Not two seconds after entering, I heard someone say, “Hey, green hair!” I thought he was addressing me, calling me “green hair” in order to get my attention. After all, I do that sometimes to strangers when they drop something and scurry away. “Hey, blue shirt! You dropped your wallet/cell phone/sweater/small exotic tropical marsupial companion!” I turned around to look for the caller, expecting to find someone with an outstretched hand holding my iPhone. However, there was nothing. My eyes shifted left and right, canvassing the crowd, but alas, there was no benevolent stranger. I shrugged and turned around to catch up with Brit. I found her at a booth looking at tabletop trinkets. “Ooooh!” I said, picking up a set of tiny maracas. I shook them over the table, pinching their miniature handles between my thumb and index fingers. It sounded like they were filled with rice. As I looked at them, my focus shifted onto the woman sitting behind the booth, her face at level with the minuscule musical instruments. She looked at me with tight lips, her eyes wide. “Hi!” I greeted her enthusiastically. “Your hair is green,” she replied. “Yes,” I said slowly. “Yes, it is green.” She must be entering early stages of dementia, I thought to myself. How very sad. I gave her a sympathetic smile and set the maracas down. Brit and I continued down the path, stopping at a booth of turquoise and coral jewelry run by two eccentric women in their 60s. They wore old hippie garb and piles of bracelets. I leaned over the jewelry cases, eagerly listing off everything I wanted to see. After naming two-thirds of the case, I looked up at them, a smile on my face, excited to try things on. However, my smile was not returned. Instead, the women stared at me with perplexed expressions. My mouth fell into a concerned frown, my eyes heavy with worry. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I’m sorry,” one said, shaking her head as though coming out of a daze. “It’s just that your hair is green.” In that moment, I understood. “I’LL TAKE FOUR RINGS” I said slowly and loudly, holding four fingers up on my left hand. The antique market was surely a charity event for victims of dementia. What a noble endeavor.
It wasn’t until a man in an American flag tee shirt and khaki shorts walked by me five minutes later and yelled, “Somethin’ happened to your hair!” that I finally realized what was going on. “People are weird,” I said to Brit. She nodded in agreement.