I'm 28 years old and I'm going gray. OK, maybe that's a stretch. But I noticed not one, but four gray hairs last night. I was making our daily deposit at the ATM. And the camera they have installed on the machine is basically one shadowy mirror that reflects in shades of black and white. I can't help staring into it everytime I use the machine. Last night, the silver strands of hair stuck out, like glaring headlights in the night.
How can this be? My mother is in her fifties and has matured into a light blond that really isn't gray at all. Everybody knows you're supposed to age like your mom, right? Maybe it's the sun, maybe these are blond highlights, I reason, still standing at the ATM staring directly into the camera-mirror. Maybe I have something in my hair- paint or whoopie pie filling. But I wear a baseball cap most of the day, so there's not much sun and the only colors I've painted are reds and browns. How can this be?
Eventually I manage to make the deposit and hurry back to Rich.
"Look at this!" I point to my hair, willing him to say there's nothing there.
"I have gray hair! I mean, do I? Maybe I don't. Probably I don't. What do you see?"
He looks carefully at my scalp. "Ummm, yep, there's about four of them!"
I yelp in horror. In shock and denial.
"I'm 28 years old!" I tell him, as if this was news. "How can this be!?"
"Don't ask me," he says. "I started going gray at 14." It's true. He woke up one day with a stripe of gray hair and by age 34 most of his head is gray. I don't mind, I kinda like it. But gray on a man is not the same as gray on a woman. Gray on a man is distuingished. Gray on a woman is something to hide. I contemplate the inequality of this, even as I'm thinking of the quickest way to a bottle of hair dye.
At home, I'm considering a quick pluck of the four tratorous strands. But as I check myself out in the mirror, I am amazed at the thinning texture of my short hair. I decide that I cannot afford to lose any of my locks, no matter their color. Better gray than gone.
Maybe this has something to do with the 90+ hours a week that we are each investing in the shop. Maybe it has to do with the stress of wondering if we made the right decision. Or maybe it's just the nature of growing old(er). One thing I know, tonight when I deposit the cash, I'm looking straight ahead. No mirrors, no nothing.