where the writers are
Time To Dye

In my mother'sday you dyed yourhair, but now you colorit. I often use the wrong term, which sends my hair stylist into a furiousRumplestiltskin-like jig. At any rate, moments ago I colored my hair and am nowsitting at the keyboard waiting for it to take, as my grandmother—whose color for fortyyears was “Saucy Brown”—would say. With my membrane-sheathed hair plastered tothe top of my head, I resemble a cross between a Cupie doll and a calf so newto the world, it hasn’t yet shed its caul.


Some day I hopeto be able to stroll blithely into the world in this state—to pick lettuce inthe garden or walk to the mailbox on the corner—even to chat with the teenageboys who gather in front of my house every afternoon to spit and smoke pot. ButI’m not there yet. Far from it. I’m housebound for the forty minutes it takesto brown up, scuttling from room to room, ducking when I pass in front of awindow, freezing if I hear someone coming up the steps.


I never thoughtI’d color, but when I turned forty and saw a picture of myself fresh out of theshower with a suffering look on my face and long, mousy hair, I was struck bythe resemblance to paintings of Christ on the cross. Christ, only older. “GrayJesus,” I said to my girlfriend, who promised then and there that if I decidedto dye, she would always do the dying. She’s been true to her word. She evenreminds me. I might be grinding coffee, checking out at Walgreens, or waitingfor the train. All she has to say is, “Gray Jesus,” and I know it’s time todye.