She asked for my senior citizen’s card that Wednesday morning. I had run by the bakery at the Bilo in Lyman to get some muffins for my department meeting that afternoon. What prompted her request, I have no clue. Except, perhaps, it was because I had pulled my shoulder-brushing bob cut back and pinned it on the top, exposing the newly emerging silver at my temples. She didn’t look any older than the 9th graders I’d been teaching that semester. When I said, “What?” she promptly explained that seniors get a 5% discount on Wednesdays.
“How old do you have to be to get a senior citizen’s card?” I asked.
“How old do you think I am?”
“Sorry, hon, but I have nine more years to go to be considered a senior citizen at the Bilo.”
“Sorry.” She looked at the register screen. “That’ll be $12.60.”
I scanned the store. At 7:00 am, it was deserted. “Wait just a minute, okay? I’ll be right back.” The checkout was right in front of the pharmacy, and the Clairol Natural Instincts boxes were
only a few steps away. I pulled a strand of still wren-brown hair from over my ear and held it in front of my eyes while comparing it to the pictures of luxurious locks on boxes. Toasted almond appeared to be the closest to my natural color.
The box sat on the counter in my bathroom for about six weeks before I got the nerve to do the deed. By then, school was out for the summer. I was right about the color, it was a near perfect match the natural shade of my youth, which still ruled the back of my head.
I only used the color about every four months until the rate of white hair growth increased. I began to get what I have always referred to as “skunk head syndrome”. That’s the white streak you get at your part when the color grows out. It wasn’t so bad when the white was just in the front. Then I increased the coloring rate to once every six weeks. I quit using it the summer I turned 51 years old. Right after my husband told me the gray shone like polished silver in the moonlight spreading slats through the mini-blinds in our bedroom. Let it go, he said, let it go. So I have for the past year. But I’m not ready for that senior citizen’s card yet.