Quarantine has given us all a lot of time to stare at our hair in the mirrors and think about the drastic ways we could change it. This week at home I joined the trend of billions, possibly trillions, of bored adolescents by deciding to dye my hair for the first time. This decision came from a culmination of weeks of considering getting bangs, cutting my own hair, using lemon juice to bleach my locks, getting a bowl cut, experimenting with a mohawk, cutting my hair in the style of the mullet, slicking my hair back like Elvis Presley, and giving myself a Napoleon-Dynamite-style perm. In the end I decided to stick with a good old-fashioned home hair dye disaster. I was prepared. The tools: the year-old hair dye that had been staring at me from the back of my closet, some gloves, an ice cold hose, and an old plastic dye bucket and brush. The time? In the middle of the day, when my parents had gone out on a walk so they couldn’t physically pull the dye from my hands.
Now, this was the first time I had ever dyed my whole head, so I was fairly nervous. I began to apply the dye, mostly on my ears, and slowly my look transformed. The dye was red—but not a nice ginger color, more like tomato-red. So by the end of the dye job, while I stood contemplating my decision in the bathroom mirror, I looked rather like a wet tomato. But there was no going back, so I waited for an hour. When the hour was up, I could wash it out. But not with nice, warm water—oh no. The water I had to use was ice-cold and painful to the touch. Fun! Slowly, I washed the dye out my hair, applied shampoo, washed that out, applied conditioner, washed that out—all the while gradually encasing my head in a thick layer of ice. When I was done, I took an ice pick in hand and chipped away until my head was free. However, I still had the most intense brain-freeze of my entire life. The ice water was perhaps the coldest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. Colder than my high school economics teacher’s tone when I failed my test. Colder than the glare of my professor who despises technology using Zoom. Colder than water fountain water after you’ve been chewing mint gum for over an hour. The brain freeze made it seem like my brain was working ten seconds slower than usual. I tried to get out of the bathroom to go brush my hair, and each step took me about thirty seconds.
Five hours later, my hair was dry. I braced myself and peered in the mirror, and immediately laughed out loud. I looked like a singing Disney troll. I looked exactly like Heat Miser. I looked like I had actual curly flames erupting from my skull. And yet, I don’t regret my home dye job. Finally doing something irrational to my hair got the urge to do things to my hair out of my system. For now. If we’re quarantined too much longer, I might end up with a red Napoleon Dynamite perm, and then I’ll feel very sorry for my classmates on Zoom who have to look at me.