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Grey Hair

Hey ma, how’s this for making you feel old: Your eldest daughter just found her first grey hair. I mean on my own head; of course I always used to find yours fixed to the mirror by the sebum of their own follicles when we shared a bedroom and bathroom in junior high. I never figured out why you did that. I guessed it was a sense of idle horror at their progress, an absentminded reflex to sober you up against some other impulse I never could fathom either.

I was running my fingers through Jacob’s grey hairs again last night, the thin silver veins running through the long dark stuff at his temples, and telling him again that they make him look “distinguished.” He was telling me he’s afraid of getting old. He’s afraid of losing his ability to do things, and of losing his mind. He has a grandfather who has lost his, and it’s hard to watch.

I’m not so scared of that; parts of my family have histories of staying sharp until unusually ripe old ages, and the ones who have lost their minds either seemed to enjoy it to some extent or to compensate by filling in gaps with what remained of their logic. And I trust my mind; it’s my favorite toy, and it hasn’t lost its novelty despite 26 years of play. I even expect to be more open to new ideas for longer than most of the professors I’m dealing with right now.

I am scared of being single for long enough that I’m not attractive to anyone anymore, though, an echo set up in my head by the muffled howling of one or two of my older female relatives. I haven’t even had a chance to think of myself as having a broad aesthetic appeal for more than a few years; to lose it after so little time seems unfair.

But these hairs — I do think there’s actually two, one is no more than an inch long at this point but both have the wiry quality of real grey hairs — aren’t really wigging me out yet, so to speak. There’s just two. For the moment I can view them as freak accidents having nothing to do with the rest of my body. I’m more flexible than I’ve been in years, and I feel pretty good.

But jesus, grey hairs. I haven’t even had kids yet. I’m not even thirty.


  1. Mack wrote:

    Hey, I had my first grey hair at seventeen. And Steve Martin was totally platinum by the time he was your age. So it’s all relative.

    Just don’t ever wear your grey like Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club,” because that’s grodie.

    Sunday, November 2, 2003 at 7:16 pm | Permalink
  2. gus wrote:

    Yes, and Patrick Stewart was also bald by 19. Dude, if I could be half as good looking as either of them I’d have no problem, but…

    mack, you have grey hair? I just thought you were a natural agouti, like a wild rabbit.

    Sunday, November 2, 2003 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  3. sushiesque wrote:

    I found my first grey hair a couple months ago.

    I’d already considered myself a hopeless spinster long before that.

    Monday, November 3, 2003 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  4. Dante wrote:

    I have yet to find one of my own, but Fuz has plenty for both of us.
    My step-great-grandmother (grandmother’s stepmother) was totally white by 19. I think i’d like that, actually.

    Friday, November 7, 2003 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  5. sly wrote:

    dude, I found my first gray hairs maybe a year ago. And they don’t even do me the favor of being gray, they’re actually white. Ariel’s had em for a while, too.
    So now mom can really feel old 😉
    …And you can feel young!

    Friday, November 7, 2003 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  6. gus wrote:

    dude, sly, you have no idea how great it is for me to hear you begin a sentence with “dude.” My dude-frequency has risen precipitously since I started grad school, and I’ve had people pause quietly and snicker about it probably half a dozen times during conversations over the last few months. I’m starting to do it on purpose as prophylaxis against academese. (do you see what I mean?)

    I also said “blah blah blah blah, yo” recently and had someone boggle and then laugh his ass off… who was it… ah yes, very drunk guy from Indiana, at the “speed dating” event I attended about a month ago. “You said ‘yo,'” he said. As if people don’t say it every day. Specifically, I think I said, “If Schwarzenegger wins this election I’m going to nuke the motherfucking state, yo.” Perfectly grammatical usage.

    Sunday, November 9, 2003 at 12:45 am | Permalink
  7. jessamyn wrote:

    I would like to try to bring “dude” parlance back for the over-30 crowd but they seem to look at me funny when i say it while working at the library [which I do a LOT] that and calling my Dad “pops” which he hates but I just think is hilarious. Is it the holiday season already…? No grey hairs for me yet but it’s hard to really tell. Greg’s got a few of them with the resulting excuse that *I* gave them to him, imagine!

    Monday, November 10, 2003 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  8. sushiesque wrote:

    I’d actually love to see my hair turn totally white. Or maybe a big streak of white, but then I’d feel like I was in a comic book all the time.

    I’ve been trying to cut down on my “dude” usage, which I blame on leading an orientation group with Jen Howell.

    “Yo” is an acceptable and splendid way to add emphasis — in both English and Japanese, I might add.

    Monday, November 10, 2003 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  9. Kathleen wrote:

    My mother always said that when she started going grey at the temples, she’d just bleach two big white streaks in her hair and go for the “Bride of Frankenstein” look.
    It turns out she was lying, though.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2003 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  10. sad gal wrote:

    my sister found my first grey hairs…..correction….white hairs. im 15!!!!!

    Thursday, April 22, 2004 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  11. Sandy wrote:

    I’m a spinster…and i know that i will always be alone. My depression creeps in and fills my days and loneliness fills my nights. I try to fill the void of a real relationship with ones i find on the internet. And even tho havent lived up to expectation..but what did i expect? My looks wont last forever and my personality is only but a front…easily seen through and readily boring.

    Monday, July 19, 2004 at 12:28 am | Permalink