Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Gray matter is a gray area
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Oct 12, 2014
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A couple of years ago I stopped coloring my hair and invited Mother Nature to be my hairdresser. I’ve discovered that gray hair is admired . . . but never envied.


While I had hoped to look like pigment-less Helen Mirren or fleece-as-white-as-snow Paula Deen, in reality, I look a whole lot more like Carl Sandburg.


And it’s been a frumpy ride. Physics, geometry, and tin foil squares teamed up for my slow and subtle “highlighting” journey from dirty ash to 50 shades of gray (God’s graffiti). English writer P.G. Wodehouse once wrote that there’s really only one cure for the gray. “It was invented by a Frenchman,” he says. “It’s called the guillotine.”


In the 1950s only seven percent of American women dyed their hair. Today, there are parts of Dallas and Fort Worth where there are no gray-haired women at all. Back in my teens, I purposely bleached the pigment out of my hair because I heard that blondes had more fun. It must have worked because I had fun. No longer am I looking for thrills and whistles, though, and I’m saddened that at this stage in my life taut skin no longer flanks my feathers.


People probably look at me now and wonder why I left the nunnery. And they figure I own a lot of cats, too. If someone happens to say that I look good for my age, I want to reply, “Compared to what? A well-oiled baseball mitt?” Oscar Wilde once quipped, “Never trust a woman who reveals her true age.” That said, I’ll tell you…I’m 97.


How well I remember plucking the first gray hair I saw as I peered into the mirror! Then the other ones started coming like an avalanche of dirty snow. For years I fought the inevitable dark roots that appeared at the base of colored hair. In recent years, when the color was camouflaging the aging process, the gray roots made the darker strands look as if they were hanging in midair.


Ironically, today the new kicker in hair coloring is “ombre.” It’s really a dip-dye brigade where the darker roots reach half-way down the head and the lighter strands travel to the split ends. The first time I saw this combination was on the TV series “Blue Bloods.” At first, I thought Tom Selleck’s attorney daughter, Erin, had too busy a rehearsal schedule to bother with touching up her dark roots.


THEN I saw the same color wheel on more and more gals. Turns out, the savvy public sees it as an oh-so-chic effect. Who knew?

Probably like Carl Sandburg, my gray hair descended on me when I was asleep. It covered my head like a blanket of fresh snow. Carl said it best:


The fog comes on little cat feet…