It started last year. One morning I looked in the mirror and saw gray, gray, and more gray. My gray hair made me feel, behave, and look old. Now I’ve seen women who look very attractive with gray hair. A friend of mine had a full head of beautiful prematurely gray hair before she was 50. Her gray hair was beautiful. Also I like gray hair with a silver tint. The women who had the silver tints looked distinguishd, confident, and dignified.

But for me, gray hair and I didn’t agree.

I asked my barber who had been cutting my hair for years what could he do for me. He told me he had a red rinse called Cherry Coke, which would look good on me. He said he used it on a lot of women. OK, I said. I thought back to my heyday (before I was married). I was a redhead then-maybe red hair would be good for me now.

The barber gave me the red rinse. Afterwards, I received a lot of compliments. My husband liked my red hair. My neighbor said, “Keep on doing what you’re doing; your hair looks nice.” She said she might consider rinsing her hair when her time came. A friend said the color brought out my skin tone. Another friend who came to visit said I had taken 10 years off my age. As far as I was concerned, there was no better compliment than that.

When it was time to have a second rinse, I was ready to look beautiful again. But things didn’t work out that way. The barber couldn’t remember the name of the rinse, and I couldn’t remember the name either. He said the last time I was at the shop he had two rinses, Cherry Coke and Red Strawberry.

“It had to be one or the other,” he said.

He squeezed a little bit of each on my forefinger and asked me to choose. One was dark red and the other a light red. I chose the light red.

After he shampooed my hair, we both knew I had selected the wrong color. A section of my hair looked as if it was on fire. Another section of my hair was a light orange. This was the result of putting the Red Strawberry rinse on top of the Cherry Coke rinse.

Even so, I wasn’t too disappointed about not getting my hair the color I wanted. I smiled. I had come of age; I could appreciate what older women will accept when changing their hair. I remembered an elderly lady from my youth who had blue hair. It seemed strange to me at the time that a woman would have blue hair. I believed now she settled on blue hair rather than spend extra time in the beauty shop getting the right color.

Months later, here I was for the third time at the barbershop. I was happy this time because we knew to use Cherry Coke rinse instead of the Red Strawberry rinse. I immediately sat in the barber’s vacant chair thinking that the Cherry Coke would solve the problem. He started the progress of coloring my hair.

When he was finished, my hair looked like Dennis Rodman’s when he had his hair in multiple colors. The sections of my hair that were gray were now pink. The sections of my hair that were mostly black were purple. Using the Cherry Coke rinse on top of the Red Strawberry rinse didn’t solve the problem.

“I know what you want, ” the barber said. “But the only way to get it is to use a red dye. If you can wait, I’ll redo your hair.” No, I answered, because I didn’t want to take the time to suffer for beauty. I remembered beauticians from my heyday who worked me in between customers for four, five or more hours until the right color was achieved. I remembered leaving the beautyshop at midnight or later.

As I searched in my purse for the money to pay the barber, I was thinking there wasn’t anything to do, but live with it until next time.