LC Van Savage
I’d already finished my nap, had eaten the soggy paper bag full of soggy airplane food, read a couple of pages of that slick airplane magazine, stretched, and began to look idly around at the other passengers. We were all flying to San Antonio, Texas.
With nothing better to do, I became very interested in all those heads stretching out before me like rows of hairy bowling balls. Loads and loads of heads. No necks or shoulders. Just heads.
And what a variety there was. Have you ever noticed heads in airplanes? Fascinating. Absorbing. On this particular flight there were a lot of fresh, shiny, clean, razor-pressed and very, oh very young military guys on their way to Fort Sam Houston in Sanantone. Their heads, shaved to the skull, sticking up from the rows of seats ahead of me like so many Kiwi fruits, were really quite intriguing.
It was obvious those kids had had a scuffle or two in their lives. There were a vast variety of scars all over their young skulls, some tiny, some long, some round, some not, all somewhat white-ish. One guy had a row of scars that looked exactly like the Aleutian Islands running roughly from the crown of his head down and behind his right ear. Another kid had obviously been blasted with buckshot, but only a little. Another had a couple of scars shaped like Maine and Idaho, another had a scar shaped like a headless ostrich, another like John Gielgud’s profile, and another had a group of scars that made a rather credible smiley face.
It all got kind of funny, in my idle boredom up there in the clouds, and I smiled as I began to see lots of faces and small mammal shapes (and a couple of reptile) in the scar designs on the backs and tops of the heads of those kids sworn to protect our flag.
Tiring of that, I began to wonder how many people on that plane colored their hair, and was surprised to discover that it appeared most did, or seemed to, and some of them, of course, were males. I’m not talking about the token green and vivid blue, yellow and pink clumpings on the tops of the heads of the younger passengers bent on "expressing" themselves. I was more interested in the large group of adults who had added color to their locks, for reasons known best to them; ego, change of personality, search for eternal youth, hide the grey, witness protection program, or ego.
And why not? What nature can’t do, one’s hairdresser certainly can, after, of course, crossing his/her latex-clad palm with silver. (Or better, paper.) And one can even change one’s hair color one’s self after the tedium of selecting the perfect color after a long session in a store standing before hundreds of boxes of hair color choices. (As for me, I’ve always hankered toward the Farah Faucet mane. I think it’d look very smart on me.)
There were so many colors of hair on that plane, but I’ll say that a reddish cast was the most popular, with outright blonde a close second. Shoe polish black on some, shoe polish brown on others. Everyone’s dying their hair these days, all the sexes, and most people are very open about it, but when I was growing up, to hit the dye pots and to color one’s hair was just simply scandalous. The proper people who gossiped about who was doing it often called it "assisting" one’s hair color. And only women did it and many assisted their hair with colors far past the years when those colors, had they been natural in the first place, would normally have faded into memory.
I so well remember little old ladies in (and out of) my family, many barely able to stand, most unable to blow out even one of the dozens of candles on their birthday cakes, but still having vermilion hair. Or glowing auburn. Or schoolbus yellow. Or charcoal black. Or mud brown, all colors garishly contrasting with their ancient, pale and wrinkled faces. But you know, it made those ladies very happy and it made them feel young, so, so what if they looked pathetic and weird to the rest of their purist peers who "wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing"? When those old gals back then, or even now, look into their mirrors and see someone youthful looking back, I say "you GO girl!"
Women back then, I remember, would often go on a long vacation and would frequently return with a brand new hair color, and if anyone asked if they’d assisted their hair while away, they always said "oh heavens no. I guess I only look different because I got a really good rest on my trip." Right-e-o.
It was interesting and fun, sizing up all those crania on my way to San Antonio, Texas. By now you’ve guessed that I’d forgotten my book.
LC’s book of poetry, "LC’s Take – Poetry – I" is at local bookstores.
Hear her on "Arts Talk with Ann and LC" on WMPG-FM, 90.9 or 104.1
Weds at 11-11:30 AM,
or over the Internet at www.wmpg.org.
Email her at email@example.com.