Tonight I sit at this screen with a scalp full of goop that will, upon vicious scrubbing, change the color of my hair from brown to bright red. It has taken me almost a year to grow out the back of my head that had been shaved to the skin in an effort to curb the hot summer and, perhaps, to make people stare a little longer as I pass by. I decided to grow it out because my roommate Rhonda moved to Boston and now there's no one home at night when I would normally ask to lean over the kitchen trash can and have 2 weeks worth of growth stripped with my clippers. Secondly, I felt I was outgrowing the whole look; I wanted to look more mature. Girls in gangs, I was told, shave their heads this way

When this was decided, I also made efforts to get all the dye out that I had put in once a month to keep it any hue but the natural one of medium brown. I have dyed it red since freshman year in high school , give or take some battles with blue-black in between. My hair was suffering from my inability to be consistent, patient, or focused on things outside of my general appearance. I always thought I looked too plain.

I normally don't go to a salon to get a trim, since I never feel a clean or upstanding enough citizen to pay $20 bucks for some stranger to pretend that they're really interested in the answers their questions produce: how am I today, how would I like my hair to look, where do I work, and do I ever use leave-in conditioner. I'd rather get a friend to do it in the intimacy of her kitchen and take my chances.

I'm trying not to look at my sudden choice to dye my hair again as cheating, but rather, a reaction to changes in my recent thought processes that has, in the past, left me feeling a bit refreshed, newer, changed. It's not as though I am a major hair styling aficionado, since my work conditions prevent much creativity (see rage: world's best premium lightweight filler) and because work is pretty much my life insofar as other humans are concerned, I'm not interested in looking any certain way. This is strictly for me, an easy augmenting device to spruce up my self-image, something that is always in some degree of re-construction.

I ponder more about the things men do to change their hair than all the things of which women are renown. Facial hair artistry aside, I note the frostings, the long Goth black dyes, the partial or fully shaved scalps. It is hard for me to take serious any man who at some point, in standing in front of his bathroom mirror with dye-stained rubber gloves, fussing about the ink in his ears, the stains on the back of his neck. Nothing brings more scoffs from me than a man whose locks are so bleached that his whole complexion appears orange by comparison. It makes me think that their concerns about their look are over-indulged, superfluous. I prefer the simplicity of a man's style because he can get away with it, he can more often than not, be as he was born. Men who don't destroy their hair are often more touchable, all around. I suppose that's why a properly shaved head is the most desirable of these options. It connotes the simplicity of purpose that men exude for me, a cleansing, esthetic.

It is no secret that I abhor blondes, females mostly, because, if they are bottle blondes, these women seem to be seeking a unified image that the blonde stereotype creates. I have a whole Blonde Theory if you're the least bit interested. And red head guys, or at least the ones I've encountered, just seemed too synthetic to me, too high maintenance. Genetics, sadly, are seldom on their side.

Despite the fact that I consider myself fairly open minded about appearances (living around the French Quarter usually helps), the outrageous Crayola dyes have always seemed a lost cause, since they fade so quickly and never hold their initial shock without an exorbitant amount of effort and cost, neither of which seem attractive, regardless of the sex of the wearer. There is a time and place for such things, but I've now outgrown the desire to shock people or create a fast paced and short-lived shelf life of trends. To each his own.

So now I am, again a red head. My new tan is accentuated. The circles under my eyes are no longer the focal point of my face. I feel like I'm ready to tackle a little bit more today than yesterday. Not bad for $8.99. I'll take my inspiration any way I can.

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