Blonde state of mind

Dear unknown cop in the subway, who keeps staring at me like there is no tomorrow.
Don’t think I did not notice that you took a ride just to make sure that I was the same girl you had gone out on a date so many years ago. Don’t think I don’t know why you got off at the same stop as me, or why you wanted to say hello. I have not forgotten your face either. I just can’t get over the fact that a little unknown man would shape part of my life with just one thoughtless comment.
I have always loved blond hair. I don’t know if it was because I was blond as a child and felt cheated when my hair turned brown in puberty. Or maybe because true blond hair is relatively rare in my country and therefore much prized.
As I grew up, Marilyn and her figure entered the picture and I was hooked once more in the whole blonde thing. I wanted the bust, I wanted the glamour, I wanted the big platinum hair and the attention. But of course, being blonde was also risque. People classified a blonde girl automatically as one of “those”. If a good girl from a good family with honest brown hair turned blonde overnight, she “had done something”, “gotten off the handle” and was possibly “beyond redemption”.
My family didn’t help. My mother and grandmothers all belonged to the “water and soap” school of beauty for good girls. They gave me good genes, and that should have been more than enough for me. The more my grandma boasted of how her genes were too strong and had won over the blonde side of the family, the more I despaired. The stinging sarcastic comments of my cousins didn’t help. I could not bear to be defined as “sheep/goat hair”, “spotted cow” “peroxide washed brains”, “Factory blonde” and other endearing terms usually used for blonde-ish and blonde-wannabes around us.
But I wanted to be a blonde.
So I started surreptitiously. Unfortunately, various experiments with chamomile tea, lemon juice and sun, beer and mayonnaise did not help. My hair became shiny and soft, but it still had the wooly brown qualities I was waiting so hard to get rid of. By the time democracy came and hair color finally lost its stigma, I was all ready for the bottled gold of Revlon and Wella. Still, I aimed to be “classy” and “natural” (like ignoring dark roots and burnt ends was the right way to go).
By the time I came to the US, I had achieved the epitome of what I thought of as beauty. I had long blondish big hair, I could fit into a 6, and wore miniskirts with black tights in winter to great success.I could blend in with the blond-haired, true Americans in TV! Just like Madonna and Pamela Anderson.
Instead, New York in the 90ies appeared straight out of puritan country with girls in long pencil skirts, high thick heels and turtlenecks. There was a visible effort to hide boobs and iron hair within an inch of their life. All I had gotten right was the blonde (but highlights) and monochromatic outfits.
Anyway, I had pretty much acclimatized, when you and I met one St Patrick’s eve, drinks in hand and coy smiles on our lips. You asked me out and I said yes. I confess that I have always had a weakness for men in uniform. I wore my best short skirt, heels and made my highlighted hair fall in ringlets around my face. So there I was at an American bar, with American style hair, having an American date with American beer and an American boy. Yay me!
Then you asked me why all Eastern European girls had a tendency to dress in short black skirts, dye their hair blond and curl it like it was 1985. All my American dream came shattering down. Why was it so easy to detect me, single me out and group me with Eastern European girls? I wasn’t American enough for you?
Shallow, I know. But I cut my hair within an inch of their life during the following week. Time for a change, I said. My hair needed a rest, I said. It was too expensive. Hard to maintain. Men did not like long blond hair anyway. So passe.
As the years went, I also went through different styles, colors and dates. Did not dare to go blonde again for the longest. I could not pull it off without looking Eastern European. Or gypsy.
But then I said what the heck! let’s make myself happy again. Changing for other people did not bring me second dates, intelligent boyfriends or better paying jobs. I became American but it wasn’t because of my hair. And peroxide did not interfere with my brainwaves, neither did tinfoil wraps. It was expensive, but then I have never been much at saving money.
So I changed back into a blonde. I felt like coming home. I like my hair color, I like my curls, I like the sensation. I don’t care if people think I am Polish, Russian, Moldavian, or just stuck in the 80ies. My friends and family still love me. And the dates are about the same.
And then today, you my dear tormentor appear again. You look at me increduously because I have the same exact big blond hair, black sequined mini and black coat on. I know you like what you see, because it is not only the novelty that made you jump into the train and stare at me like there is no tomorrow. I know I look smashing because many commuters are stealing glances as well in that stealthy New York way. When men do it, it merely means that I am sexy, but when women do it, it means that I am truly beautiful.
Which is why I feel so great ignoring you. Vindicated at last.
Then I understand that it does not even matter anymore. I like myself and what I have become. And everything else can go hang itself. Or drink with itself if it can stand itself. I have a whole Holiday season to celebrate my return to myself, even if it is out of a bottle.


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