*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.*
When I was a teenager I started experimenting with hair color without my parent’s permission. When I was a junior in high school and only sixteen years old at the time, I got my first job and had my first paycheck that I could spend or save for anything I wanted. It didn’t take me long to go and find myself the perfect shade of fire-engine red to dye my blondish hair.
I slathered the dye onto my long, dry strands and waited the appropriate amount of time before stepping into the shower to rinse it out of my hair. Well, a few minutes later when I got in the shower and looked around, in the mirror, and at the bathtub, I was horrified to see that not only was my hair dyed red, but so was my skin and the entire bottom of the tub.
My skin I wasn’t worried about, and I thought my hair looked fabulous, but I knew my mom would have a fit over what I’d done to her bathroom. I got dressed and then down on my hands and knees with a washcloth and bottle of bleach and did what I could to scrub the red away but only managed to get it to fade to a bubble-gummy pink. Then, I had to face my mother and tell her what happened.
She was not happy about my hair and did not agree that it looked fabulous, and of course, she was downright angry about the bathtub. She forbid me from using any sort of dye like that in her bathroom again, and I obliged, waiting to wreck the bathtubs of the apartments I later rented instead.
My mom never punished me though, because when it came down to it she wanted me to be able to express myself however I wanted.
At the same time, my high school friend Kiki had the opposite experience with her parents. The only deviations in our story stem from the fact that she chose to color her hair blue which her mother found “unnatural” and therefore unacceptable.
Kiki’s mom told her that she had to bleach her hair or take her blue hair and move out. At sixteen years old, and a great high school student, Kiki didn’t want to move out, she wanted the support of her parents while she tried to get into college.
Thankfully, Kiki’s dad didn’t agree with his wife.
“You’re not kicking Kiki out, you can put that thought right out of your head,” he told his wife.
“Well, she still has to bleach her hair back,” she argued.
“No, she doesn’t.”
“I’m not going to have her seen with me out in public until her hair is no longer blue!” Kiki’s mom yelled.
Kiki’s dad walked out of the living room, leaving Kiki and her mom sitting awkwardly in silence, both of them fuming with anger. About ten minutes later, Kiki’s dad was back, and he was completely, totally bald. He had gone into the bathroom and shaved his head with the women in his life who were plotting their next arguments.
“What do you think of this?” Kiki’s dad asked his wife. “You going to kick me out now, too?”
Kiki’s mom apparently fled from the living room, crying as she went, and then Kiki and her dad hugged and had a laugh about it.
“I don’t care what your hair looks like, I will love you and want you here no matter what,” he told her.
What would you have done if you were our parents?