Blonde Like Me 

Why would a different hair color make my husband enjoy me more when nothing else about me had changed?

And even now, it wasn't a decision weighed and made. It was an accident. We overdid a well-water cleaning by dumping in eight gallons of bleach instead of the recommended one or two. It took three days to flush it all out of the pipes, even after running the faucets for hours. I stepped in the shower after an inadequate flushing and it was more a HAZMAT incident than a shampoo. When I removed the towel, all the brown dye that had been hiding my gray hairs was gone.

The two choices were more brown dye or go with the flow and frost what was left.

The result was startling for someone who had always seen a mousy brunette reflected in the mirror, although not outrageous enough to put on a hat and run to the drugstore for some L'Oreal Medium Golden Brown. My husband was only mildly surprised to see a blonde pass through the living room. I offered to change it back, but he said keep it, and never gave it another review. Given his Star Trek tastes, I would have been more exciting if I had entered sporting Vulcan ears or had been decked out in Borg armament, chanting, "Prepare to be assimilated."

Not everyone has been as bored with my transformation. Family members, not warned of the change, shouted, "Blondie!" and "Marilyn Monroe!" when I showed up at a dinner.

A blonde co-worker gave me an approving review — "So you're one of us now!" — as if I had answered the altar call at the Church of Saint Britney and become a born-again bombshell.

At another gathering, my husband's male friends also reacted positively, commenting that my husband must be "enjoying" it.

That was certainly cause for reflection and thought, qualities I am still capable of despite my blondeness. Why would a different hair color make my husband enjoy me more when nothing else about me had changed?

The issue was addressed that same evening on a rerun of "All in the Family" where the very blonde Gloria comes home in a short, brunette wig she purchased as a lark. Mike is slammed with renewed sexual desire for her and is insistent she wear the wig to bed. I suppose this is true. Anything that creates a difference equates as a "different woman" in a man's little brain, and we all know men like different women. Their major, prevailing and only necessary reason for philandering is that the other woman is another woman. That's enough to qualify as a temptation.

Being the other woman in my own relationship has not been as exciting as television sitcoms imply. When I married the same guy I had been living with for six years recently, everyone greeted me with, "How does it feel to be married?" Well, it is no different, so I guess for my husband there has also been no profound change in being with the same woman, even one who has undergone a minor adjustment.

But outside, I have noticed a change. Normally my driving skills provoke road rage from fellow travelers, but lately, not as much. When I turned unexpectedly in front of a van driven by another blonde woman, she greeted my affront with a cheery wave, as if we were all blondes here and it's all good. I am in The Club now and the secret handshake of The Club is blondes don't go ballistic on other blondes' asses.

Brunettes go ballistic on other blondes' asses. I was stumbling around the office break room, seeking a sugar fix, when a brunette in for a training session turned to me frostily and said, "Is every woman in this building a blonde? Because it sure seems that way." She was taking it as an affront. Since I still think of myself as a brunette, I was about to offer myself as proof her statement wasn't true, but then … wait. I am One of Them now, a member of the superior society of Jedi Lights, empowered by blondeness to be … what? Different from you. Is that a problem? Apparently so.

Meanwhile, I run into a male acquaintance at a place of business that hasn't seen me since the transformation, and of course, he comments that I did something with my hair. Yes, I did, I agree.

"What does your husband think?" he asks, in a tone of voice you normally hear only from anonymous callers asking, "What are you wearing?"

"Why, it doesn't bother him," I say, embarrassed. "He says it's all right."

The leerer is disappointed. He was expecting maybe a hot tale about my love life suddenly coming to a boil? Wild sex in unexpected places at unexpected times? When we had never discussed my love life or husband before? What's going on here? It's just hair.

But it's hair of a color that has created its own powerful mystique. It's not just me hiding gray in a different way. It's a perception that I have … what? Evolved into a superior life form, peeling off my brunette mask, like a Scooby-Doo plot resolution, revealing myself to actually be an alien from the planet of Erotica? And I am here to seize your libido and take you on a sensual voyage where no man has gone before.

Now that scenario might actually interest my husband.

Mariane Matera is a free-lance writer who lives in Richmond.

Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.


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