“Is this the craziest thing I’ve ever done?” I asked Kay.
“Yes,” she said, without hesitation.
“That’s just because you never do anything crazy,” Alex, the 16-year-old, chimed in.
Two days later, it is done.
This afternoon, I spent over an hour at a cool place in Arlington called Kelly’s Haircuts, which I found through mega-great reviews on Yelp. The creator of my new look was the owner, Kelly, who combed a lightish-brown dye into my all-gray and white hair and partially gray eyebrows, set a 35-minute timer and went off to cut another client’s hair.
Without my glasses on, I watched the slow, slightly blurred transformation in the mirror while spending time on my phone, hoping I’d not made a huge mistake. I looked, I thought, very strange with my hair slicked back with the goopy dye stuff that was changing my hair hue before my eyes.
In showing Kelly the look I was shooting for after walking through the door and meeting her, I pulled out my high school senior photo on my phone — the one taken just five months after I turned 16 in 1977, when my hair was a dark shade of brown. She assured me we could achieve it.
As I checked out, Kelly and her colleagues raved about the suddenly younger me. It’s really lighter than my hair’s ever been, but that’s OK.
In recent days as I considered the birthday coming up for me Sunday, my 60th, I’ve been apprehensive, dreading the number and telling Kay it’s “the beginning of the end.” (She will confirm that I can be a tad dramatic.)
Maybe it’s all the unwelcome health hiccups I’ve had the past few months: ruptured appendix, DVT/blood clot, kidney stones and, as it turns out from my hospital CT scan report that I finally got a look at this week, gallstones, too. Or the sheer fact that the number I’m staring at scares me more than any age I’ve hit. Way more than 50 did, and 55 sure didn’t give me the willies like 60 is.
All I can keep thinking about is how 80 is only 20 years off — the same amount of time plus one year I’ve been working at The Dallas Morning News as of this week (I actually started Feb. 29, 2000). Twenty years is the blink of an eye.
I’ve also never allowed myself to buy into the “age is just a number” and “60’s the new 40” assurances that our society loves to throw around and that friends who’ve gotten there before me espouse. But who knows, now that I’m about to cross that threshold, maybe I’ll jump on those bandwagons. Could be I’m just overreacting for nothing.
What I did today is so entirely unlike me. I’ve never been one to take chances, and Kay will tell you I’m far from impulsive or spontaneous.
But why not, I figure? I started going gray in my late 30s, progressed at a rapid pace, and with the exception of a few dark brown strands, have sported the Steve Martin look for over 10 years.
After finding my birth family in 2005, I learned premature graying has been hereditary for the Workmans and Campbells. I’m told that my late brother Robin, who passed away at 61 in early 2009 — just three and a half years after my three full siblings and I became a reunited family — began going gray at 21 in early 1969 when he came back from a year in Vietnam.
When I looked in the mirror at Kelly’s today after the deed was done, it was a real shock. At first, I thought I might have made a colossally regrettable life decision (not that I would say that to Kelly or her colleagues). I thought I would come off looking like someone having an old-guy crisis going out of his way to appear younger. I definitely don’t want to be that person.
And to some who’ve only known me as a grayhair, that may be the line of thinking. Our Will and Alex, born in 2001 and 2004, have only known Dad to be gray — old-looking enough that I’ve been mistaken for their grandfather a few times.
Thankfully, when I got home, Kay and the kids liked it (so they said). The longer I stared at the stranger in the mirror, the more I did too.
After finally getting in to see a urologist about my kidney stones first thing this morning (and to think, that event is secondary to the hair news), I’d actually gotten a haircut at the Pro Cuts where I’ve gone for years. Turns out the lady who cut my hair today also works part-time at Kelly’s and was excited to hear that I planned to get dyed there later.
Kay and Alex both said they think my new/old hair will look even better when it’s longer. I told Kay that I don’t even look like her husband anymore. Seriously, who is this impostor? After I gave her a kiss, she joked, “You even kiss better!”
I don’t know if I’ll keep the look long-term, but I’m going with it. I’ll be doing the dye upkeep myself, and if I get tired of doing it, I may let myself go back to being the “Wild and Crazy Guy” so many people have compared me to the past dozenish years.
But for now, you’ll be seeing this version of soon-to-be-60 Frank. Nice to meet you all!
P.S. Since some of you may be wondering about the urologist visit: We discussed the kidney stone I passed (which, TMI, I brought in for testing), the ones still lurking, the gallstones and the dietary changes I need to make. To be brief, the kidney stones are really too small to take action on (lithotripsy or anything more invasive), so we’re just going to let nature take its course. Hopefully drinking tons of water will help. And as I already knew, I need to try really hard (sniff, sniff) to cut back on sugars, sodium, processed foods, dairy (especially cheese and ice cream, both major staples in our family), meats and a few other no-nos and beef up (pun intended) on healthier stuff. So, basically what we all should be doing, right? All easier said than done with my lack of willpower, but I’ll give it my best shot!