Call me crazy (some do), but I've been waiting with great anticipation for my first gray hair for years. Like other pivotal moments in a lifespan, I view it as more of a rite of passage than an alarm to old age.
Most of us are going to get gray hair; I'd be hard-pressed to name someone over 70 who hasn't had one. Heck, I'd be hard-pressed to name someone over 30 who hasn't had one.
And although often convincing, those who mask theirs with hair dye, aren't really fooling anyone either. Which is fine. I've only recently discovered my natural hair color since I'd been coloring/bleaching mine since the fifth grade.
So, a week or two ago, it finally happened. I was powdering my nose in the restroom here at work and with the assistance of the harsh overhead lighting that already makes one appear about 10 years older than they actually are, I spied it. There it was. All this waiting and here it was, all wiry, boldly staring me right in the face.
My natural reaction was a bit of panic, but I didn't scream, cry, break down or fall to my knees cursing time while taking a fast-forward look back at all the things I would have done different in life.
It was kind of like when I saw my first garter snake when I was a kid. I heard about these things, I was conditioned to fear them, but after the initial panic settled, I found myself intrigued.
And then, just like the snake, I felt like I wanted to pick it up. Well, in the case of the gray hair, I wanted to pluck it out. After I had stared at it for a good five minutes, I decided it was time for it to go. Let's be rational, I said I hadn't feared it as most do, but I wasn't going to let it hang out for the duration.
I'm just not ready yet. I'm often guessed much younger than I actually am and that kind of compliment gets me through some rough days from time to time. Call me vain. Go ahead. I don't mind.
But someday, I might be ready to wear my grays with pride. Many of those who do, wear it well. I've seen some very classy older ladies who have gray hair and those who are lucky enough to have white hair, you are my true source of envy.
After all the years I spent as a platinum blonde trying to bleach every last bit of pigment out of my hair, there's nothing I find more beautiful than a entire head of hair as white as snow - especially if there is some length to it. That's not to say short white or gray hair isn't beautiful, it's just that I have made a personal promise to myself to never chop mine all off in "mom haircut" no matter how convenient it is. It's the rebel in me I guess.
And don't even get me started on men.
For the love of God, I've said time and again, I have no idea why a man would ever stress about gray hair or - I can barely even type it - color their hair.
Honestly, fellas. Do you even understand how attractive you look when you start to turn gray? I know it's not just me - maybe I'm a little more enthusiastic about it than some - but there is something about that salt-and-pepper look that makes me weak in the knees.
There's a ruggedness about it no matter what walk of life the man may come from. Honestly, when I go to the drug store, I just want to take my arm and clear the shelves of all the "Just For Men" products in protest and in an attempt to discourage the use of such a thing.
Gentlemen, please don't do it. I'd find no greater disappointment than if I was seeing someone and I found out they dyed their hair, masking the beautiful metamorphosis of going gray.
To date, I've found three, count 'em, three gray hairs of my own, all of which I have yanked. And I'm sure there will be many more, but I'll deal with them as I see fit as time progresses just like the rest of the bonuses that come with aging.
One thing's certain, though, I have no fear now that they're here.
(Jenna Wasakoski is an assistant editor at The News-Item. Her column appears every Thursday.)