Thursday, July 21, 2011

Step Right Up, and Feast Your Eyes on A PAIR OF REDHEADS!

In case you haven't noticed, my son Robinson and I both have red hair. If I ever forget that my red hair is an anomaly, there are plenty of strangers eager to remind me. As I've gotten older, and therefore more likely to go out with a ponytail pulled through a ball cap, people make fewer comments to me about my hair. But, now that I have a redheaded baby, we attract considerable attention. As the title of this post hints, I do at times feel like a bit of a freak show. Here are the odds of what's likely to happen if Robinson and I ever go out in public together:

9 out of 10: chance that someone will approach Robinson and strike up a conversation with him about his hair. Robinson can't talk of course, because he is a baby, so I stop checking the expiration dates on the milk in the dairy case and engage a stranger in a conversation about hair.
3 out of 4: chance that the person who approaches me will have a family history of red hair and will launch into a detailed account of their family tree, which members of their family have red hair, which generations the red hair skipped, and miscellaneous redhead topics, such as the occurrence of red hair with blue eyes versus red hair with brown eyes.
1 out of 10: chance that the person who approaches me will somehow insult red hair or pay a back-handed compliment.

Wal-Mart Employee: "My baby has red hair. Of course, he's all grown up now. He got to where he really hated it--said he got tired of everywhere he went he got noticed."
Me: [laughing] Yeah, I know the feeling.

Wal-Mart Employee sheepishly scurries away and pretends to rearrange the eggs in the dairy case.

Meow! I didn't realize until typing this that my reply was kind of pointed and catty. That was not my intention. I basically said it sucks that strangers (read: her) approach me everywhere I go because I have bright red hair. Then again, I was responding to her statement, which was basically, "My son has hair the same color as you--and he hates it." I'd call that an unintended insult. If you can think of a nicer way to respond to that, I'm all ears.

Another funny aspect of the "redhead conversation" is when a person who knows a redhead approaches me, and they like to discuss what I would call "the plight of the redhead". It's basically all the stereotypes about the "redhead experience", which they seem to  believe is universally shared by all redheads. They'll say things like, "I bet people gave you hell when you were a kid, but you like your hair now!" or "Ya know, redheads don't turn gray like so many other hair colors. Your hair color will probably just slowly fade," or "Have you ever noticed that most redheads are pasty and ugly?" or "Redheads bleed a lot when you cut them". All true. Seriously, whenever I am being prepped for surgery (as you do so often) and the nurses or surgical techs get a look at me and my copper locks, they shake their heads and say to one of the associates "No one told us she was a redhead. We're gonna need more blood."
If I sound like I dislike mine and my son's shared red hair, I don't. Nor do I mind that people approach us. My mom told me this would happen. She said grocery shopping took much longer with  Baby Samantha because people wanted to talk to her about my hair. And because every time a stranger approached me I wanted them to pick me up and take me with them. She had to keep a close eye on me. There are much worse things in life than being on the receiving end of positive attention. Added bonus: if (God forbid) something terrible happened to Robinson and me, like we went missing, and police were investigating our disappearance by retracing our last known whereabouts, I feel pretty confident that people at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Starbucks, etc. would remember us. I know, I know, that's a very morose place for my mind to wander...I'm just sayin'. I find comfort in being distinctive for that reason alone.

1 comment:

  1. Man, I bet y'all can't go anywhere without looky loos commenting on your pretty hair! I can relate ~~ I never imagined how much attention Barrett would get on his red hair, but we're less of an attraction that you and Rob, since my hair isn't also red.
    Except on Senior's Day at the grocery, that turns into an event -- all the sweet old ladies want to stop and talk about his hair.