On their birthdays most grandpas don’t ask for exotic hair colors.
But my friend Ray Park wanted a birthday present he’d never had before: hair in shades you’d find in a Crayola crayons box.
Ask and you shall receive.
A week ago Ray’s wonderful wife Debby asked me if I would be interested in experimenting on Ray’s hair. Are Wednesdays wacky? Of course! I said, “Yes—I’ve been feeling an itch to dye someone’s hair!” This project brings to mind a twist on the 1963 song by Leslie Gore. “It’s my party and I’ll dye if I want to, dye if I want to, dye if I want to. You would dye too if you liked red and blue…”
My own hair is taking a break from the exotic hair colors because while delightfully fun, they take their toll on my hair’s health and Dried Straw wasn’t the look I wanted. Ray’s birthday wish scratches my itch to experiment and his quest for color. Win-win. This funny grandpa of two with the quick smile and twinkly eyes was about to change his look.
|Ray in his natural state.|
But let’s back up a few weeks. Ray had seen an eye-catching hair style on a musician and was intrigued by the colors in the man’s hair. Ray began to ponder trying something different with his own salt and pepper hair. But why leave out his beard? Ray’s beard is more salt than pepper (an excellent foundation for dye). As we discussed ideas, Ray’s eyes sparkled with enthusiasm. He envisioned rainbows, stripes and variety. When I asked Ray how he sees himself, he said he’s “evolving.” Although his work life was in science, his hobbies, including poetry and gardening, are on the creative side. His wife describes him as spontaneous, fun-loving and goofy. His personality is as colorful as the nickname he’s had for years: Raynbow.
Perhaps Ray’s interest in a new look shouldn’t be a surprise. Ray has explored his creative side with watercolor painting classes, landscape design courses, and stained glass making classes, among others. He and his wife sing with the La Jolla Symphony Chorale. So for a creative guy like Ray, a desire for expressive hair should not come as a true surprise. The only surprising part is that he hadn’t done it before. But perhaps the timing is perfect. Ray was inspired by the musician’s hair, Ray’s birthday was approaching, and Debby and I were chatting about hair color last week. The pieces came together. As I’ve said before, hair can be a canvas, and I happen to have a brush or two in my tool belt.
|When the dye first goes on it's very bright. Once it's rinsed out it becomes a lot more subtle.|
|This photo shows Ray's look after the first batch of color was applied. We ended up adding more blue to the sideburns.|
And so…to the colors. A few days ago I emailed Ray about whether he preferred temporary or permanent dye. Short-term options included using Kool Aid colors. Yes, the drink powder. It makes for bright, temporary hair color and has the added benefit of being very affordable. Plus, if you have leftover powder you can make drinks in less than a minute. But Ray preferred to jump in with true gusto and go for permanent color. We met yesterday to discuss ideas and today Ray and I collaborated on his new look. He opted not to bleach his hair white first, which would make the colors to pop more. “Semi-subtle” was his goal.
This week I didn’t do a Wacky Wednesday costume and yet I was given the opportunity to do a creative experiment nonetheless. Ray, thank you for asking to be my guinea pig. I’m flattered that you entrusted your hair to me and tickled that your family associates me with the kind of crazy fun you craved. When I’m a grandparent if I’m as fun-loving as you are, I’ll be satisfied. Happy birthday and happy hair play!