My teenage life was like any average Utah girl had in the 1980’s. Best friends, school, permed hair, boys, white Levis, the Thompson Twins, Foreigner and lots of lessons and moments to help prepare me for life. I honestly wouldn’t go back to those years and change a thing because it all helped shape me into the woman and mother I would one day become. Even the mistakes. They were choices I chose and even if, at the time, my parents or others thought I was losing a grip my usual, super responsible self, it all ended well.
One mistake, however, sticks out in my mind — and it wasn’t even actually mine. One of my best friends, on a really irrational whim, decided she needed purple hair. I’m sure we talked about the reasons why purple hair was a good idea. I’m really certain I even encouraged the idea. I DO love purple. I’m also sure she didn’t think it through any further than looking in the mirror and how purple would truly compliment her lovely blue eyes and dark lashes. Purple hair dye wasn’t as common in the 80’s as it is now and you had to really look hard at special hair salons to buy the stuff. But she found some and so late one Sunday night, after her parents had gone to bed, there she stood in the bathroom with a plastic squeeze bottle in one hand, a heart full of anticipation and she went for it! Applying the dye was easy. Spreading it around was no different than shampooing her hair. She left the color on for the required 20 minutes (and she said that felt like forever!). She knew she would have to go to bed with wet hair because any noise out of the ordinary wake her mom for sure, so she rinsed it quickly in the shower and headed to bed. A quick glance in the mirror and she could tell her mission was accomplished! Even wet, she could tell her purple hair was going to be a huge hit!
Monday morning came, as it always does, and she dragged herself out of her bed at 6 a.m. For a quick second she forgot about her hair dye adventure but then she noticed her pillowcase wasn’t white. It was purple where she had slept. She didn’t expect that! She ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and her hair was still purple. Whew! But so were the tops of her ears, as she looked closer. And when she pulled up her hair, she noticed that both hands were…..yes, purple. Her fingernails had an indigo hue to them, including under the nails. Wasn’t this HAIR dye? Why was her skin dyed, too? Her stomach sunk a little, but she was still excited for the hair so she just did the best she could to wash her hands and then got ready for the day. Scurrying out the front door past her mom and dad, late as usual, she managed to yell her normal rushed goodbye and the purple wasn’t seen by the parental units. Another whew!
I will admit, the purple was a very rich, pretty color. She did get a lot of attention at school. Some of it positive and some of it not-so-positive from teachers, but she had expected that to happen. It was a great day, in spite of her purple hands. After school, she knew she wouldn’t be able to hide her hair, so when she got home, she took a deep breath and opened her front door. Her mom immediately called her into the bathroom. She knew she was about to get a lecture on the reasons why NOT to do such things without permission. She was wrong. Instead, she got a glare from her mom and saw the bathroom in a new light. A non-hurried light. A purple light. Somehow, in her haste of the morning and night before, she had missed it. Ears and hands weren’t the only things that had accidentally turned purple. Small purple blobs and spots were visible on the white tile countertops (and even in some of the grout), the walls, the floor, the mirror. The towel she had used the night before was in the dirty clothes hamper on top of some of her other dirty laundry. Her favorite light blue sweater was now light blue with a very large, very permanent purple stain all over the front. I’ll let you imagine how the rest of the afternoon, week and month went at home for my poor friend. Cleaning and scrubbing and painting and bit of grounding was involved. There was also another unexpected outcome. When you aren’t a professional cosmetologist (or haven’t even really observed the hair dyeing process, for that matter), doing it yourself might leave you with uneven color. And as the color fades (it fades???), it can be really difficult to cover back up with your natural color. And it can take MONTHS for the faded dye look to completely disappear. And you might end up really hating the color purple after the whole ordeal. Over time, of course my friend moved past her purple hair moment. Her parents forgave her the mess and I’m sure they even laugh about it. The purple hair moment was just that…a moment. One mistake during a lifetime of others.
Some mistakes are secret and others are known to everyone. Some are life changing and others are a blip on the radar and quickly forgotten. No matter the mistake, we all make them and they are part of life and learning. So (even if they are messy) I say, don’t worry too much about purple hair moments. May we have them, learn from them and move on.
“A life spent
is not only more honorable,
but more useful than
a life spent doing nothing.”
~ George Bernard Shaw