When I decided to color my hair, it was not because I suddenly had a desire to be a blonde bombshell or a foxy redhead. As a 50-something-year-old, it would have taken more than a bottle of hair dye to transform me into a bombshell or a fox. I suspect it would have taken full body liposuction and a stupendously gifted fairy godmother. Fortunately, all I really wanted to do was cover the gray that was waging a war with the brunette follicles on my head.

While most of my friends had the good sense to go to a salon to color their hair, I thought I could efficiently handle the problem myself. I figured using one of those “washes out in 28 shampoos” colors at home was a better plan because, a) it was a lot cheaper, and b) if I screwed up the color, I only had to live with it for a month.

That said, one does not necessarily want to live with pumpkin-colored hair for a month.

Yes, that was the color of my hair after deciding to try a “Medium Warm Brown” version of my regular hair color.

Who knew “warm” was actually a euphemism for “orange?”

Although my impulse was to immediately go get a darker color and repeat the process, good sense intervened when I realized there was a chance that two dye jobs in a row could leave me with an even worse result: No hair at all.

So, I called the Hair Color Emergency Hotline.

“I’m calling to report a hair color emergency,” I announced.

“What is the nature of your problem?” asked the Hair Color EMT on the other end.

“My hair is orange,” I reported.

“Is it brown or blonde with orange highlights or full-on orange,” he asked.

“Full on orange,” I responded morosely.

“Is it cantaloupe orange, geranium orange or sunset orange?” he wondered.

“Is there a distinction?” I asked impatiently

“Well, yes,” he insisted. “Cantaloupe orange is a true, iridescent orange. Geranium orange has yellow highlights mixed in, and sunset orange has red undertones. If we diagnose the wrong orange, we might prescribe the wrong antidote and you could end up in Hair Intensive Care.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” I agreed.

“Hair dialysis never is.”

“Cantaloupe orange,” I finally said, assessing my iridescent color in the mirror.

“Got it. That is a Code 242 Shocking Orange Hair Color Emergency!” He said.

“Okay, well, I need a hair color intervention,” I replied. “I want to be medium brown not cantaloupe orange.”
“No problem,” he assured me. “You need to go purchase the Ash Brown hair color, mix it with 1/3 shampoo, and reapply to your hair.”

“Is that it?” I asked, relieved that my stint as a jack-o’-lantern was about to come to a close.

“Oh, and don’t leave it on for more that 15 minutes,” he added as I was hanging up.

I ran back to the drug store to get the antidote hair color, but by the time I got home, I had forgotten the hair color EMTs parting words of caution. Believing that longer would be better; I left the hair color on for half an hour. I took it as a good sign that the gel on my hair was really dark. Given the options, I decided I would rather blend in with the night than glow in the dark.

But when I rinsed it out, it wasn’t brown or black.

It was purple.

Shaking my blueberry-hued head in disbelief, I picked up the phone.

“Is it Eggplant purple, Concord Grape, or Lilac?” asked the Hair Color EMT.

“Eggplant purple,” I said definitively.

“Hmmm,” he drawled. “Good luck with that one.”
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