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As a man: Youth to 'dye' for

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 1:00 AM

There was a time when I thought that most women did not get grey hairs as they grew older. Although I cannot pinpoint the stage in my life, I must have been rather young - but I do remember noticing a major difference between older men and women whom I assumed would be in the same age group.

The men would have various levels of grey in their hair, while the women generally would not. As a youngster, I just thought that it was a basic difference between men and women and that was that.

A few things changed that. One was I got tall enough to see the roots of women's hair, and at times, saw a couple of greys at the roots. Another was that fewer older men were going grey. There was no one who was grey one day and dramatically all black when I next saw them, but at some point, I learnt about hair dye and, voila! Another mystery of grown-ups solved.

Grey hair is the first and most stark indicator of ageing which, unfortunately, is often taken as a loss of youth and vitality rather than gaining maturity, wisdom, and, hopefully, a legacy of accomplishments. So some people believe they must be resisted at all costs. There are men who take the 'egghead' approach - they shave off all facial hair except the eyebrows (and those stay suspiciously black), no beard, no moustache, nothing on the cheeks. The effect is startlingly smooth; the head is an oval interrupted at points by eyes and mouth which open and shut regularly and the nostrils always open.

Other men skip the razor and just go for the bottle which releases really black hair. Not just black, but black. The kind of black that is on a new car. The kind of black that comes out of a paint can. The black when you wake up at night during a power cut and panic, thinking that you suddenly went blind. The kind of black that was never someone's hair colour in the first place.

Women have more options

Women have more grey concealment options than men, They don't have to go black, and there are all sorts of colours to choose from, which seem perfectly natural on them. A 50-year-old man sporting copper tresses would just not seem right, would it? But women can sport shades of red, brown, put in gold streaks and more. Heck, they don't have to stick with their own hair. All they have to do is cut theirs low (or cane row it), slap on a wig, step out and smile.

In the men's favour, though, is the improvement in hair dye over time. No longer does a man who dyes have to walk with an umbrella, in case a sudden shower gives his shirt collar the shoe polish treatment. Still, there is the red effect - when the dye starts to wear out and needs another application. There was a point when many a redhead men were walking around.

I wonder, though, when a man in 'dyer' circumstances picks up a little chick and things progress to the point where he allows her to see him getting his black on how she really reacts. Not to his face and jet black hair (and wallet), but deep down inside. Does she snicker a bit and think this big man is really trying hard to fool himself and hold back the inevitable? And does she have a point of colour comparison with other hairs in lower places, which puts the upper one in a different perspective?

Yeah, younger in one head, older round the other.

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com