"How about if you dye just the gray so it looks like highlights?" I say.
"What color do you have in mind?" Shawna asks.
"Oh, whatever," I say, neglecting to mention that I actually visualize sun-kissed streaks, sort of Gloria Steinem circa 1967. "Maybe something golden."
Miss Deb is called in to consult, and whips out a page of hair swatches. "Now me," she says, "I'd take you all the way to Banana." From what I can see of the swatch, Banana is pure Crayola yellow. But I also see a wild conspiratorial gleam in Miss Deb's eyes. I ask myself: Do I want to settle for looking like any other aging, graying reporter? Or do I want to take one more walk on the wild side? I meet Miss Deb's eyes in the mirror.
"Banana," I say.
"All right!" she answers.
Shawna finds all this amusing. "And it'll probably turn out orange, ha ha, just kidding," she says. "Anyway, it's only semipermanent, so it'll fade."
"Are you sure?" I ask her, but I'm now alone under a hair dryer that smells oddly like boiled cabbage.
Thirty minutes later Shawna rinses the Banana out of my hair and scrubs hard at my forehead.
"So?" I ask her.
There is no reply.
Back at Shawna's station, I finally look in the mirror. I see--chicken curry.
"Eric?" Shawna asks pleadingly. "Come and look at this. Isn't this...cool?"
Eric runs a hand through my mustardy locks. "Did you want this?" he asks. Somebody's mother, the kind who wears two-sizes-too-small stretch pants and fries her hair into a stiff white-woman Afro, says: "Oh, I think it's kind of cute. It's not that bad."
More pink smocks approach.
"Whaddaya think?" I say defiantly.
Their mouths pop open and stay that way. Then one of them bravely asks, "Are you pissed? I'd be pissed."
"It was Miss Deb's idea," Shawna informs them.
"Miss Deb!" someone yells, a bit of panic creeping into her voice.
Miss Deb appears, grinning widely. "Ha!" she says, "I'd call that Banana!"
"But would you call it good-looking?" I ask.
"It's totally, entirely Banana! If it were permanent, I'd worry, but it'll wash out in a couple months, so who cares?"
In the meantime, life has seldom been more interesting. In certain fluorescent lights, my tresses have a greenish cast; no doubt people think I'm some kind of chlorine-wallowing athlete. The orange stain on my forehead is fading to a suave tan, always intriguing in the winter months. And my eyes have never been more...startling.
"Oh, you'll get to like it," Miss Deb had predicted, "you'll get to like it a lot."
She was right.