Thursday, August 13, 2009

Calling All Redheads of Wellfleet!

At the library yesterday, amongst the usual cottage-for-rent and furniture-for-sale notices on the foyer bulletin board, I spied a sheet of paper with tear-able telephone numbers: RED HEADS WANTED FOR PHOTO SHOOT read the large print. “Between the ages of 1 year old and 18 years old, girls and boys, in Wellfleet area, anytime between August 10-16 and 22-30.” The photographer went on to specify that she was looking for a few redheaded kids to shoot for a “fun fashion” shoot and could offer a small stipend. The note was reminiscent of a similar summoning of Outer Cape redheads in the seventies. The photographer turned out to be Joel Meyerowitz who published his photos in Redheads, still available in paperback. (Anyone interested in Cathy’s shoot, should call the local number 3649.)

Red hair comes in a number of different shades. Mine is called Titian Blond. Guess which feature made this sixties teenager the most proud? My hair was long back then. I could swing it around the way models do in shampoo commercials. Clairol execs got it wrong: blonds do not have more fun; redheads do. No dye can provide the same stand-in-the-sun-and-sparkle. Before a shampoo, hairdressers would fluff up my hair in anticipation, parting it with reverence as if to say, "Now this is the true gift of gods." So many people admired what grew on my head that I began to believe I was special. I would comb my hair every morning with that Hollywood-starlet glint in the eye. Then, one horrific morning, reality stuck. The toothbrush dangled from my mouth as I stared with disbelief at my reflection. My hair was no longer glossy. The shine had disappeared. Uh-oh. Had I become too complacent? Was I over-satisfied with my looks? What had I done to lose my “oh-so-beautiful” hair? Medical tests soon revealed an underactive thyroid. I have had this condition for almost twenty years now and believe it’s the result of the radioactive cloud that passed over France after Chernobyl. An incredible number of my friends in France have developed the same health problem …