Being gray doesn't bother me. After all, at least I still have a full head of hair. I don't have to do comb-overs, shave my head or wear a baseball cap backward 24 hours a day to pretend that I still have hair.
Plus, gray hair looks distinguished. Strangers might mistake me for a doctor, a lawyer or even a high school graduate. At least they might, until I open my mouth and they realize that they've been cruelly deceived.
The fact is that gray hair just means you've got a little age under your belt. But like many men, for years I thought my hair had magical, mystical, Samson-like powers. It must have been easy for Charlton Heston to command the Red Sea to open; after all, he had such a magnificent mane of thick, beautiful gray hair.
"Who's going to get the promotion?" "Let's give it to the guy with the great hair."
"Who's going to get into this exclusive nightclub?" "That guy. He's got the best hair."
"Who's dating that supermodel?" "The guy over there with the nice hair."
The best thing about having gray hair is that it freaks out teenagers. Gray hair bothers them almost as much as nose rings and tongue studs bother me. Sometimes I point at my head and say, "This will be you in 30 years." They freak out.
Gray hair can be rewarding. I'm always getting senior discounts at stores where all the cashiers are teenagers. Though I'm still a few years away from qualifying for most discount programs, teens see the gray hair and figure I must be getting birthday wishes from Al Roker. Teens would certainly be surprised to learn the accomplishments of many gray-headed people. Do they know that it was a person with gray hair who invented the light bulb and the phonograph? Do they know that it was a person with gray hair who built the local shopping mall? Do they know that it was a person with gray hair who invented the cellphone? Well, maybe it wasn't. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't a teenager.
That's why I'm immune to those TV commercials for hair products that color "only" the gray -- gradually, over time, so no one will notice. Sure, no one will notice -- if you work at home and your job is being a hermit. However, if you have a real job at a factory or an office, people will notice. They may not say anything, but they will notice. I worked at an ad agency once where a gray-haired proofreader named Brian took a month-long vacation and came back as Betsy. No one said anything about the sex change, but everyone noticed that she was suddenly a blonde.
Unfortunately, the fantasy that my gray hair is an asset was cruelly shattered yesterday when a short, fat man wearing a spectacularly ugly Hawaiian shirt two sizes too big for him came up to me at a neighborhood get-together and introduced himself. He had a boil on the end of his nose, hair coming out of his nose and ears, a distracting piece of food sticking to his teeth on the left side of his mouth, a tic in one eye and he reeked of non-craft beer. His hair, however, was the same gray as mine, and it was cut the same. It was spectacular.
"I can't tell you," he hiccupped, "how many people mistake me for you."
Now I'm wondering if there is a product out there that will make me go bald. Slowly, over time, so no one will notice.