When I was in St. John’s signing books at Chapters, I looked up to see a lovely and familiar face, my former college roommate. She hadn’t changed a bit. We hugged and laughed and chewed the fat for a while. Then the subject of my hair surfaced. In an awe-inspired, whispery tone she said to me, “You’re so brave.” Another woman said the same thing. In her mind leaving my whole life behind was an act of courage that paled in comparison to abandoning a bottle of hair dye.
Well, the bravery involved is certainly a matter for debate, but I’ll tell you one thing for sure: the brilliance of this move cannot be denied. Folks, I’ve cracked it wide open, stumbled upon a strategy to end all strategies. I’ve single handedly discovered a secret superpower: Grey hair. I stopped paying attention to my head and an unexpected treasure was laid at my feet.
Sure, I have more free time now that I don’t spend hours and hours disguising my nature. And speaking of free and spending, the financial benefits are obvious. But what’s less evident to the artificially coloured eye is the sheer usefulness of looking older. Now, whenever I do or say something a bit offside, I just point to my head with a slight air of resignation and just the perfect touch of feigned sadness and say, “Hormones.” Honestly, what can anyone possibly say in response to that?
I have no idea how the idea came to me but all I can say is that it’s staying with me. Public meltdown? “Menopause.” Need a seat in a crowded room? Add in a Kathryn Hepburn tremor and my arse is covered. Irrational rants? Confident flourish and a hand through the silver locks and everyone thinks I’m a poet. Flopsweat due to rapid ingestion of excessive amounts of chocolate and wine? “Hot flash.” Dramatic increase in husband nagging? “It’s The Change darling, The Change. It’ll all be over soon,” (note: this one may require tears for maximum effect).
I haven’t quite figured out what to do once I actually start experiencing menopause for real, but for now I’m milking this cow for all it’s worth. Essentially it’s a gateway to all kinds of deceptions. People take one look at me and assume me wise and insightful. They think I look incredibly fit for my age, often assumed to be 10 years more than my actual age. My wardrobe paints me as a rebellious and unusually hip old lady. Grooving along with The Clash blaring in my earbuds colours me eclectic. Neil thinks my hair somehow makes me I look like I have money. Now if I can dupe my own sugar daddy into that perception imagine the power I unleash on the rest of the world.
Yes, Helen (Mirren), Judi (Dench), Emmy-Lou (Harris), Christine (Lagarde) and I were sitting around the table the other day, sipping scotch from china tea cups, smoking Cohiba cigars and comparing notes. Their tricks of the grey trade are truly inspired. I’d reveal a few but then they’d have to kill me. We’re a very exclusive club — the few women of the world who dare to just say no to 150 shades of blonde. And trust me, membership has its privileges.