It’s Not Easy Being Green

November 15, 2008 at 12:10 am (Clairissa, Waxing Nostalgic)

It had been a long time. I’d forgotten what it’s like to be teased about the color of my hair.

I really did it up for Halloween, got my Clown on, but there were lasting side-effects, namely bright green hair. It’s been a real conversation starter, and mostly fun. But even in Portland Oregon, in the year of our lord 2008, some people have never seen (or just don’t ‘get’) hair that isn’t brown or blonde.

I think I met most of them.

I was born with punk-rock hair. Shiny copper at first, it took on an orange hue as I grew into teenhood. (I could relate to Danny Partridge.) Once I was out from under parental thumbs I let it grow, and attained a Robert Plant/Sammy Hagar look by the time I turned eighteen. I experimented, as kids that age do. I got a David Bowie haircut, but it looked better on him than I. During my uber-fat phase I had a mullet, but wore a hat so you couldn’t tell. Around the year 2000, I started wearing it short. I’ve come to like it; the shorter the better. For one thing, my head is no longer flabbly, so I have no ‘package of hot dogs’ to hide. It must be an old guy thing; I swore I’d never wear my current length if I had anything to say about it. Now I can’t wait to get it cut again.

That could have something to do with my barber...

She warned me beforehand that the color was permanent, at least until the roots grew out. No problem, I said. I’ll just cut it off to nothing, and no one will notice, right?

So not right.

If anything, it made things greener. My scalp had a post-nuclear glow. It matched the bright green shirts construction workers wear. (That was the plan actually; it was part of the clown look.) However, I underestimated the effect it would have on others.

The first night, with clown makeup on, I made one kid cry, scared another, and made six little old ladies nervous. (You could tell…) Understandable. I had green teeth and fake blood all over me. But the next morning? That’s when the fun began.

There was a gun buy-back in my neighborhood, and I made the news. The rednecks in my neighborhood took it well, mostly because I had my hair covered with a Jim Beam baseball cap. I made sure to get a ride to the site. In my neighborhood, if you see a green-haired clown walking down the street with a rifle over his shoulder, you shoot first and ask questions later.

The first bit of intolerance came on the bus, a few hours later on my way to Clairissa’s to get ‘shortened up’. A chubby gay skinhead got on the bus. (I know, oxymoronic, huh? Is that even allowed?) He gave me a dirty look and shook his head in disgust. He held his little yapping lap-dog and refused to look my way. I wondered how life must suck for a gay skinhead, and why he would combine two diametrically opposed lifestyles. A line from Shakes the Clown came to mind: “As soon as they turn the lights out, he’s gonna fuck that little dog…”

A young Mexican couple got on the bus. The woman smiled at me. The man? He grabbed her hand and led her to the back of the bus, shaking his head and frowning like I’d waved my penis at her. I was glad to get to Clairissa’s.

She cut me down, but the neon hue remained, so I decided to enjoy it. I got many funny comments via e-mail, (“Don’t forget to water your head!”) in person (“Is that years of pot-smoking manifesting itself?”) and especially at work. When you work with the public, they often use the most obvious thing to start a conversation. Mine was pretty obvious.

I was at a bus stop in Beaverton, and an older woman asked me if I’d sold my gun. “Oh, were you at the gun buy-back?”

“No,” she said. “I saw you on the news.”

I got tired of discussing it after a week or so. I wore a ballcap to work for a couple days, but it made my scalp itch, and no one wants to see a guy with green hair scratching his scalp repeatedly. I thought it’d turn into a two-toned holiday theme, red and green in time for Christmas, but it just looks funky now. I’m ready to be red again.

Growing up in a small town with red hair, I heard ’em all. Red, Flame-Brain, Fire-Crotch. (That one’s all yours now, LiLo!) Perhaps my favorite is one not used in polite company, but was used often by my dearly departed brother-in-law:

“Red on the head like the dick on a dog.” RIP, Guy. You know I still love you, and quote you daily. Just not that one…


I got called Carrot Top a lot. I know, that has a whole ‘nother connotation these days. Carrot Top the comic is a funny motherfucker, and took the sting out of being a redhead, but I could never understand why they called redheads carrot tops.

I grew up in the country. Carrot tops are green, dipshit.

Which disappoints me a little. Over the last two weeks, not one person has called me Carrot Top. Is it the shade of green? The ‘country’ is slowly disappearing from my lifestyle. I’d hoped at least one person would get it.

Last night I hit maximum capacity for stupid hair comments. I went hatless, and took the midnight bus home. The couple behind me had been drinking, and were loud. I put in my personal music system, turned on some Tool, but could still hear them. I heard about how he wanted to make out with her, and she declined because he was too drunk and wouldn’t be nice to her in the morning. I heard the comments about how tough he was. I especially heard, how just as they were ready to get off the bus, that he wanted to take a trowel and plant a tree on top of my head.

I watched as they departed the bus. My green hair and glowing red eyes made contact with hers. Yes, I’m eyefucking your boyfriend, bitch. He looked my way, and my eyes hardened. His head snapped the other way. Yeah, you’re a tough little pinhead, all right. They’re always toughest when half a block away…

So, early tomorrow I traipse over to Clairissa’s and lose my glowing green brain-lawn. I was going to do it today, but she was out of town. I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep a whole bunch and avoid the outside world. I’ll wear my black leather ballcap with the Alfred E. Neumann pin. “What, me worry?”

I’ve perfected my Kermit thee Frog impression. “Hulk ANGRY!” may be my new work phrase. I’ll spend the next two weeks answering questions about where my hair went. (Probably better start coming up with some snappy retorts for that.) My only worry? Seems every time I get my hair cut all the way off there’s a Skinhead rally in town. (Anniversary of the murder of Mulugeta Seraw.)

I am not a skinhead, but I know where a certain one with a cute little dog lives…

1 Comment

  1. gee-no said,

    I have been kicking around the idea of shaving my scalp also, mostly because I tire of grooming it every day. The ‘skinhead’ stereotype is what has stopped me thus far from doing so. Although it does grow back fairly quickly.

    I guess I could always carry a few lollipops like Kojak did and utter the phrase “who loves ya baby?” whenever someone gives me that “Is he a skinhead?” look.

    Have fun at the barbers!

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