Gray, Yeah, But Old?


On the San Francisco Muni bus, younger women get up to give me their seats; they give me their benevolent smiles.

It’s the hair.

I ask for a monthly Muni pass at Safeway, and the check-out guy, says, “Sure, would that be a Senior Pass?” My husband cannot stop laughing.

It’s the gray hair.

A very disheveled black man, reeking of the chemical sweetness of crystal meth, sits beside me on the bus, leans his head on my shoulder and tells me he likes old women. Not older. Old.

It’s the materfrickin’ gray-tweed hair!

Maybe I should just quit riding the bus altogether is what I’m thinking. I mean, does this happen to pretty-boy Anderson Cooper on CNN? Oh, I don’t think so.

Of course, I’ve agonized about dyeing my hair to its original black gloss. My two older sisters, for example, have not a whit of white hair – except perhaps if you go nitpicking. One of them was carded in a department store when she asked for the discount for the 55 and older crowd.

It has also passed through my mind a time or three that my friends and co-workers might just wish I’d go ahead and reach for the dye dispenser. The way you want the guy with the very crooked bottom teeth to go get them fixed, the way you want that pretty plump girl in Accounting to lose some weight, Aaron Neville to get his huge Milk Dud of a mole taken care of.

It’s also a worry that potential publishers will reject me out of hair, hand because I’m not the rockin’ young author, you know? Last week at my friend Abeer’s reading, the moderator plugged and plugged a writing contest eligible for writers 35 and younger. Well. That leaves me the hell out. It’s bad enough that an agent confided to me that my first book couldn’t get through “marketing,” and that an editor at a major publishing house told me nobody wants to read about Jamaica – they want to read about Europe. I’m already at a disadvantage.

You will never know how I agonized about the photo on the About Jennifer page which, in the end, I left un-Photoshopped. Only because when we did it, it looked a touch artificial, the hair. Very same reason I don’t color it. This is the same hair I always seem to be writing about, the same hair that black women gush over at the hair salon. They tell me it looks good with my skin color, which is coffee without a single trace of cream. They tell me how beautiful it is. They lie, I think.

All it does is suggest to folks that they get up from their seats and let me sit down; they hang back to let me board the bus first; they call me old to my face.

If I’m old, how is it that I have this on my mp3 player? As well as this. All right, so I also have this,and this can make me weepy. Maybe I am old?

1. Kanye West/Jamie Foxx-Golddigger; 2. Damian Marley-Welcome To Jamrock; 3. Ron Isley-Burt Bacharach-Anyone Who Had a Heart; 4. George Frideric Handel- Xerxes-Largo

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One thought on “Gray, Yeah, But Old?

  1. I am listening to the last piece of music and weeping while staring at my skunk stripe to the right of my widows peak.

    DON’T DYE JENNIFER, DON’T DYE. (sob)

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