Before you read any further, let me tell you a little bit about me. I might think liberally, have a loud mouth, be very opinionated and some would say stubborn, but when it comes to my appearance, I am very, very conservative. I have highlights in my hair, but only subtle ones to cover up the grey that is starting to appear. My clothing? At work, khakis and nice shirts, at home, jeans. Nothing flashy, I am about as far from trendy as you can get, and it works for me. I do not go out of my way to stand out from the crowd in any way.
So when I was a sophomore in high school, I let my older sister convince me to allow her to put some subtle highlights in my hair. Just to brighten it up a little, she said. Since she was by then in college and had always been something like a hero to me (she had a flat top haircut long before it was considered socially acceptable to have crazy hair), and hey, she was COOL, so it really wasn't difficult to be convinced. We excitedly went out and bought the highlighting kit, complete with the little cap and miniature crochet hook that is supposed to be used to pull small sections of hair to be highlighted. Off to the bathroom where we listened to Howard Jones and the Hooters (anyone else remember them?) and really got into it.
But the little miniature crochet hook was a piece of junk, and my sister started to get frustrated at the length of time it was taking; she was also getting rather annoyed at my yelps of pain as she oh-so-gently-pulled hairs out by the roots. So she thought to just take the cap off and try to separate the strands herself. Within a few minutes, she said, "This just isn't working; let's just do the whole thing, you will look SO great as a blond!" and proceeded to slather this highlighting stuff all over my head. 30 minutes later, it was time to wash it out...
...and the very minute she had the stuff all rinsed out, she started giggling. And laughing. And literally laying on the floor with tears running out of her eyes, bellowing with laughter. This did not bode well. I looked in the mirror and my hair was not blond at all, it was an odd hue of orange, much like the sun looks when there is a fire somewhere close by. I was devastated and amused at the same time, and I remember she and I trooping downstairs to show the parents, muffling giggles and wiping away tears at the same time. They were not as amused, I assure you.
And then I had to go to school, which was a daunting prospect given my unwillingness to be noticed in any way, shape or form. However, my sister gave me advice I still use to this day, though: As long as you portray the right attitude, no one will give you shit. So we shaved (yes, OK, this WAS the 80's) one side of my hair, went to the thrift store and picked up an old Army jacket and combat boots, and I went to school acting like I had meant to do it. I was already friends with the punk kids, because we were all incredibly smart but didn't fit in anywhere else but the Honor's Classes, so THEY thought I was just finally crossing all the way over. And I found out that hair does grow back or fade away, and as long as you come across as having done something rather shocking on purpose, people think you are brave. It's all in the attitude.
I pulled it off, even though I still cringe to this day when I remember how ridiculous I looked. And I never let my sister touch my hair again-seemed much safer all the way around.