Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blond Trouble, Hair and Cars, but not in that order

I had car trouble yesterday.

I also dyed my hair blond.

The hair dye came first. I ran away to the beach this summer. Jobless, thigh-deep in novel writing, and determined to give myself skin cancer in the summer sun, running away seemed like a good idea. Funny thing, it's the blond hair that's my true summer fling. I run away all the time, sometimes as far away as other continents and hemispheres. No one who knows me finds this shocking. But blond??? Jesus-christo.

I ran away without much money and a car that cranked dubiously, at best. Seemed like perfect timing to me. So when my car battery finally died yesterday, I was not surprised. Getting stranded, usually with no money and sometimes in the midst of a revolution where I barely speak the language, is all part of the fun. So when my car finally refused to crank, I wasn't surprised. Merely disappointed there was no revolution to go along with it. Oh well. I'm having to settle for a natural disaster instead. Thanks, BP.

But the most shocking thing happened as soon as I popped my hood, standing in a SuperCenter parking lot, soaked to the bone. Did I mention it was raining? I was inundated with attempts at help. Notice I did not get *offers* of help. Oh no. No less than half a dozen guys, ranging in age from late teens to late middle age, strolled right up and buried themselves, wrist-deep, in the guts of my car without invitation or even a "Can I help you, ma'am?" They subtly fought each other for the chance to touch my battery posts, eyeing each other with thinly veiled suspicion and dislike. This did not happen when I had dark hair. With dark hair, it was always a request. A polite, respectful *offer* of which I often gratefully availed myself. But dark-haired, no one just grabbed for my mechanical innards like they did with my blond hair.

This phenomenon has been as unsettling as the car trouble, which is still not over. (Not a battery issue- either starter or fuel system. Fun, fun.) My IQ did not drop with the hair dye. But it did, somehow, morph me and my car from dark-haired active participant to light-haired bystander without choice.

Perhaps I sound ungrateful. This would be true, since my car is still sitting on the side of the road. But that is not why I am ungrateful. The car is my deal and I will fix it. And I am grateful for all those guys who stood in the rain and tried to crank my car, just as I am grateful for any and all guys who have ever helped me in the past, no matter what the hair color. I thanked each and every one of them profusely.

I learned that hair color makes a difference. How stupid. How nauseatingly ridiculous. How unexpected and depressing.

But what if it wasn't hair color?

What if it was skin color? Or gender? Or sexual orientation? How much help would I get, no matter how badly I needed it, if I was a young black male or older Hispanic woman?

If you don't know the answer, then get off my blog.

How depressing. After months of absence, it makes me long for the fortified walls of my armed artist's compound where I can write about ghosts, magic, and sex in relative peace and blissful ignorance. It makes me want to learn basic car repairs, not just for my own sake, but so that I, a female of questionable hair color, can competantly and cheerfully help beings of all races and genders in similarly distressed automotive circumstances.

It's coffee time for me again. Back to writing.