A few days ago I was faced with an ethical dilemma. A few days ago I sat down to write a letter of recommendation for my sister to enter a cosmetology school’s hair design program, and that still, small voice of my conscience asked this question: Is witholding information lying?
Typically, I am a patient person. Typically, I am under control. Until having three children in three years, typically, I never lost my temper. Well, almost never….
I had just graduated college and secured a job as a teacher at a local high school and was anxious to get started. The following day, the English department was hosting a cookout, and all of the new teachers were invited. I wanted to look responsible and professional since, at the ripe age of 22, I looked more like a student than the teachers. And even though we were only meeting for a cookout, this cookout would be the first time I had met most of the teachers who would be my colleagues, and I wanted to make a good first impression. Why I decided I needed to dye my hair for this occasion, I do not remember, and why I thought having my sister do it was a good idea, I will never know.
I should’ve pulled the plug on the operation when my sister whipped out a box that clearly said ‘black’ on it. I should’ve trusted my instincts, but for some strange reason, I put faith in the person who had a recent interest in cosmetology and not yet a license. I believed the claim that if we only let the dye sit on my head for five minutes, the color would look dark brown, not black. Even if I allowed the dye to sit on my head, I should’ve pulled the plug when I felt my sister massage my temples and my forehead and not my hair.
When the five minutes were up, I ran to my shower to rinse out the dye. As soon as the water hit my head, I noticed the black liquid running down my legs and down the drain, but I had faith. After all, if I couldn’t trust my sister, whom could I trust? I scrubbed and scrubbed shampoo throughout my hair until the water had begun to run clear, and then I got out of the shower.
As I wrapped the towel around my body, I noticed a problem–a big problem–in the mirror. I had a ring of black around my forehead, and my left cheek had at least a quarter-sized dye mark. On my cheek! I frantically grabbed the soap and started scrubbing my face but to no avail. She had dyed my freakin’ face! And while I was scrubbing my face, I couldn’t help but notice that my hair looked pretty darned dark.
I whipped out that hair dryer and prayed that the heat would reveal a different product. I prayed and prayed that as my hair dried it would turn into the dark brown that I wanted. Blue-black, everyone. That was the color of my hair. Have you ever seen a beautiful Asian woman with long, luscious locks flowing down her back, hair so dark that it looks like indigo ink? Yeah, that’s what color hair I had, except I’m not Asian, and my locks didn’t look quite so beautiful. I looked more like Wednesday Addams.
And now I know that out-of-body experiences are possible. I ran out of the bathroom in a state of absolute fury. Typically, I don’t yell. I yelled. Typically, I don’t curse. I cursed. Words left my mouth that I didn’t even know I knew. I couldn’t stop them; I wasn’t even thinking them, and they came out. They came out all over my sister and my grandmother and her friend who were visiting. The two older ladies decided to run to the staircase where the show was happening. The show where I cursed and I kicked and I punched. Not my proudest moment, but then again, I wasn’t in my body, so I couldn’t be held accountable.
After eight more hair washings and numerous applications of cold cream to my face, I went to meet the English department the next day with blue-black hair and a giant scab on my cheek from where I actually scrubbed off my skin.
I didn’t include any of this information in my sister’s letter of recommendation. I figure, she was probably just getting me back for all the times I tattled on her.
*This post published with my sister’s permission who, since this incident, has many times dyed my hair perfectly.
I’m linking this post for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. Click on over for other hair disasters and responses to her weekly writing prompts.