Everyone just assumes that I’m Irish because of my red hair and fair complexion. The fact of the matter is that I’m a mutt – an amalgam of any number of Nationalities (I’m guessing there’s a few that I am NOT a part of) – but, sure. I’ll be Irish. Aye. Especially today.
I am a red head. A ginger. A bluey. A carrot top (even though those are green). A firecracker. A copper top battery. A siren. A witch. I’ve been called it all. Having red hair was the bane of my existence as an adolescent but now I fully embrace being a red head. Plus, despite my having a ton of gray hair you cannot see any of it because it blends in. I have natural highlights that I don’t have to pay for! Jealous? You should be. My hair is stunning. Every hairdresser says so.
Before you start to think that my daily existence revolves around shaking my glorious crown of red hair in front of a mirror, let me tell you that it hasn’t always been a pleasure being a red head. There’s the fact that my 16th chromosome is mutated, which not only gives me my red hair but also makes UV rays a natural enemy. The sun just adds more freckles to my collection and unless I’m out all day, every day in the summer, I do not tan very well. Even the sun has to put on sunglasses to deal with my glare.
While being pale today does not hold the same stigma it used to, I grew up in an era where it was popular to lay out all day coated in baby oil. The only thing to do during the summer was to go to the pool and be in the sun all day. That was so not happening for this little red head. While my girlfriends frolicked I hid in the shade under whatever was available while waiting for my Sundown “water-proof” sunscreen to dry. Honestly. You had to wait an hour for Sundown to dry but had to reapply it every 30 minutes for it to be effective. There was just no winning.
I remember one time during my youth, my aunt took my cousin and I to the swimming pool in Pataskala, Ohio. My usual hangout was the pool in Baltimore but most of the kids from my school went to the pool in Pataskala, so I was really excited to go. My cousin and I skipped through the front gates giddy with anticipation. We stripped down to our swimsuits but I left my t-shirt on – as I normally did – to protect myself from the sun’s evil rays. Before I could jump in the pool, a mean old man ran out to the poolside and yelled at me for having a t-shirt on. He said I could not swim in the pool wearing a t-shirt. He insisted that I take it off if I wanted to enjoy their amenities. Well, my aunt showed him… we left. She didn’t argue. She didn’t try to reason. We packed up our stuff and split. I was devastated. They should have just had a sign posted: No Gingers Allowed. I wonder if I had stayed and gotten a sunburn, would I be able to sue for reparations?
Thankfully, today’s redheads are equipped with SPF 10,000 and UV protection tops to wear in the pool. They got it made (in the shade). And I’ve gone on to give the world yet another Ginger. My Ben is a redhead. No matter how many times cancer comes and knocks out that kid’s hair, it ALWAYS comes back in RED. He’s determined, no doubt. He’s a firecracker.
And, FYI, Red heads will NOT be extinct in 100 years as the National Geographic “article” so wrongly reported. There are actually more redheads now than there have ever been.
Sorry, Ginger haters. We’re here to stay. 😛