I became a bleach blonde quite by accident. My daughter was a student in cosmetology school (which, I found out, is the study of hair styling, not asteroids) when she asked me to be her model. That meant that I would go to her school and perch on a spinning chair in front of a big mirror while she experimented at burnishing my hair with golden highlights. I loved the idea of being a model, like the Calvin Klein hunks who pose in the glossy pages of GQ magazine. She promised that I would look hotter than Brad Pitt.
My aspiring stylist stretched a perforated plastic skullcap over my noggin and wielded tweezers to yank thin strands of hair through the holes. I panicked when I saw the faded brown stalks that stuck out from my pate like a dying corn field.
“What happened to Brad Pitt?” I screamed. “I look like Gollum!”
She tried to calm me down by pointing out that Gollum is, after all, a movie star. Unconvinced, I was still hyperventilating when she painted globs of bleach onto each stalk, set the timer and busied herself with other important tasks, such as comparing tattoos with her fellow students.
Apparently, she didn’t hear the timer. I’m not sure what I noticed first, the smoke erupting from my head or my daughter shouting “Oops!” Someone rushed over with a fire extinguisher and splattered a stream of foam onto my head, which now looked like a sizzling marshmallow.
My daughter climbed into a hazmat suit with thick rubber gloves and slowly peeled the skullcap off my scorched dome. After she squeezed the foam out of my ears and combed out the smoldering remains of my hair, she attempted to salvage my day by saying that my platinum rubble, what was left of it, made me look like a beach boy.
I threw a towel over my head and sped home, hunched over the steering wheel to avoid recognition, as if that would be a problem. As soon as I walked in the door to face my wife, I took control of the narrative and let her know that everything had gone as planned.
“I decided to go all out for the Southern California beach boy look,” I mumbled, flinging the towel aside with more bravado than I felt.
She stared at my shimmering scalp for a long time, squinting against the radiance. “Too bad you don’t have a beach boy waistline,” she sniped.
I broke down. “I don’t know what to do!” I wailed.
She always had a practical answer for everything. “How about you strap the cat across your head.”
Our cat Duchess, who had learned English as a second language, heard that and hurtled into overdrive across the slippery hardwood floor. She tried to take a corner at full speed, went into an uncontrolled fishtail, slammed into a wall and went down in a dazed pile of fur.
I never did wear Duchess for a hair piece, but I found a way to gracefully pull the plug on my career as a cosmetology model.
The next day, our daughter came home from school, beaming proudly, and announced that she had passed her highlights make-up test. I didn’t recognize Duchess as she staggered into the house, looking like a skunk with a broad, smoking, platinum streak down her back.
All turned out well. Duchess and I made the cover of Kitty Litter Magazine as the National Champion Cat-and-Owner Look-alike Couple of the Year.
It was a long way from GQ, but it was a big step toward stardom. Look out Brad Pitt!
Larry Alan Brown is a resident of Alpine, Utah. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org