LC's Take: Plane Heads

Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in Features

LC's Take: Plane Heads

by LC Van Savage

I’d already finished my nap, had eaten the soggy paper bag full of soggy airplane food, read a couple of pages of that slick airplane magazine, stretched, and began to look idly around at the other passengers. We were all flying to San Antonio, Texas.

With nothing better to do, I became very interested in all those heads stretching out before me like rows of hairy bowling balls. No necks or shoulders. Just heads.

And what a variety there was. Have you ever noticed heads in airplanes? Fascinating. Absorbing. On this particular flight there were a lot of fresh, shiny, clean, razor-pressed and very, oh very young military guys on their way to Fort Sam Houston in Sanantone. Their heads, shaved to the skull, sticking up from the rows of seats ahead of me like kiwi fruits, were really quite intriguing. It was obvious many of those kids had had a scuffle or two in their lives over which their heads had paid a price. There were a multitude of scars all over their young skulls, some tiny, some long, some round, some not, all somewhat white-ish. One guy had a row of scars that looked exactly like the Aleutian Islands running roughly from the crown of his head down to and behind his left ear. Another kid had obviously been blasted with buckshot, but only a little. Another had a couple of scars shaped like Maine and Idaho, another had a scar shaped like a headless ostrich, another like Jay Leno’s profile, and another had a group of scars that made a rather credible smiley face. It all got kind of funny in my idle boredom up there in the clouds, and I smiled as I began to see lots of faces and small mammal shapes (and a couple of reptiles) in the scar designs on the backs and tops of the heads of those kids sworn to protect our flag.

Tiring of that, I began to wonder how many people on that plane colored their hair, and was surprised to discover that it appeared lots did, or seemed to, and some of them, of course, were males. I’m not talking about the token green and vivid blue, yellow and pink clumpings on the tops of the heads of the younger passengers bent on “expressing” themselves. I was more interested in the large group of adults who had added color to their locks, for reasons known best to them; ego, change of personality, search for eternal youth, hide the grey, ego, get hired, witness-protection program, or ego. 

And why not? What nature can’t do, one’s hairdresser certainly can, after, of course, you've crossed his/her latex-clad palm with lots of lucre. And one can even change one’s hair color oneself after the tedium of selecting the perfect color in a store from hundreds of boxes of color choices. (As for me, I’ve always hankered toward the Farrah Fawcett mane. I think it’d look very smart on me. Don’t you?)

There were so many colors of hair on that plane, but I’ll say that a reddish cast was the most popular, with outright blonde a close second. Shoe-polish black on some, shoe-polish brown on others. Everyone’s dyeing their hair these days, all the sexes, and most people are very open about it, but when I was growing up back in the Jurassic, to hit the dye pots and to color one’s hair was a scandalous action. It simply wasn’t done. (Had I a dollar for every time I heard that phrase growing up, today I’d be driving around in a solid gold car right down to the hubcaps.) For women, dyeing their hair meant they were ... well, definitely ladies who committed certain sins. When men dyed their hair, they were just considered “damn fools.” The proper people who gossiped about who was doing it often called it “assisting” one’s hair color because for some weird reason, to say “dyeing” was impolite. Many “assisted” their hair with colors far past the years when those colors, had they been natural in the first place, would normally have faded into dim memory. When improper people (aka normal people) spoke of this, they simply said “Oh yeah, looks like old Ellie is hittin’ the paint pots again.”

I so well remember little old ladies in (and out of) my family, many barely able to stand, most unable to blow out even one of the dozens of candles on their birthday cakes, but still having vermilion hair. Or glowing auburn. Or school-bus yellow. Or charcoal black. Or mud brown, all colors garishly contrasting with their ancient, pale and wrinkled faces.  But you know, it made those ladies very happy and made them feel young, so then what if they looked pathetic and weird to the rest of their purist peers who “wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing”? (Which of course they very likely eventually will.) When those old gals back then, or even now, look into their mirrors through dimming eyes and see someone youthful and beautiful looking back, I say “You GO girl!”

Women back when I was a girl would often go on a long vacation and  would frequently return with a brand new hair color, and if anyone asked if they’d assisted their hair while away, they always said “Oh heavens no. I would never dream of doing such a thing. I guess I only look different because I got a really good rest on my trip.” Or, “The sun out there is just so much stronger than it is here so I guess my hair just changed color naturally. The sun did it. Yes. That’s correct. The sun.”  Right-e-o.

It was interesting and fun, sizing up all those crania on my way to San Antonio, Texas. One thing though that I didn’t see: Back in the day, someone told ladies who had less than dazzling white hair that if they wanted it to be really really white, they should let the salon person add in some blue dye. Blue! Just a drop or two. Well, no one ever seemed to get the formula right so many elderly ladies often got stuck with a robin’s-egg-blue hair color and apparently it took a long time for it to wash out. I’m glad to report that I never see “the blue hairs” anymore. Now today, that would have looked cool, considering that women of all ages dye their hair in colors Mother Nature had never thought of. Some folks are even dyeing their hair in several different colors at once, and personally I love it! Variety is the spice and all, and I think people, especially young, bouncy, dewy-eyed girls, look wonderful in these dazzling rainbow ‘do’s.    

Next time you fly somewhere and you’re bored, let the heads all around you tell you their stories. They’ll tell you a lot, but the best part is they’ll never know they’re doing it!   

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