A heady experience to dye for

Teacher Talk

Posted: Friday, April 04, 2003

The timer is ticking. Another 20 minutes and the process should be complete, according to my strand test. Instead of getting sunburn in Mexico, I'm frying my hair with Born to be Blonde hair lightening formula and smelling the bitter, nostril-biting peroxide permeating the air of my apartment.

It's a tedious process taking almost three hours! My raven black hair resists change. This is my second attempt, mind you. The first time, I felt like a minor criminal stalking the hair dye aisle at Kmart looking for that formula that would strip the color off my hair and leave it a pale, almost translucent color. Having never dyed my hair, the idea of turning my hair pink was not only a foreign concept, it also seemed impossible.

One of my decathletes, Neil, tells me that I had to turn my hair blonde first before I could color it pink. I listen to him. After all, I've seen his hair change from brown to blonde to black to its current blue. My first attempt, I thought I had it made with Clairol's all natural ginger ash blonde color. Ginger sounded like an innocuous, even healthy color. My black hair merely turned dull. It ingested its first taste of hair poison. But I meant to keep my end of the bargain: 10 medals for Academic Decathlon state tournament and my hair turns whatever color my students chose.

The state-bound decathletes, with the exception of one junior, were seniors. This in itself was not a bad thing, except now that we were in Anchorage for the state competition; they were more interested in having fun instead of studying for upcoming tests. Yes, my kids take tests for fun. They also write essays and speeches and subject themselves to interviews for the sheer challenge of it. I'm always pleasantly surprised to see them impeccably dressed and professionally attired for their interviews and speeches. This year was no exceptions, but the fun, freedom, and senioritis coalesced during this trip. I had to try to make them crack open their study guides, even if it were a token attempt. Hence the dare: dye for medals, I proposed. They decided pink would look good. I think they've been watching too many Japanimations. I balked but figured surely they sell something that'll temporarily coat my black hair pink. No such luck.

Becoming a temporary blonde was not part of my job description when I decided to be a teacher. But I didn't count on extracurricular activities being part of my identity as a teacher either. So, my hair is currently in the orange stage. Actually, it looks like I'm several months too early for Halloween. Maybe my pumpkin-colored hair would be amusing enough they'd decide to forgo the next color stage.

I lost a dare for a good cause. We garnered 10 medals, and two $1,000 cash scholarships (for Gunnar Gissel and Stefan Ashe) and, for the first time in several years, JDHS Academic Decathlon team won a coveted trophy at the state competition, So, smirk at my goofy hair color but don't forget to ask me why I dyed my hair and I'll tell you about my winning team and our bonding experience a few weeks ago.

Karin C. Reyes is a teacher a Juneau-Douglas High School.



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