Natural crowning glory

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

ONE of the personal problems that concern most people today is the physical signs of aging. Apart from the inevitable facial wrinkles and age spots which can be readily addressed by many expensive commercial products and services, it is the crowning glory - the hair - that is most visible and can be more affordably addressed.


Women of all ages are known to dye their hair. The young ones have even gone as far as bravely coloring their hair yellow, not blonde, in line with their favorite anime characters. Middle-aged women though generally dye their hair in various shades of brown, not black. But as the brown dye fades, it sort of turns into hues of orange. Or, maybe they intentionally dye their hair orange, I'm not sure. Two problems occur however: first, the brown and/or orange does not blend with the scalp if the hair is thinning; and second, hair dying requires regular maintenance, particularly when the hair is growing and its roots are white and the rest of the hair is of various colors of soil.



In the same manner, elderly men are equally known to dye their hair a totally shocking night black (not unlike shoe polish). This becomes more visible when combined with thinning hair as the contrast with the scalp is rather stark. Other men futilely attempt to hide their baldness by sweeping their remaining hair strands all the way to one side so that the partition has neared one ear. While hair gel might help keep these few strands of hair in place, men who sport such hair style are wary of outdoor sports activities.


On the contrary, for the longest time, I have allowed my short hair to turn white - not so much because I had planned to. In fact, more than a decade ago, I too had attempted to have my hair dyed, only to find out that dying my hair caused itchiness of the scalp and falling hair.

The whites on my hair today have limited themselves only in front, framing my face, so that it looks like I had my hair intentionally streaked with white. To maintain its clean whiteness, I use a shampoo that protects it from sun exposure which can render it light brown or cream colored.

Unlike many professional women my age, white hair has become my advantage.


About a week ago, at the airport in Manila, I had been standing in an absolutely long line at the regular check-in counter for quite a while when I spotted a queue for senior citizens where only one lady was being served. Dragging my stroller luggage and a small box of goodies I had amassed in Manila, I lined up at the senior citizen queue. When it was my turn to be served, I asked the young man at the counter if it was alright for me to claim senior citizenship, even if my 60th birthday was four months away. The young man looked up at me, glanced at my white hair and smiled. Immediately, he tagged my bags as priority - and gave me a choice seat in the aircraft.


Just yesterday, I had gone to the bank for a few transactions. I was already running late for another appointment and the queue was long. There were only two teller windows opened. One was serving number 27 - and I was number 58. The other teller was reserved for senior citizens, pregnant women and persons with disability. Oh dear.

I did not qualify for this second teller's service since: (1) I have yet four more months to be a senior citizen; (2) I am truly way past ever becoming pregnant, and to pretend to be so would have been a joke; and finally (3) only my family and friends would agree that I am in many ways truly disabled, though it did cross my mind to feign a limp walk (which I had once gotten away with in my youth) but decided against it since I was wearing heels.

After waiting a while, I decided to brave the bank manager's desk to inquire if I could avail of the senior citizen's queue even if I was four moths shy of the privilege. The bank manager looked up at me, glanced at my white hair and smiled. Immediately, she took my transaction documents and brought it to the teller, waited for its completion, returned to me and handed me the competed documents.


Now that I am beginning to experience the advantages of my white hair vis-a-vis senior citizenship, I must focus on becoming more mature to match my white hair.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 17, 2014.


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