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Orange You Glad That's Over
It was an accident. No one goes out wanting fluorescent orange hair. We paid my tutor at the time a hefty sum of money to give me a pretty strawberry blonde hue a la Kate Hudson, but after two hours of sitting with a stinging scalp, we were horrified to find that I looked like a highlighter. And not one of the pretty colors either. Needless to say, we never called that tutor again after that night.
I was mortified. I refused to look at myself in the mirror. No sophomore should look like this, I thought. I cried and cried and begged my parents to let me stay home from school the next day. They refused, of course, and I walked into class the next morning expecting muffled laughs from all around the room. Much to my surprise, I got compliments and other people didn’t even notice. Thank God. I had a giant sigh of relief. However, I couldn’t get myself over the fact that I thought my hair glowed in the dark.
Over the next few weeks, my orange locks lost the obnoxious shine of freshly dyed hair, and began to look a little better, not natural, but better. My roots started growing in a bit and I decided that instead of living in fear of the hair on top of my head, I’d embrace it and rock the look as best as I could. I had to wait a certain period of time before I could go back to fix it, so I knew that instead of shying away from the atrocity on top of my head, I should stand tall and let my small amount of confidence take over. I tried to dress to compliment the ugly shade of orange and talked out more often to distract people from the mess on top of my head. I slowly became more comfortable with my clothing choices and gained more and more friends with everyday that passed.
Much to my surprise, Joe, the boy I lusted after, finally started talking to me. He was a senior, tall, green-eyed and had a bad habit of partying a little to hard. He worked at the local Starbucks and I had been secretly in love with him since the first day of school. His long, brown hair would fall into his eyes and he’d blow it out of the way. He wore converses and blazers and smoked WAY too much weed.
In the beginning of the school year, he would talk to me only when he had to. He didn’t bother getting to know me. I was quiet, shy, intimidated by this older boy who I was hopelessly crazy about. With my newfound confidence, I started talking to him more. He started IMing me late at night. Eventually, he gave me his numer one night when I went in for my coffee fix. I was over the moon. He complimented me, flirted with me, wrapped his arm around me in class followed by a cheesy pick-up line. I was on top of the world. He didn’t care what my hair color was; he just noticed that I was becoming more of myself, and allowing my true personality to shine through.
There was a party, my first in High School. I was excited, I wore a pink shirt under my favorite sweater. My friend had invited me, since the last person she took to a party pretended to be drunk and annoyed anyone there. She was instructed to bring someone bearable, so she took me. A compliment, I suppose? I had never been drunk and had never been around anything “bad”. I lied to my parents and told them I was spending the night at her house. What they didn’t know wouldn’t kill them.
I held my own at the party, with my friend gallivanting off with the boy she claimed to have a crush on. A college kid, a guy named Andy, came up to me and after talking to me for a little while, brought up my hair.
“I really like your hair…”, he said. I thought he was referring to my curls.
“Thanks”, I said with a smile. I had almost forgotten what color it was.
“Not many girls have the guts to pull off a color like that.” My stomach dropped. Oh, crap. “It’s really cool!” He asked me to take it out of my ponytail so he could look at it. “Bomb hair, girl.”
I was ecstatic. So the orange disaster on my head wasn’t as bad as I thought after all! Andy sat with me for a while, obviously into the conversation. He lost all my attention as soon as I saw Joe had walked into the room. There he was, surrounded by his friends, and he was watching me. I smiled at him and he smiled back, walking away from his croonies and setting himself in between myself and Andy.
I felt my pulse race as he leaned in, his lips practically touching my ear, as he whispered, “Come do a shot with me…” I declined of course, I wasn’t one for hard alcohol and I had an acting class the next day. No way was I going to risk going to that hung over, especially for the amount we were paying.
I shook my head and told him I’d go with him. His head lingered next to my ear. I could feel Andy on the other side of him, watching us closely. Joe got up, grabbed my hand and led me to the table, which was covered in every alcoholic beverage known to man. I was tempted to try vodka for the first time, but stood strong and said no when he kept on asking.
Slowly but surely, the boy of my dreams was drunk. He went upstairs to the music room and I hung out downstairs, afraid to venture up to see him. I hung out with a friend from class, Michael, we taught me how to use a lighter. He made me sit on his lap while he demonstrated. He kept holding my hands, but I didn’t pay attention to the moves he was trying to make. I didn’t care what he was trying. The Christmas tree was next to us and we almost set it on fire. We stopped playing with the lighter, and instead just sat there talking, his arms wrapped around my waist. Suddenly, music broke through the entire house. It was coming from upstairs and I knew who was making it. Michael motioned for me to go check it out. I did.
I walked up the stairs, slowly, nervously. I went into the room, decked out in every instrument known to man. Joe was standing there, shirtless, with a guitar strapped to his naked torso, trying his best to play like Hendrix. I stood there, leaning against the doorframe, watching his muscular body pulse with the chords that he was urging out of the guitar. I was hooked. Some others were in the room, playing with instruments, but I only had eyes for Joe. He motioned for me to approach him. I moved towards him slowly, scared to get too close.
He stopped playing and pulled me close to him with his hand, cementing our proximity by enclosing me between his body and the guitar. He taught me a chord, speaking slowly, drunkenly, into my ear. His hands were on top of mine, moving them to where they had to be, and he helped me create music that was amplified throughout the room. The others who had been playing instruments realized Joe wanted his privacy, and they all left, winking to us as they walked out of the room.
We were all alone. Joe was drunk and half-naked. I was nervous, 15, and had never been kissed. I was freaking out. Joe moved closer, I could feel his breath on my face. He closed his eyes and leaned in even closer. I didn’t know what to do. I was stuck there. I was screaming inside. He leaned close enough for there to be a kiss if we wanted, but I pulled back.
“No.” I said. He looked surprised. “Not here, not now. You’re drunk. I want you to remember it.” That and I didn’t want to waste my first kiss on a boy who would be puking out his innards in a matter of time.
“Allie, I swear, I’ll remember.” He tried to convince me. I was hearing none of it. He kept trying to kiss me, but I kept avoiding his puckered lips. The next thing I knew, he couldn’t stand up straight. I pulled the guitar from around our bodies, trying to steady it on the stand while trying to support the boy who was leaning on me to keep himself from falling. I was having trouble keeping him up, he was too heavy, dead-weight. A guy walked past the room and I hollered at him to get his attention. He saw my distress and came in the room, grabbing Joe’s other arm, and together we pulled him into the bathroom.
Joe was delirious, he couldn’t form words. He kept passing out, making me very thankful I didn’t have a sip to drink. We turned the shower on, stripped Joe to his boxers and put him under the stream of water to try and revive him. He held my hand and I held his.
Others came into the bathroom and I decided I had done enough and left. I didn’t want to see him like that. I went back downstairs, catching Michael’s eye. I joined him at the piano, where we played a few songs, and then made our way into the kitchen where the two of us spent the rest of the night eating applesauce, talking. My friend came and found me soon after, informing me that it was time to go. I said good-bye to all the new people I had met, hugging those I had known before, and getting numbers from others. We went back to her house where we crashed as soon as we hit the bed.
My hair wasn’t orange for much longer. I made an appointment a few weeks later and my hair stylist and I turned me into a brunette. As much as I hated the coppery, orange color I had had, it dawned on me a few months later that it was what I needed. I needed a wake-up call, something to force me out of my shell. I blossomed and grew, turned into someone that I was proud to be. By being different, even if it was a mistake, the orange hair pulled out my confidence, allowing me to truly be myself for the first time in my life. I’ll never say it out loud, but I’m almost grateful that my tutor royally screwed up.