I was dreaming. I recognized that voice by the laughter each syllable contained. “Uncle Phil?”
“Really, Blondie, who else?”
I shook my head and wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. “This isn’t possible!”
He cocked his head, his glasses tilting just a little off his nose as his hair caressed his jaw, tickling the chubby flesh. “Now, tell me, Blondie, didn’t I teach you that nothing is impossible?”
I sat up, threw back the covers and swung my feet over the side of the bed until they touched the cold wood floor. “I’m dreaming!”
“Hey, what do you call it when you have fifteen blondes standing ear to ear?”
Groaning, I tried to suppress a laugh, “You come back from the dead to tell me this?”
“Just answer,” he responded, leaning against the window. He kicked one foot up behind him so it rested flat against the wall.
“A wind tunnel,” I whispered.
He laughed. Tears sprung to my eyes. I shook my head and stared at him. He was as I remembered him on his best days – full of life and fun. His eyes danced with humor. Clarity. Intelligence.
“What did you do to your hair,” he asked promptly. He was suddenly beside me, his hand hovering over my head.
“Dyed it.” Tired of being a blonde, I wanted to say, but I knew it wouldn’t be right to say that to him. Anyone but him. He loved my blonde hair. It had been his personal joke for nearly 25 years. I’d never gotten out of a visit or a phone call without …
“Hey Blondie, why’d the blonde get fired from the candy store?”
I grinned, “Because she spent all her time trying to alphabetize the M&Ms.”
He nodded, his eyes grew dark. “How long has your hair been like that?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I wrapped one lock around my finger and twirled it, “it’s been a little while.”
“You have more fun that way?”
“More fun?” I stared at him, trying to figure out what the issue was. The old ‘Blondes have more fun’ saying was just that, a saying. I’d never been one to believe in that kind of crap; if there wasn’t a logical reason or explanation, well, it just didn’t fly with me.
He paced the floor in front of me, “I’m supposed to tell you something.”
“So tell me,” I started, then when I looked up at him I realized that he was struggling. I could see the tears building in his eyes as he stared at my auburn hair. “Does it upset you that much?”
I almost didn’t notice the slight bob of his head.
Stopping in front of the window, he looked out. “You’re not who you’re supposed to be.”
“My hair doesn’t determine who I am,” I retorted.
With his back still turned, he muttered, “Doesn’t it?”
“I don’t get it. You’re losing me.”
“What’s the best way to kill a blonde,” he asked, turning from the window. His grin was contagious and I returned one of my own.
I tried to remember the answer, “Put a scratch and sniff sticker at the bottom of the pool.”
He said nothing. I waited. And then it hit me, this was what we did. This was his way of telling me he loved me. Only now, it wasn’t as much fun; I wasn’t blonde. I didn’t have to defend myself. Sad laughter escaped my lips.
He sat on the side of the bed and put his arm around me. “Why do you want to change who you are?”
“It isn’t about changing who I am,” I told him, “It’s about …” I couldn’t finish. What was I changing?
“I like it better blonde,” he grumbled.
And then I really thought about it. I’d gotten tired of the jokes. Gotten bored with fitting in with the not-so-natural blondes. Everyone wanted to be blonde. It wasn’t a specialty any longer. Everyone could have blonde hair at the snap of a finger, or, well, at least twenty-five minutes and twenty bucks. My natural dish-water blonde hair was nothing compared to the pretty little colors and highlights a hairdresser could give.
I thought it meant I was maturing. I was getting rid of the youthful stigmatism that comes with being a blonde. I wanted to be thought of as more grown up. Harder. More adult-like. Less stupid.
“You forgot how to be young,” he nudged.
And I had. With the loss of the blonde hair had come a sternness I hadn’t expected. Everything in life became serious. I forgot to laugh at stupid jokes, and forgot to tease and play.
I turned to him, tears flowing freely, “What happened?”
He smiled, his eyes sad, “Blondes have more fun, Baby-girl.”
Hugging me, he said “Because it’s expected! Because you are what you envision. Everyone thinks blondes have more fun. It’s why so many of those young girls want blonde hair so bad they spend every penny they make at the salon. It’s why you went brunette. To escape the stigma so you could be seen as more mature…” he scoffed, “Honey, you were meant to be blonde! It’s what kept you real! Gave you laughter!”
I sobbed. “I just want to be your Blondie again!” Who would have ever thought the color of your hair would change you so much?
“What do you get when you put a group of blondes in the freezer?”
“Frosted Flakes,” I answered between sobs.
“What do UFOs and smart blondes have in common?”
This time I giggled through my tears. “You hear all about them, but never see them!”
“What do you call a smart blonde,” he asked, without missing a beat.
“Your niece,” I replied before breaking into uncontrollable laughter.
He chuckled. “Good one!” He ran his hand through my long, dark tresses, “See, it’s all about the blondes.”
Closing my eyes, I struggled for breath, “I miss you so much, Uncle. You always made me laugh.”
“Don’t forget, Blondie,” he whispered as he kissed my forehead, “Blondes have more fun, but it’s just the attitude that goes with the hair. Don’t forget me, and you’ll never forget you.” Then he was gone.
I stared at my lone reflection in the window. Tomorrow, I’d still be brunette. But maybe, just maybe, someday, I’d relearn. Someday, I’d be me again.