I video-called my grandmother, a Colorado resident, to see how she is holding up during this pandemic.
“Soon you’re going to see my true hair color for the first time,” she told me, running her fingers through her blond tresses.
She’s right. I’ve never seen Linda Kornfeld without her nails painted and her hair colored. Usually she wears a wine or rose lipstick that almost matches the sheen on her fingertips.
My grandmother is 80 and has lived in Denver, Colorado, for almost her entire life. I’ve been back in Denver for a few weeks now, living in my childhood home about a 20-minute drive from Linda. This is the closest I’ve lived to her in years, but I’m not able to come over and help her dye her hair.
“There’s a saying that whether or not someone dyes their hair: ‘Only their hairdresser knows for sure,’” she said. “Now everyone will see how gray I am!”
I reminded her that most people aren’t seeing much of anybody these days.
The coronavirus pandemic has shut down salons across the country, leaving hairdressers and stylists having to risk their safety through house calls to do their jobs. For one-time customers who’d rather do it themselves now, articles on “how to color your own hair” are circulating.
Linda has always had blond hair. For the past 50 years, it’s been maintained through highlighting and coloring. She’s had the same hairdresser, Carol, for 30 of those years.
“We live in a society dominated by youthfulness. And there isn’t anything youthful about going gray,” she said, laughing, when I asked her why she and her friends insist on coloring their hair.
Now that COVID-19 has her holed up in her apartment, there are no trips to see Carol and no touch-ups for her roots.
I asked Linda if she has any friends who rock gray hair. She thought for a minute before answering, “Yeah, two.” (Before all this, my grandmother had an outing scheduled almost every day with a friend and seems to know almost everyone in the city.)
While she isn’t happy about it, Linda is open to letting her natural hair color grow in.
“Even I don’t know how gray I am,” she said. “So I’m kind of intrigued!”