Every year or so, a short-lived flurry of “human interest” articles pop up, collectively gawking at the genetic freakiness of redheads: We have a high pain tolerance, (yet at the same time somehow require extra anesthesia.) We’re the rarest genetic combination on the planet! We produce our own vitamin D! We’re the human equivalent of unicorns! I always just skim them and shrug. I’m too apathetic about my own genetic makeup to actually vet the science, and most of them seem at best silly to me, and at worst, bordering on fetishism. But hey, we redheads are only in vogue for brief periods of time, and if we get a little positive attention, I’m not going to argue with that. The only thing I find a little irksome about these articles is that they remind me of the supreme irony that my sole mission in life has been to remain invisible, and yet I was genetically fated to become a five-foot-nine redhead.
I might be a little more interested if these articles posited something actually useful about the genetic makeup of redheads, like that we are all secret math geniuses or naturally superior at parallel parking, but they mostly focus on our supposed pain tolerance and our mere rarity, which, in and of itself, isn’t very utilitarian. Now, I will say that there may be something to the afore-mentioned “extra anesthesia” thing. I haven’t been to the dentist in I don’t want to tell you how long, because the last few times was an utter fiasco. I think they depleted their entire stock of heavy-duty anesthesia and they used gas, and I was never fully numb. Nonetheless, requiring extra anesthesia really doesn’t add up to a net good in the world, except maybe to line the pockets of Big Ana.
Here are some things I have noticed about having red hair:
· It doesn’t dye or bleach without a heroic fight. I used to work at a salon and we took test samples of my hair. After three straight days of being doused in bleach, my sample merely turned a brassy yellow.
· Fun Fact according to Wikipedia: “The non-tanning skin associated with red hair may have been advantageous in far-northern climates where sunlight is scarce.” I wish I had known the genetic reality of melatonin as a nine-year-old who was obsessed with getting a tan so I could look like the teenage models in “Seventeen.”
· According to “research”, the red-haired genetic line is going extinct—but then again, this may be a hoax perpetuated by Proctor & Gamble so they can sell more hair dye.
· I always used to be able to tell the guys who watched a lot of red-head porn. They all gave me the same, very specific knowing leer when I got on the bus. Thank god I haven’t seen that in a while, and to be fair, it was rare. Creepy, but rare.
· Every now and then, a certain type of elegant lady with fine, silvery hair looks at me fondly and says, “My hair used to that be color.” This is a unique bonding experience that no one but a redhead can know. I always tell them, “Well, I’m glad to know I have your beautiful silver to look forward to!”
· My eyelashes are thick and long, but again—supreme irony-so white as to be invisible. So for a long time I was coating them in black mascara, but I felt weird about it. Then I switched to mascara made by a cosmetic company called “Just for Redheads,” which was a revelation. They sold ginger-colored mascara! And blush made for light skin tones! And red-head friendly lipsticks! It was glorious while it lasted. Then the quality of their products took a nosedive, and I went back to regular cosmetics. Except by then, Maybeline had finally started making mascara in “Dark Brown,” which works better on me than a harsh black.
· Finally, I am extremely foul-tempered, I don’t have a soul but I can steal yours through eye contact, and I’ll float if you try to drown me.