COVID makes gamblers of us all

Though everyone has their own unique set of circumstances and risk tolerance, we’re all pretty much rolling the dice on a regular basis when it comes to COVID. At this point, who hasn’t played the odds and risked infection for some degree of normalcy, fun, or simple necessity – from eating in a restaurant to attending a special event to going to the dentist?

Alas, the luck runs out eventually, and when it does, here’s what to expect from a moderate case (not mild, not severe, but quite crappy enough to take one out of commission for 5-10 days and leave lingering after-effects for an indeterminate period of time):

C – coughing (for hours – procure many cough drops), chills (requiring multiple blankets), and crankiness (probably good so others will be inclined to steer clear)

O – occasional fever (low to high – suggest Tylenol), nausea (suggest Ginger Gravol and peppermints), body aches, insomnia, volcanically hot feet, chest tightness, ear blockages, random heart palpitations, headaches, and desperate sensation of breathing in hay dust when no bales of hay are near (suggest asking doc about an inhaler)

V – variable sore throat (suggest Tylenol and throat spray), and nasal congestion (suggest much facial tissue and Vicks vapo rub/inhaler)

I – insurmountable fatigue to the point that any usual daily activity more than the absolute minimum is going to fall by the wayside 

D – drenching sweats, dislike of certain foods, and disgust at how long the damn sickness lingers

So…please take care out there, people. Protect yourself, protect others, and prepare. Unless you’re living off the land and off-grid with no human contact, COVID is lying in wait to turn the tables – even if it has done so before. While it’s not yet the Star Trek Borg – resistance isn’t futile – every risk makes assimilation into the statistics that much more likely, and there’s no way of knowing how hard you’ll be hit – from seven to snake eyes.

A growing luminescence  

About six years ago, I did that thing women of a certain age aren’t “supposed” to do: I stopped colouring my hair. Soon afterward, a female acquaintance of similar vintage felt compelled to provide a report, which she delivered with a combination of concern and competitive glee, on the number of shady interlopers congregating in back, suggesting I was overdue for a salon visit.

Going au naturel, so to speak, evokes an astonishingly visceral reaction. How dare I actually choose to do so? After all, the right shade, savvy marketers purr, will make all the difference. You will still be you, but a better you, defying the slings and arrows of Mother Nature and Father Time through a shimmering, multi-dimensional forcefield. If it doesn’t work out, just pick another colour. With a little effort, a fair bit of cash, and a slightly itchy scalp, you can not only look glam, but also fight the clock!

Do not curse me, manufacturers and purveyors of hair-colour products, for I’m sure I kept you solvent in my many years of trying to keep up appearances. And not just for grey coverage, but style. More than once I left the salon with something far too dramatic, acquiescing to the whims of stylists and, after wincing repeatedly at my reflection, sought a home remedy to tone it down. The result was usually odd with copper highlights. Then I’d wash it multitudinous times to fade it, tie it back and vow to never do the same again.

Until I did. There’s something mesmerizing about what happens in that salon chair, whether it’s sitting primly while adorned with a crown of foil – a look that could easily be mistaken for an attempt to receive alien radio signals instead of highlights – or the subdued calm induced by tightly bundled plastic wrap for colour processing. Call it the magic of anticipation; the promise of crowning glory.

I attempted to rediscover my natural colour in my 30s, thinking I’d just get it back to “normal” and leave it alone, scouring the aisles of permanent and semi-permanent hues for the ever-elusive match. During this Holy-Grail quest, an intriguing new trend surfaced amongst younger women as they took the shades once designed to ease women into senior citizenry and inverted them, showing brunette, ginger and flaxen roots atop greyscale locks. ‎At first, I thought it was a bold feminist statement, but I ultimately realized it to be no different than the incipient expressions of individuality my friends and I experimented with in our teens. Back then, lemon juice and sunshine were all you needed.

Despite the pleas and thinly veiled disdain, I’m sticking to the plan and avoiding the telltale stripe that is a recurring side-effect of colouring beyond a certain time. The first two years were moderately dreadful, but with a modicum of patience – all right, an abundance of patience – you, too, can discover and embrace your authentic shade after years of colouring. Mine turned out to be chocolate brown with a touch of auburn and a growing luminescence. But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of bling.