Sometime during the course of 2005, I decided to start coloring my hair. My natural medium brown was now giving way to some gray. And then some more gray. So, after a few threats, I went ahead and took the plunge. I dyed my hair jet black. I went to work the next day and, while dispensing a cup of coffee for myself in the company cafeteria, a co-worker sidled in close to me and asked: "Did you dye your hair?"
With the blankest of expressions on my face, I replied, "Um, yesterday my hair was brown. What do you think?"
And so began a new era in sarcasm from ol' Josh Pincus.
On my next haircut appointment I made the decision to go red. Not just any red. A unique red. The most unnaturally fake red you've ever seen. This is special-order red that no one else requests, save for the occasional circus clown. A red that called for a distinctive set of comebacks to be dispersed whenever I was asked about the color of my hair. I created a mental inventory of sass with an internal filing system, triggered by key words used by the overly curious who don't know how to mind their own fucking business.
I color my hair to stand out; to give an impression and to be remembered. "Hey, y'know that guy with the red hair?" is quite common at my place of employment and everyone knows that the reference is to me. But, there are tactful ways of delivering an inquiry without stating the obvious ("Gee, your hair is really red!") or becoming insulting ("What's up with the hair, dude?"). This is where sarcasm becomes a faux ginger's secret weapon.
One of the first victims of my arsenal of snide retorts was actor Ernie Hudson. Among his many film roles, Ernie is best known as "Winston Zeddemore," the Ghostbuster who wasn't Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd. Ernie was one of a few dozen celebrities signing autographs at a horror film convention that I attended. I stood in a fairly long line as Mr. Hudson, clad in his familiar tan ghostbusting jumpsuit, greeted fans and posed for pictures. Soon, I arrived at the front of the queue. I smiled and shook Ernie's hand and told him that I was a big fan of Ghostbusters. (I wasn't. I actually hate that movie.) Ernie studied my recently tinted coiffure and said, "Is that your real hair color?" Quickly, I looked Ernie straight in the eye and answered, "No, it's a side effect of chemotherapy." Ernie gulped and offered an apologetic smile coupled with a nervous laugh.
"Nah, I'm just fucking with you, Ernie.," I said, as I laughed right back at him. He looked relieved, shook my hand, and realized that he was just the victim of a gruesome joke. He posed for a photo and called me a jerk as we parted company. He was a good sport.
Recently, my wife and I ate at a local diner. After taking our order, the overly friendly waitress giggled and asked me, "Is that your natural hair color?"
"This?," I began, pointing to my head and gearing up to unleash a biting zinger, "This is no one's natural hair color."
Caught off-guard, she stumbled over her next few sentences, trying to justify her question, but not making any sense at all. "Just bring me my pancakes, sister.," I thought to myself, "You're lucky I've retired the cancer remark."