Memory Lane

Being A Redhead … Being “Red”

So, when Black mentions Redhead Appreciation Day, I know it’s related to Red & Black and not her being “nice” and giving me a day off (or telling me that she appreciates me). And when she asks, “What is it like to be a redhead, Red?” part of me wants to reply, “What’s it like not to be a redhead?” because, for my entire life, I’ve been “Red.” (There’s a story there, but I’ll get to it later.) The honest answer is, well, I never thought about it, until now …

I know that redheads often have a reputation for being fiery and hot-tempered, but I managed to escape that characteristic. (Although it amuses me that many people make that assumption about me before they even get to know me.) Ironically, I’ve always preferred to blend in and not make any waves (good or bad). But being a redhead does tend to make you stand out in the crowd (unless, of course, you’re in Scotland or Ireland, in which case, being a redhead helps you blend in), and growing up, I just accepted the attention in my stride.

It never seemed to bother me. Not even when I lived in China, which was definitely an experience on so many fronts. But while many things were to be expected (and, to some degree, endured, but that’s another post for another day), being a redhead wasn’t something I thought about. Until the first time I went for a bike ride through the streets of Shanghai on a hot summer’s day,

Everyone was pointing at me. Was it because I was a Westerner on a bike? (This was in the 1990s, and I was part of the first wave of ex-pats in Shanghai.) Or maybe a woman alone? I know my pale skin and whiter than white legs weren’t anything special. Then I noticed that everyone was pointing at my hair. Being a redhead (especially with very long hair and before the days of bike helmets to hide it) in China meant I’d never escape being noticed.

Unfortunately, the other thing I’d never escape, like most fair skin people, especially redheads, is that my skin burns easily. Growing up, it was extremely frustrating as all my friends tanned (ok, this was in the days before we knew of the dangers of the sun), and I had only two color options – white and red (as in bright red!).

Then I started wondering whether being a redhead explains why I blush so easily (I can only imagine the research Black will send me, so I won’t mention it to her). Or whether it’s just a function of having such pale skin that makes it more noticeable. But just the thought of how easily I blush is embarrassing, which in turn causes me to blush. Which I guess makes me Red with a red face.

Interestingly, although I go by the nickname Red, I never knew of any other redheads called Red. Even my daughters, both redheads, have never been called Red. (Although they’d tell me that occasionally someone would call them “Ginger,” but each of them shut that down pretty quickly.) But being called Red has never bothered me, although it might be because of how my nickname originated.

Which is the story I alluded to earlier, and, of course, it’s all Black’s fault, so I’ll let her tell the story,

On the day my parents brought my sister home from the hospital, I quickly glanced at my new (and not entirely welcome) baby sister with her bright red hair, and immediately called her “Red.” To which my mother told me, and not in a kind motherly way, but instead rather emphatically, to NEVER call her that again. So, from that day forward, I never called her anything else.

Red's two Labradoodles

Photo taken by Red

If you asked Black about National Pet Month, she’d probably quote you statistics about the number of people who have pets and the health benefits, conveniently “forgetting” what she told Red about unconditional love. But Red would tell you that she celebrates Moo (read the original post from 2021 below to learn about the other “unusual names” of her four-legged family members) every day, letting her know with a hug and a cuddle how much she’s loved.

Red's Head

Well, this month marks 18 years since you changed my life, so I wanted to thank you. Again. For bringing such happiness into the lives of the girls and me, although some heartbreaking sadness, too. But there's nothing like unconditional love.

Black's HeadBlack

OK, but can you tell me what you are talking about?

Red's Head

Do you remember when I moved to Houston after living overseas, and we started going to the Hyatt Hill Country in San Antonio for Memorial Day weekend? You were married to Larry, and his girls were young, and Natasha and Sawyer were even younger. Well, in 2003 you asked me if it was OK if you got us a puppy.

Black's HeadBlack

You had always talked about getting a dog but wanted to have children first. The timing seemed right, but given your allergies, the options were limited. Until I learned about a new breed, well technically a mixed breed, originally developed in Australia to be hypoallergenic guide dogs.

Red's Head

I'll never forget you showing me photos of the most incredibly adorable dogs I'd ever seen. The fact Labradoodles were half standard poodle, which was what I had initially thought we'd get, and half Labrador Retriever was amazing. But only you could find the perfect dog from an article in a business magazine.
Keep Reading ...Show less

Another year, another Masters golf tournament! Now, it’s been decades since I was glued to the TV watching golf every weekend. But this year, even though I barely recognize the names of the top Masters contenders, I can’t wait to watch the first foursome tee off. That might not seem to make sense, but the Masters always features an honorary starter, and this year it’s my favorite golfer, Tom Watson. And while my favorite Masters memory is of meeting Arnold Palmer (see below), my favorite golf memory is when my dad and I watched the 1977 British Open at Turnberry and Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus (by one stroke).

For golfers, spring means another Masters golf tournament. Last year, everyone talked about the 35th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’s amazing come-from-behind victory to claim his 18th major championship. What made it even more amazing was that, at 46, no one thought he would ever win another major. This year, the talk’s all about Tiger Woods (now 46) competing on the 25th anniversary of his first Masters win. It’s a comeback story straight out of Hollywood as a serious car accident 14 months ago initially left people wondering if he would survive, let alone ever play golf again. (Which is reminiscent of when Ben Hogan, one of golf’s all-time greats, came back after a horrific car accident in 1949 to win The U.S. Open in 1950.)

For most golf fans and lovers of great sports comebacks stories, those are inspirational examples of never giving up. And although I was in the crowd around the 18th hole in 1986 when Jack Nicklaus raised his putter in triumph, that was my second favorite Masters memory. And my greatest memory at the Masters didn’t actually take place at the Masters. Well, not at the golf course, anyway.

Keep Reading ...Show less
Columbia Pictures

It’s Groundhog Day. Again! A day that reminds me of a great movie with a great message (see my thoughts below). Again. And this year, it reminds me that I have great friends. Now, you may wonder, what does that have to do with Groundhog Day? Well, a few years ago, I visited one of my dearest friends when she was living in Woodstock, IL, where the movie, “Groundhog Day” was filmed. Standing in the town square on a snowy night with one of my best friends is a day (well, technically a night) I’d be happy to repeat. Again and again.

Yes, I know that Groundhog Day was last week. But truth be told, on the actual day, I almost forgot that it was Groundhog Day. Until Black, on our morning phone call (we talk almost every morning – sometimes specific Red & Black items, sometimes current events, sometimes just "life") wishes me, "Happy Groundhog Day." Well, these days, every day feels like Groundhog Day, so I thought she was just being sarcastic, which wouldn't be unusual. When I started to reply with something like "yeah, same ole, same ole", I paused, because I realized, it really was Groundhog Day.

Keep Reading ...Show less