Off the Press
July 27, 2010
By Laura Geggel
A hair-raising tale that will have you seeing red
The instant I popped out of my mother and into the delivery room, the nurse told my parents they had a redheaded daughter.
“Really?” my father asked, looking at my dark-haired mother and fingering his own dark waves. He said it was hard to tell because I was almost bald, but the nurse insisted it was red.
Now, thankfully, I have more hair, and yes, it has a red hue. So, it was exciting when I received one of my more curious news assignments this month: covering the Redheads and More Redheads Guinness World Record event at Skyline High School in Sammamish.
There were 901 thrilled redheads at Skyline, and though the most excited one of all, local photographer Anne Lindsay, wasn’t a natural ginger, she made up for it with her enthusiasm.
Lindsay called me the week before the occasion, proclaiming, “I’ll only talk to you if you have red hair,” before saying hello. I liked her immediately.
Lindsay said it was a good thing I have red hair, because only redheads would be allowed on Skyline’s field. I asked her how I could find her after the world record photo for an interview, and she said she would wear one black sandal and one white sandal — a reference to the days when she only took pictures in black and white.
Before I hung up, I caught myself from saying something I end most conversations with when I’m about to meet someone who doesn’t know what I look like:
“I’m easy to recognize, I have red hair.”
Being a redhead has its benefits, but it certainly gave my dark-haired brother fodder for teasing me, saying I was adopted. I never took him seriously, and found an ally in my grandfather, whom we all called Grandpa Red because of his red locks, though they had since turned blond.
“Is your hair still red?” he would ask me every time we talked on the phone. I always assured him it was.
Many people I met would compliment me on my hair, and their attention probably helped me grow out of my shy shell. Once, when I was in preschool, a talent scout who liked my hair stopped me and my mother in Bellevue Square, asking if I wanted to be a model. Not much later, a stewardess upgraded my entire family to first class on a plane trip to Hawaii because she thought my red hair was adorable.
Having red hair means I always have a fallback for Halloween costumes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been Pippi Longstocking, and recently I was Wendy, from the hamburger chain. This year, I plan to be reporter April O’Neil from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; all I need is the yellow jumpsuit and a turtle sidekick.
There is a drawback to having red hair, and I encountered it when I was dating someone who also had a red mop.
“Is that your brother?” people would ask me, not something I wanted to hear when I was introducing my boyfriend to them.
Redheads also have the misfortune of getting sunburned easily. At the world record event, Sammamish city councilman and TV personality John Curley joked that they were also setting the world record for the most sunburned people. I laughed, and doused myself with some more SPF. Once, when reporting on a story, I borrowed a woman’s straw hat to protect myself from the sun. At least I’m not the only pale person around — people living in the Pacific Northwest aren’t exactly known for their tans.
Surrounded by 900 other redheads at the event, I smiled at something Lindsay said before taking the picture: “We’re not carrot tops. If we were, we would all have green hair.”
Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.