I Found a Gray Pube the Other Day. I’m 25. AMA

I just turned 25 in December.

“You’ve got a gray hair… Hold on, let me get it.”

My aunt plucked my first gray hair from my scalp when I was about eleven or twelve. I was living in Florida with my family — we were at a wildlife sanctuary or something, showing my aunt the area while she was visiting from New York. My mom told her not to pull it out because then more gray hairs would grow in, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a myth.

She plucked it anyway.

By age fifteen, more grays had sprouted. Whether or not this was a direct result of my aunt’s rash decision, I’ll never be sure. I remember sitting on a hammock one summer, with the girl I liked standing behind me. We were already pretty close, and she was running her hands through my hair to mess it up because that was the cute thing to do when we were fifteen. She stopped.

“You have gray hairs.”

She didn’t seem to look at me any differently after that, but deep down I know she did. I mean, there’s no good reason to look at someone differently, but I guess having a noticeable salt-and-pepper thing going on at fifteen is a little strange.

During my sophomore year of high school, more hairs turned gray. I styled my hair every day, doing my best to hide what I considered my biggest insecurity at the time. I’d never leave the house without making sure my hair was gelled and looked wet, to minimize the visibility of these intruders. I was always careful when changing shirts in gym class, because I knew if I messed up my hair too much, everyone would see my grays.

Meet the newest Touch of Gray model for their millennial campaign.

Most of the time, I was able to get through gym without disturbing the peace on top of my head. It took Operation-level precision. But several times a week — without fail — one of my best friends would take it upon herself to disturb the peace. A single, quick, purposeful motion of the hand and WHOOSH, my hair was messed up.

As time went on, I learned her antics and was able to take preemptive measures against her attacks. I sat farther away from her at lunch or in class. I dodged her lazier strikes and pleaded with her to Staaahhhhppp. But it was funny how she didn’t know what she was doing, how she was exposing me. I didn’t want people to see my grays and then have to respond to jokes and questions about them. All this time, she probably thought I just didn’t want my hair messed up, like I was some kind of silly pretty-boy who was only worried about appearance and other kids’ opinions.

Then again, maybe I was.

I’ve colored my hair twice. The first time, when I got home from school on the last day of sophomore year. I needed a change, so I decided to go blonder. Because of my dark brown natural coloring, the blonde turned out to be more of a bronze. It looked horrendous, but it was a learning experience. I kept it long and bronze and terrible for about half of the summer. When I cut it, it looked not quite as bad but still pretty bad — with the sides and back brown again, and the top a lighter color I can only describe as bronze-ish.

Before I returned to high school in the fall, I colored it brown. For a majority of my junior year, my hair was brown again. I let it grow out long because I was afraid of what would happen when I cut it. I began to lose track of which brown was my natural hair color and which brown was the pretend one I was using to mask my grays.

My dad has a full head of gray hair. According to my mom and various old photos, he was basically completely “platinum” by the time he was eighteen. The biggest positive to take from this is that male pattern baldness does not run in my family. Another positive is that I’m graying at a slower pace than he experienced, and that my twenty-one year old brother is doing better than both of us in that regard.

Since high school, I’ve learned the secret to dealing with an insecurity: You have to own it. At some point in my senior year, people started noticing my gray hairs. A teacher said they made me look “distinguished.” An ex-girlfriend told me she hadn’t even noticed until someone else pointed them out.

Long before that, my barber commented on how young I was to have them. “Better than going bald, I guess,” I tried to joke with him. I was still insecure about it at the time. He was bald.

There used to be a set of rehearsed responses I had for situations like that, for when I was exposed. The baldness joke was my go-to. Another was, “Well, my dad had a full head of grays at eighteen.” And, “Yeah man, sucks,” was one of my favorites. Sometimes, I’d skip the verbal acknowledgement and just tilt my head forward and run my hand through my hair so the person could get a better view of my abnormality. (It’s cool to call it that, right?)

Now, I sort of just shrug it off:

“Painting the ceiling?” / “Going gray there, huh?” / “Damn, you’re getting old.”

“Yep. Been getting them since high school.”

That brings us to a few days ago. About to jump in the shower, I looked down and noticed a single pubic hair that was catching the light differently than its counterparts.

Is it…? It can’t be. It shan’t be… No, I’m only twenty-five. A GRAY PUBE. Omg what do I do?? This is surely the end. Before I know it, death’s warm embrace will sneak up from behind and claim me. Just take me now! I no longer want to breathe the borrowed air to which I’ve become accustomed. Swallow me whole and force me down into a pit of nothingness, where I can feel the sweet release of expiry!

So, what did I do?

I plucked it right the fuck out. And then shaved because come on, guys.

You can find more of Ryan’s work in Human Parts, The Coffeelicious, Absurdist, Life Tips, and The Bigger Picture. You can follow him on Twitter here or check out his website here. He’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!