Scared Straight

May 2nd, 2012

One of my very favorite rules to live by is this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Most days, I can easily accomplish this by eating expired Greek yogurt or trying to squeeze into my pre-baby silk cargo pants from 1999. (OMG, remember when we all used to shop at The Limited? Wasn’t that hilarious?) But every once in a while, I suck it up and try my best to do something really truly scary, such as:

• Watching a Kevin James movie without a morphine drip and anti-nausea meds

• Actually closing my eyes when one of my kids says, “Mom, close your eyes!”

• Clicking on a flashing “RUTH BADER GINSBURG NAKE PIX!!!!” link

• Bursting into a PTO meeting with a jug of wine and screaming, “Yo, where da white women ats?!”

• Weighing myself after Pork Night

I’m sure any one of those things would make a lesser person wet their pants and start downing Xanax like candy corn, but not me, sir! No way! For I am a brave, strong woman who was raised on the North Dakota plains! Also, I think I might have some slight brain damage due to the over-use of Benadryl.

But the point is, nothing makes you feel more alive than doing something that makes your stomach hurt and your armpits sweat like Albert Brooks’ in Broadcast News. Which is why I recently did a few even more terrifying things during my day to day life.

The first was appearing on live local television with Liz and Carlotta to promote Listen To Your Mother Austin. I am a well-known cameraphobe, so my friends and family knew this was a big deal for me. In fact, my kind father even suggested that I appear on TV with “a glass of wine in hand, like that Kathie Lee person—-you’d be much better that way.” At least he didn’t suggest I guzzle vodka to “up my personality” like my mom did when I told her I was trying out for Tic-Tac-Dough in 1991.

The interview went perfectly well and my friend Kevin was even nice enough to tell me I was very brave to face my fears—but even more brave to wear horizontal stripes on TV. Thanks, Kevin!

 Photo courtesy of the wonderful @c_linnell.

The next nerve racking thing I did was co-produce/direct and emcee the Listen To Your Mother Austin show last Sunday. However, thanks to our incredible cast, the show went flawlessly and was a huge success. More on that later when the videos are up and ready for you all to watch repeatedly.

Finally, the single most frightening thing I’ve ever done in my life happened this morning. For some insane reason (midlife crisis), I decided to change my hair color from my natural-with-highlights-blonde to something more dramatic and cool, which I’ve never, ever done before (midlife crisis). So I bought a $5 box of “Light Auburn” hair color, took a deep breath and slathered it all over my head for 10 minutes (midlife crisis).

The results? Well, let’s just hear some of the rave reviews!

My husband: “Wow! Look at your hair! Do you want to borrow my Nike hat?”

My friend Liz: “Oh, no, Wendi. That’s not a wig is it? Because at least a wig you could take off. That looks like something from the party store. (giggle fit)”

The salon I called in a panic to set up a re-blonding appointment: “Based on your description, Mrs. Aarons, you should plan on being here for most of the morning on Friday.”

My friend Monica: “Hey, maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll all fall out, right?”

Yes, I’m now a demented Lucy Ricardo. My hair is red and blonde and grey and it looks like I crashed headfirst into a clown. I keep startling myself every time I pass a mirror because I think Carrot Top is chasing me. Oh, man, was that $5 well spent or what?!

But the important thing is not only did I do one thing today that scared me, I did one thing today that scares every man, woman, child and domesticated animal in the greater Austin metropolitan area. Huzzah! See for yourself what my new, foxy red hair looks like:


Okay, that’s obviously not me because I always take the price tags off my top hats. Here’s the real picture:


Questions: Where did that giant ridge come from? Why does it look like amateur tie-dye? Will the salon be able to fix it? How much will the fixing cost? If I cut it off, could I sell it to the Sesame Street Workshop as raw Muppet material? Is my mother now freaking out that it’ll look this way at their 50th Anniversary party this summer? Why is it four shades darker in the front? And what the f&*kity f*&k was I thinking?!


What I do know is that the next time I decide to do something scary, it’ll probably be something that I put a hell of a lot more thought into.

And it probably won’t come in a $5 box, either.

Update: Liz took that hair picture, so please read her very wonderful comment below. And I just learned that the hair color supposedly goes away after “28 shampoos.” So I took a shower and washed it four times. I think I’ll be showering a lot.



Entry Filed under: Uncategorized


Add your own

  • 1. Alexandra  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:03 pm


    Two things to say:

    You’d do Eleanor Roosevelt proud.


    Lucky you’re so cute that hair is secondary


    (P.S. it is only hair…xo)

  • 2. Roxanne  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Oh dear.

    And I laugh-choked at the first red-head picture.

  • 3. Wendi  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    It’s not that bad, but it will get better. Also, kudos to you on all accounts, even the crazy hair dye! And finally, did I know you were from ND? Is that why I like you, aside from the fact that I, TOO, am a Wendi from NoDak? :)

  • 4. Neil  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t have perfect hair either. Congrats on your recent accomplishments.

  • 5. Cait  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Oh poor Wendi! Rule number 1 of being a woman is never ever ever dye your own hair. Frenchy from Grease taught us that. It could be worse, though. You’re not missing chunks of hair and nothing’s green.

  • 6. hokgardner  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Looks like when I turn my hair pink. The difference is that I’m actually trying to turn my hair pink.

  • 7. Becky Mochaface  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Eleanor Roosevelt is so proud.

  • 8. Kristen  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Oh my god, I have been there. Except, instead of the tie dye red, I had ash green and brown one time, and another time, I had actual bronze polkadots all over my head.

    By “most of the morning” I think they really mean “pack your jammies b/c you’ll see the light of day again on Sunday,” and as far as cost goes … well, you’re going to be buying cheaper wine in the coming days. Hasn’t the price of Arbor Mist gone down recently?

  • 9. Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I say this as an honest friend and as someone who saw the hairdo this morning…that photo does not do it justice. The dye job is way worse in person! (Mwah!)

  • 10. Bitsy  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I think I love you.

  • 11. Mandy  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I do exactly this every 8 years or so. I forget about the evil, evil drugstore hair dye aisle and think “This’ll be fun!” And it is. Until I wash it out.

  • 12. Kyran  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Oh dear. The only thing worse than a botched d-i-y dye job is having to face your stylist. Hopefully they won’t make you stand in the town square as an example to all.

  • 13. Hope  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Y’know, you were brave, and you got a great post! And, more important, you know a great salon, and that’ll be just–great!

    I love the E. Roosevelt quote. I try to live by it, but I’m such a chicken that I can’t even think about what scares me. Except getting horrid comments on my Motherlode post. That turned out to be scary.

  • 14. Suniverse  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I think you can take a week off of doing scary stuff.

    Although, if you want to fuck with the PTO, this is your opportunity. Go in with that hair and they will see you have no fear. It’s like beating the shit out of the toughest guy in prison, suburban style.

  • 15. dusty earth mother  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Wendi, Wendi, why didn’t you tell me that you were jonesing for red locks? Woulda brought my stuff to Erma and we could have been twins! Oh. Maybe I just answered my own question.

  • 16. Stephanie  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I’m sitting at the allergist and they just took my phone away from me, mid-post, to give me my shot. I nearly lost it. I’m sure you could get the other 24 washes in over the next, oh, four or five hours. They’ll fix it and it will look great. Five dollars well spent, though. That was hilarious.

  • 17. Leigh Ann  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    In high school I put the huge blonde chunks in my hair, and then dyed it red a couple months later. More like maroon. The brown hair was about the color of a Dr Pepper can and the blonde chunks were now OMG RED. When I went to work everyone was all “WTF did you do to your hair?” And when I said I would be late the next day to get it fixed, they were all, “That’s okay…you need to fix that.” And it really did take all day just about.

  • 18. tracy@sellabitmum  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Wait – I’ll get to your hair in a minute – are we NOT suppose to shop at the Limited anymore? I thought the salespeople now calling me ‘mom’ was a compliment? No?

  • 19. WebSavvyMom  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    –>You is smart. You is kind. You is beautiful.


  • 20. Samina  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Hey Strawberry Shortcake, would you have jumped off a cliff if Eleanor Roosevelt told you to? Yeah, I thought so.

  • 21. Maria Butts  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    You would be banned from our middle school with that hair. I was hoping to call you Lucy or have you play Grace to my Will for the next week, but it looks like that won’t happen. Go OC Housewives Blonde! Do it!!!!!

  • 22. Julia Steele  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Aveda sells a shampoo that will lift it if you have an Aveda salon nearby. Otherwise, try a drop of Dawn in your regular shampoo. Or vodka will work too. For your hair or your attitude.

    Signed, Done the same thing

  • 23. Marta  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Um… it looks… okay. Maybe you can use those silk Limited pants to make some sort of head wrap. Kind of like a thneed in the Lorax?

  • 24. Muffintopmommy  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 4:13 pm


    I would have sympathy for your hairtastrophe, but your bitter and repeated contempt for Kevin James leaves me no room but to relay your name, address, phone number and secret MySpace page to another saucy red head I know. I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy being on Mr. Trump’s next show. He’s always looking for raw talent, and I feel confident your track record of “living large and taking charge” will really tip the scales in your favor!

    I’m thinking you, Chastity Bono, Sandra Rinomato (Canada! Represent!) and Kevin would make quite a team!

    Best wishes!

  • 25. Kim @The Fordeville Diaries  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I don’t think Eleanor Roosevelt was in any position to be giving out advice pertaining to hair. But at least you have a reason to shower often — let me know what that’s like.

  • 26. Suebob  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I got summa that 28 shampoo hair color the day before going to Creative Alliance 10, to meet a bunch of cool blogger-women. I thought it was my regular color (Pecan) but it was about 2 shades darker (Chestnut). Then I left it on too long. The result was Imelda Marcos colored hair, not the nice medium brown I had envisioned. I washed and rewashed to no avail. The people at CA10 were nice anyway.

  • 27. mbw33  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    My friends once “convinced” me that I would be adorable with Sarah Palin auburn hair…be very afraid of the word auburn when connected to the word hair!

  • 28. Suzy  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Believe it or not, I was going to do this exact same thing. After seeing some pictures of myself taken on the set of Jessica Bern’s web series I decided my hair was too blond. And not in a good way. It just looked wrong, witchy and dry. So I was going to BUY A BOTTLE OF LIGHT BROWN DYE TO FIX IT.

    I guess not, huh?

  • 29. Letty  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I always want to dye my hair red, even though I have naturally black hair. On three separate occasions I tried dying my hair a deep auburn and was left with BRIGHT red roots and the rest of my hair black. I am almost thirty and way too old to be rocking the goth look. I worked it for a while and told people that it was a reverse ombre.

  • 30. Stefani  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    You are my hero along with your LTYM cast. I enjoyed the show but have to admit it left me feeling sad for being too chicken to submit and try out. Next year.

  • 31. Alexandra  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    You know, ombre hair is all the rage these days. You’re simply on-trend.

    (I write this the day after I decided to dye my hair and it inevitably is a mess that will require professional help. And perhaps additional professional help because I have done this to myself more than once and yet I never learn.)

  • 32. Mirth  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Dude, that’s not even horrible, I’ve seen the teenagers around here that do that on purpose. Having said that, did you know that if you dye your hair at home with the same color more than once that you’re only supposed to do the roots? Apparently if you dye the whole shebang repeatedly you get stripes of color. Who knew? Also, when you’re in your hairdresser’s chair and he spends twenty minutes running his fingers through your hair and sighing while the rest of the employees stand around wondering how he’s going to fix “one that bad” you get a real sense of perspective on how cheap that hair dye really wasn’t. Thanks for documenting the error of your ways.

  • 33. Sarah  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Oh Wendi I want to thank you from the bottom of my squishy heart. I have been told by a few people lately that my blonde would “really look cute” if I colored my hair strawberry blonde or auburn. I have been hesitant. Even called my neighbor the stylist to get her input on dye. You may be horrified and slightly embarassed but, take heart that you saved at least one person from making the same mistake. And really, isn’t being a cautionary tale much cooler? Maybe not.
    As the sucker…er…INVOLVED parent who just threw her hat in for PTO Chairperson, you are my hero.
    Also, I think that f&*kity f*&k should be a phrase used at least once a day. I think I’ll plan to use it in every PTO meeting…

  • 34. Laffin' So Hard  |  May 2nd, 2012 at 11:21 pm


    I’m proud of you.

  • 35. amy  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Thank you I love what you did to your hair and I think the ridge was from a ponytail? and I wish we had the Listen to your Mom in CLE. and you can come emcee it. Then we can meet and have some wine and laugh our asses off.

  • 36. Sue  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Ok, I teach sixth grade so nothing much scares me. But I also have a bad dye job story. I decided to highlight my own hair by simply combing the solution through my hair. (dip and comb, dip and comb, dip and dip and dip and comb). My hair was Fisher Price yellow. Yep, and you guessed it-I was supposed to go to a wedding the next day. I spent the next 6 months having my hair dyed its natural color (contradiction in terms?). Ooops. Time to face the kids-where did I put my vodka?

  • 37. Cheryl  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 6:20 am

    All laughed out from this post and this thread.

  • 38. Missy @ Wonder, Friend  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 6:32 am

    I had lavender silk capris and a matching suit jacket. Hot.

    So. The hair. Just yesterday I was thinking about doing something drastic to my cut and color. Thank you for setting me straight.

    (A friend of mine accidentally went Goth black last summer and the stylist told her, “It will take many hours and many hundreds of dollars to fix this.” And it did. Take reading material and snacks, like a flask, with you on Friday.)

  • 39. Tara  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Are we not supposed to shop at The Limited anymore?

  • 40. By Word of Mouth Musings  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Good Lord woman … should have let me have a go ;)

  • 41. Becky  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 7:59 am

    At least we know where to find you on Friday morning. Does that mean your usual “classroom mom” gig is open that day?

  • 42. headspot  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Every so often I leave my comfort zone, because I feel like I should, and I think “how bad could it be?” And usually, I find out just how bad it really is!
    I’ll have to try drugstore hair dye though – I mean, c’mon, how bad could it be?

  • 43. Jeffrey Trapnell  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 8:36 am

    There is a reason they don’t sell hair color and alcohol on the same isle at the grocery store!

  • 44. Jillian  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Been there, done that, bought that t-shirt! (Do they make t-shirts that say “I dyed my blonde hair red and it turned as neon pink as an Open sign from a beer-soaked dive bar”? They really should.)

    LOVE your blog, Wendi!!

  • 45. AimeeKay  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I found out a long time ago that if I’m not careful when I dye my hair, I end up with zebra stripes.(no idea how that happens) I’ve also tried to strip the color from my hair and ended up with a weird yellow,orange, flame red combo that I had to live with for weeks, cause the hair salon said it would probably fall out if I messed with it too soon.. Now I have a tendency to dye my hair eggplant purple every few years. My kids no longer think this is cool mom behavior. However I have noticed that fewer people talk to me when my hair is that shade of purple. So at least that’s a bonus right??
    But at least you did this AFTER you were on t.v. and not before. Plus you get to spend a whole day at the salon, why not make a mini-vacay out of it, schedule a mani-pedi too while you’re there.

  • 46. JC  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 9:40 am

    At least you still see some blonde. I wanted a darker shade of blonde and ended up all Elvira-ish. So I hopped my a$$ on a plane from the midwest to sunny Florida and between the ocean’s salt water and the sun, I am now a highlighted brunette.

  • 47. Dynelle  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Hence the use of the name “Dynelle”. Cheap, non-human hair wigs. Once had a perm come out with clumps of hair missing while my German hairdresser had a screaming fight with his wife (also German). Switched to Iranians after that – so much more rational!
    Thanks for your posts – I always enjoy them.

  • 48. Carinn @welcometothemotherhood  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Mid-life crisis looks great on you. Keep it up. Absolutely hysterical post.

  • 49. Kris Kendrick  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Have have one word for you the next time you want red hair: henna.

  • 50. Sue  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Two days before my senior yearbook picture was to be taken I asked my mom to give me a Toni home perm. How’d it go? Just take Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever album, tone down the psychotic stare and lose the mustache, you’ll know the results. Here’s to ER and all of life’s scares!

  • 51. The Flying Chalupa  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I don’t know what you’re talking about – THAT IS 50 SHADES OF AWESOME!

    Listen, can you go scare my mom’s weird neighbor?

    Can’t wait to see the LTYM video!
    Congrats again!

  • 52. Sans Likes Redheads.  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I went hunting for the Wendi LTYM interview on the weareaustin website.
    That I finally found her underneath the ‘Man Charged For Indecency On Capital Metro Bus.’
    was just bliss.
    Now, that’s red hair. :¬)

  • 53. Libby  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Good for you! You look good on air.

    Next up? Kill a clown. With your bare hands.

  • 54. Ann  |  May 3rd, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    My Chatty Cathy has finally found her birth Mom!

  • 55. Lovelyn  |  May 4th, 2012 at 4:12 am

    I love that Eleanor Roosevelt quote too. Unfortunately, I don’t actually do anything scary most days. I have a slight heart murmur so I don’t want to take any chances. I guess that’s why I never dye my own hair.

  • 56. Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes  |  May 4th, 2012 at 5:34 am

    You know how people always tell you that dyed hair will turn green if you go swimming/sunning with it? That is not an urban legend.

  • 57. Jen  |  May 4th, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Ha I did the exact same thing last month! I too am blessed with “natural” bleach blonde hair, and decided to go red with colorsilk (thinking long beautiful raven locks) and I also ended up looking like a pink punk rocker. I took me 4 “natural” blonde boxes of dye to get me back to my old self. Never again! Blondes have more fun.

  • 58. Always Home and Uncool  |  May 4th, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I also pointed out you were wearing the same outfit on TV that you are wearing in your Twitter avatar. I’m good like that.

  • 59. kathykate  |  May 4th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    You could be a body double for Strawberry Shortcake dolls! Leave it — just go get the matching outfit and parade around town!

    LTYM some scary stuff: thanks for making the show a huge success.

  • 60. Erin@MommyontheSpot  |  May 4th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Hey, sometimes with risks, it doesn’t always work out. At least it’s something like hair and not say a faulty zip line, right?

    Hair dressers are trained for these kinds of situations. I should know. I’ve made a few mistakes myself.

  • 61. Fun with the Allergy Doct&hellip  |  May 5th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    [...] was sitting in the waiting room this Wednesday, thoroughly enjoying Wendi Aarons’ post about dyeing her hair pink, when she poked her bony, blonde head out from behind a door and called me [...]

  • 62. the mama bird diaries  |  May 6th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    As a blond, who once went totally brunette, don’t even try washing it with Tide. It doesn’t work.

    That’s a pony tail ridge. Right?!

  • 63. julie gardner  |  May 7th, 2012 at 2:06 pm


    Pork Night.

  • 64. Jen  |  May 7th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Wow! You have accomplished a lot recently. Can’t wait to see the sure you were great. So glad you waited to dye your hair until after the television gig. Although, it did make for great blog material.

  • 65. Invader_Stu  |  May 8th, 2012 at 4:36 am

    I can’t watch Adam Sandler movies without a morphine drip and anti-nausea meds

  • 66. Tracy Beckerman  |  May 8th, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I’ve actually seen worse… on me! Did the EXACT SAME THING for the EXACT SAME REASON, two days before Mom 2.0. Decided to switch it up from Medium Brown to Warm Medium Brown. Who knew “warm” was actually a euphemism for “orange.” Yeah, I was rocking the Bozo look, but with my short hair, I looked more like a carrot colored Chia Pet. Not a good look for either a Chia Pet or a 47 year old woman. I got an intervention from the Clairol Hair Color Emergency Hotline and they talked me through a recolor. Went too dark and now I look like Elvira. Isn’t it great to be a woman?

  • 67. Claire  |  May 8th, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Get yourself some of those feather extensions and you’ll have a back-up career as a pink peacock.

    Funny post!!

    And ladies, remember, red hair not for the faint of heart; it’s for the awesome of the species. Me. <3

  • 68. malibuskipper  |  May 8th, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I did that before. Right before I went to meet my MIL for the first time. I was horrified and she talked about it for years afterward but she’s a real b!tch so I ignore her anyway. Plus she has hair like Blanche Deveraux from the Golden Girls only Blanche had far more style. I digress but mine faded quick however I did go get it fixed professionally and it looked fine.

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