There’s no easy to way to write this, and not just because I’ve given myself crippling carpal tunnel (thank you very much, recently re-discovered Guitar Hero gaming console).
Anyway, I’ve always been different, and … well … what I’m trying to say is: I’m ginger. By this I mean a carrot top, a cherry bomb, frecklejuice. You know, a redhead.
It may be difficult to hear, especially for those who picture me as a dark, rugged, Antonio Banderas type. But I just can’t keep silent any longer. In fact, lately I’ve wanted to shout it from the rooftops (metaphorically speaking, of course — I swore off extension ladders after I turned 40).
Let me explain. The other day, a fellow Flamin’ Hot Cheeto shared a story with me about “Ginger Days,” a three-day redhead festival held every September in Hamburg, Germany. I really should go one of these years, before my beard turns white; I’m already bald.
More importantly, this piece linked to a related article from “Maxim” magazine: apparently, outpaced by skyrocketing demand, sperm banks are actively seeking redheaded depositors. That’s right: women want our, er, “donations.”
Now, this marks a stark reversal. You see, in 2011, Cryos, the world’s largest sperm bank, actually stopped accepting redheaded donors, citing no market. Indeed, at the time some scientists predicted that natural redheads might go extinct as early as 2060. Well, not any more! See, millennials don’t kill everything (just bar soap, American cheese and Red Lobster).
And so the time has come, orange friends, to dispel “gingerphobia,” once and for all.
At certain points throughout history, red hair was considered to be the sign of a witch, werewolf or vampire — think Susan Sarondon in “Witches of Eastwick”; Michael J. Fox in “Teen Wolf” and the redheaded hottie on “True Blood.” Seriously, though, during the Spanish Inquisition, they burned redheads at the stake.
In Medieval times, people also associated red hair with moral degradation and beastly desire. They may have a point, there; I’m definitely prone to both. Indeed, common belief still holds that redheads possess fiery tempers and sharp tongues — what the eff! I’ll curb the next mofo who spews that sugar-honey-iced-tea out his lemon-flavored beverage hole! Also, according to “South Park,” redheads have no souls. Not true. We have souls; we just don’t expose them to direct sunlight.
So, my redheaded brothers and sisters, what can we do to stem the tide?
For one, we flip the script, so to speak. For example, in 2008, the “Kick a Ginger” Facebook group established a “National Kick a Ginger Day.” In response, a separate Facebook group began “Kiss a Ginger Day.” Maybe one day we’ll have “Intercourse a Ginger Day.” But I won’t hold my breath.
Come to think of it let’s take back the word entirely. To borrow from James Brown: say it loud — I’m ginger and proud!
Which reminds me, in Australia, redheads aren’t referred to as gingers, but “rangas,” derived from “orangutan.” I think that’s cool. Orangutans rank among the most intelligent primates and their arms are wicked long — I could drive and smack my kids at the same time. Of course, I wouldn’t beat them “like redheaded stepchildren,” because for one, I’m their biological father, and two, they’re strawberry blonde, and that’s not the same.
You know what else I’m going to do from now on? Stop helping my mom “pass.”
The only people who’ve consistently prized red hair are older women who spend hours slathered in chemicals, wrapped in foil and baking beneath giant cone-shaped head kilns to achieve it.
My natural gingerhood allows my mom to fake hers without anyone suspecting. No more! Next time one of my mom’s gravel-voiced septuagenarian friends says to me “I see where you get your red hair,” instead of smiling politely, I’m going to tell her it comes from a mutation in my MC1R gene, not Fantastic Sam’s Cut and Color.
But lastly, and most importantly, we need to change the ginger narrative to highlight all our positive contributions.
Dig this list of notable gingers: Ed Sheeran; Willie Nelson; Shaun White; Lucille Ball; original signer of the Declaration of Independence and coiner of the phrase “give me liberty or give me death” Patrick Henry; Dave Mustaine, founder of Megadeth and original lead guitarist for Metallica until they kicked him out (for heroin, not for being a ginger); female professional wrestler the Fabulous Moolah; Lucky the Leprechaun; Red Skelton; former tennis star Boris Becker; Beaker from the Muppets; basketball player/announcer Bill Walton; Ron Weasley; Judas Iscariot; Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice); Napoleon; Winston Churchill; Seth Green; Eric the Red; Axl Rose and the Little Mermaid. Oh, and Bozo the Clown.
Who among them will unite us? Prince Harry? Molly Ringwald? Conan?
Perhaps I’ll raise the question at next Ginger Days.