My hair is mostly white now, but I grew up with red hair.  Not the orange Howdy-Doody kind, more like an auburn, augmented heavily with cowlicks and freckles.  And while Charlie Brown had a crush on the little red-haired girl, it seemed to me in my youth no one had a crush on the little red-haired boy.

Children and adults alike had names for me.  Red.  Red on the head.  Ginger.  Copper-top.  Carrot-top.  Woody Woodpecker.  And at one point in my teen years, I actually was a red-headed stepchild.

I am the only one that I know of with red hair in the lineage leading up to me.  Now, post me, there’s a bunch of ginger.  But up until me, I was the odd one with different coloring.  You might suspect the mailman, but I look exactly like my father.

People single you out for being not just white, but an extremely pale white.  Some people are attracted to the ginger, others are turned off.  My wife will tell you that one of her mother’s early warnings about dating was to stay away from people with red hair.  My wife has confessed to me that the only reason she went against her mother’s advice was because at least I had brown eyes.

Hey, being a ginger seems normal to me, but science is against me.  There are studies that show gingers can tolerate more pain.  Maybe.  When I broke 2 ribs in 2012, people in the emergency room asked what my pain level was.  “Tell us a number between 1 and 10, with 10 being the most severe.”

I got a few raised eyebrows when I replied, “I don’t know.  Three?”  To me, it felt like a 3.  The raised eyebrows indicated I should have said something more like 7.

Gingers need more of a drug to have the same effect.  From my personal perspective, I heartily agree.  I’ve always been able to imbibe.  In my more piratical days, I had a wooden leg and a hollow one.  When I tried laughing gas during a dental procedure many years ago, I felt nothing.  I asked for more and was told they were already giving me the maximum dosage.  And had been for 20 minutes.

When I cracked a molar a few years back and had to go in on a Saturday, the dentist was amazed that she had to administer anesthetic 3 times before I completely numbed.  It was an hour before she could start.

Right out of the womb, I was 20 times more at peril than non-reds for skin damage and 100 times more likely to get the most aggressive skin cancers.  As a child, in the days before anyone knew what sunscreen was, I made several attempts to cement my likelihood of getting skin cancer sometime during my life.

On one occasion, after spending an entire day frolicking at the beach with the YMCA summer day camp, I ended up in the hospital with fever convulsions.  I’ve had sunburns where I begged my mother to pop the blisters on my shoulders to relieve the pressure on my skin.  I’ve been burned so bad on my back that my skin stuck to the fabric of my shirt.

I am un-tan-able.

Trust me.  The sun always wins.

But enough about ginger bacon.  What else do we know about redheads?

I looked up redheads on the internet.

Well, let me tell ya, I’m glad I didn’t look up my condition earlier in life.  I would have ended up with more of an inferiority complex than I already have.  Throughout history, our kind have been prized, feared, but mostly ridiculed.  I never knew all you non-redheads hated us so much.  What the hell.

Even though nobody knows what color hair Judas had, when the old masters painted him, they stuck red hair on him.  Only him.

Fast forward to medieval times.  They thought we were vampires.  The Jewish population had an abundance of red hair during that time.  So when the Spanish Inquisition came along, the inquisitors simplified things by declaring all redheads Jewish.

Even in modern times, people have a problem with us.

In Britain, they toyed with the idea of passing a hate crime law as a result of attacks against people who were assaulted specifically because they had red hair.  It didn’t pass.  Probably because there’s enough blondes and brunettes in Parliament that still want us dead.

In a way, I can understand why the Brits have such a hot bed of problems specific to gingers.  The average percentage of redheads throughout the world is 1 – 2%.  But in the British Isles, it bumps up against 10%.  So if you hate people with red hair, that’s the place to hunt them down.  It is not uncommon there to hear a redhead called ginger or Ginga, and normally this is applied as an insult.  The Brits actually have the words “gingerphobic” and “gingerism” in their vocabulary.

But wait.  They don’t stop there.  In addition to the nicknames I grew up with in the states, the Brits pile on Carrot Head.  Man.  Really?  I almost get Carrot Top.  Especially when it comes to my Howdy-Doody compatriots.  But Carrot Head?


The more I read, the more distressed I got.

South Park has come after us a few times.

In late 2008, Facebook documented over 5,000 members on the “Kick a Ginger” site.

In 2009, a British supermarket chain had to withdraw Christmas promotional ads depicting Santa holding a redheaded kid on his lap.  The caption below the picture:  “Santa loves all kids.  Even ginger ones.”

If all this wasn’t bad enough, the Cryos sperm bank announced recently it was no longer taking donations from people with red hair.  No sperm for you.  Nobody wants it.

So why the hate, my brothers and sisters?  What is it that sets you off about us?

I heard the rumors growing up.

We’re over-sexed.  Well.  Not anymore.

We have sharp tongues.  Yes.  Mea culpa.  It is a constant effort to stifle myself.

And of course, there’s the fiery temper.  So there’s levels of that.  You can be van Gogh, a ginger who got so distraught, he cut his own ear off.  I don’t plan on mailing my ear to anyone, but you have me on the temper thing.  I have a healthy bite and I know how to tap into it.  It’s effortless.  So much so, I can’t always contain it.  I get shaking mad, levitating, having to grab onto things.  And talk about a laser beam?  Yeah, I can do that.  And mine goes up higher than eleven.  My hardest Doug Bari stare withers plants.

I do not hesitate to mach schau in flashpoint situations.

I’m trying to get better.  Consequently, Mr. Angerhead has been relegated to the closet and is only allowed out on special occasions.  I’m making an effort, but you blondes and brunettes don’t believe me, do you?  And I know why.

I’ve saved the best for last.  Yeah.  This is where I turn the tables on you anti-gingers.  I know what’s up.

I was watching Family Feud with my wife and the category was traits associated with redheads.  With the #1 answer still hidden, Temper was revealed as the #2 answer.  What?  Temper is only #2?  I gotta tell ya.  That stopped me in my tracks.  What could #1 possibly be?  The board flipped over to reveal:  CAN’T TRUST THEM

I sat back in my chair like Larry Fine retreating from a Moe slap.  “Can’t trust ’em?  What?”

Judy looked over at me and knowingly shrugged, “Yep.”

I swear to you, in all my days, I had never heard that.

My wife threw gasoline on the fire.  “Everybody knows that.”


Yeah.  Apparently really.

So let me get this straight.  I retain heat more than the average person, but I burn within minutes in direct sunlight unless I’ve liberally applied SPFs over 50, and then I’m only good for an hour.  I take 3 times as many needles at the dentist.  If I go in for major surgery, there is a chance I will awake during the procedure and not be able to move or speak.  Feeling everything and having to bite the bullet.  It’s happened.

I have all these physical traits, coupled with undesirable personality traits, and then you don’t trust me on top of that?


Glad my hair’s finally turning white.