Step One: Invite your best ladyfriend over to help dye and cut your hair. Offer to pay in booze and dinner; revel in preparing a delicate light supper in the mode of a modern-day Martha Stewart. Put on your favorite apron, assemble a caprese salad, a tray of hors d’oeuvres, a glass pitcher of mango mojitos. Smile contentedly as you purée a fresh mango and muddle mint with a wooden spoon, as soft indie pop plays in the background.

Step Two: Give your friend a huge hug! Pour two tall glasses of mojito into tall tulip glasses, garnished with fresh lime. Enjoy a casual light dinner with the nice silverware and the candle centerpiece lit.

Step Three: Break out the hair dye! Bring your paint dropcloth into the center of your living room, and settle in with an old paint-splattered t-shirt and a few towels at the ready. Express your nerves about dying your hair blonde after so many years of brunette, but – you are young, you could totally pull it off, all your friends encouraged you. You are not going to back down. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this will be awesome. Refill your cocktail glass.

Step Four: Catch up with your best ladyfriend as she works; after all, that’s why this time is so special! Learn that bleach takes a long time to apply and then to process. Who knew? Refill your cocktail glass.

Step Five: Wait approximately one hour while your hair processes. Take a quick peek in the mirror and notice that large chunks of hair appear to be turning orange, while others remain stubbornly brown. Accept the reassurances of your gal pal that this is just how the process works. Refill your cocktail glass.

Step Six: Rinse the bleach in the paint sink in the basement! This can be somewhat uncomfortable and you will get chemicals in your ear. Take a look at yourself in the mirror and begin to notice, with increasing alarm, that you look decidedly less like iconic blonde starlet Marilyn Monroe and more like universally annoying comedian Carrot Top. Accept the reassurances of your best ladyfriend that we haven’t even put the dye in yet! Everything is fine – we just haven’t made you a blonde! We are right on track. Take a deep breath. Refill your cocktail glass!!

Step Seven: Apply blonde dye. Ignore urge to itch scalp repeatedly. Be less careful during the application process, as both of you are having a terrific evening. Wait twenty-five minutes. Talk about boys. Refill your cocktail glass.

Step Eight: Ohmygod I am so drunk I love you so much are you sure this is a good idea? Did I mention imm going to my coursin’s wedding this weekendt? There are gonna be lotfs of picturss. 

Step Nine: Rinse the dye out, condition, and blowdry. Do not fall down in the shower. Look in the mirror and gasp. You are a redhead! A sultry, gorgeous redhead. It’s not what you wanted, but damn, if you aren’t rocking it. The best accidents are the happy ones! Compare yourself mentally to Julianne Moore, Christina Henricks, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. You are a goddamned beautiful woman and you can pull this off and your life is amazing and what do you mean we finished off that pitcher? Thank god we keep this fully stocked bar in the kitchen over here.

Step Ten: Bid your friend a fond goodbye. Send a text message to a gentleman friend, informing him that you are newly redheaded and perhaps he would like to witness it in person? Receiving no response as it is now after one a.m. on a Tuesday, crawl into bed, your luscious red locks cascading over the pillow as you drift slowly, angelically, to sleep.

Step Eleven: Wake up with a pounding headache and the grave realization that you’ve dyed your hair straight-up ORANGE. You look like Wilma Flintstone after a hard night at a nineties grunge club.

Step Twelve: Answer the ringing doorbell, revealing the contractor you have completely forgotten was scheduled to fix the broken door today. Politely excuse yourself as you retrieve a trashcan and a bottle of Gatorade, and huddle in slow unrelenting misery on the couch.

Step Thirteen: Text your ginger roommate. Explain the situation. Send photos with the caption “I’m a monster!” Receive the following reply: “Keep it. Do a social experiment. See life through the eyes of a ginger! NOW YOU KNOW HOW WE FEEL.”

Step Fourteen: HATS. Peruse house looking for hats, ignoring mound of dishes and leftover mango purée stubbornly clinging to the kitchen sink. Find only pile of costume hats. Ponder options: Victorian top hat, straw boater, enormous floppy sunhat, fur bomber cap, propeller beanie.

Step Fifteen: Discover forgotten purple knit cap in bin of winter clothes. Shove orange hair under hat. Leave the house wearing large sunglasses. Realize that it is unseasonably warm. Drive to your workplace, ruing the day you were born. Ignore curious glances from co-workers wondering why you are wearing a purple winter hat on a beautiful summer day.

Step Sixteen: Receive text message reply from curious gentleman friend. Allow your stomach to slowly sink into ball of embarrassment. Do not throw up. Make mental note to never again operate a telephone under the influence of alcohol.

Step Seventeen: Buy another box of dye. Go home. Dye your hair the exact same shade it was yesterday. Ignore burning of scalp and condition the hell out of it. Do the dishes. Swear off drinking and dying, ever ever ever again.

Step Eighteen: Call your favorite ladyfriend and thank her for coming over last night. It’s been way too long. We should totally do this again soon.