For years, I stoutly resisted the notion–expressed on driver’s licenses and other official, descriptive documents–that I had brown hair and brown eyes. The word “brown” simply doesn’t really capture all of the virtually infinite, subtle variations and shadings of that hue, in the same way that “blue” doesn’t convey the obvious difference between a navy blue sport coat and the color of the water on a brilliantly sunny day on a Caribbean island. After careful analysis, I concluded that–to be precise–I had mahogany hair and burnt sienna eyes.

Alas! Although the eyes remain that sharp, piercing burnt sienna, the mahogany hair has turned on me. And as my hair color has changed, I’ve searched for words that aptly describe the new shade. “Gray,” like “brown,” is simply too generic. “Silver” isn’t a good match from a color standpoint. I briefly toyed with “pewter,” but decided it has too much of a colonial dinner plate connotation. “Smoke” and “fog” are evocative, but were a little too ephemeral for my taste. “Fossil” was rejected for obvious age-oriented reasons.

Eventually the choices were narrowed to “slate,” “graphite,” “lead,” and “flint.” Each has a clear mineral overtone and thereby communicates an entirely appropriate degree of personal ruggedness. After some meticulous color analysis, I’ve decided that “graphite” best captures my current hair hue, so that’s what I’m going with.

I wonder if “graphite” will be among the hair color options the next time I renew my driver’s license at the BMV?

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