Based in Noblesville, Indiana, Curtis writes the syndicated humor column, Grammar Guy. He also likes to write for startups.

The nod: a subtle acknowledgment between other redheads in the wild

The nod: a subtle acknowledgment between other redheads in the wild

Photo by  Caleb Lucas  on  Unsplash

Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash

There is most certainly an unspoken bond between redheads. We haven’t quite developed ESP in order to communicate with each other, but we do have a team of scientists working on it in a secret laboratory nestled in the Scottish Highlands. Redheads do, however, have one way to immediately identify and empathize with each other: the nod.

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t capitalize “the nod.” The capital The Nod belongs to black people. It is a subtle acknowledgment of solidarity that I cannot attempt to identify with, although I am occasionally on the receiving end of a peripheral, honorary Nod. You see, my son, Miles, is adopted from Ghana. Certain black people see me holding his hand while we’re walking down the street and extend The Nod to me as a way of saying “raise your son up right.” I get it. I will. Thanks for including me.

An act of redhead solidarity

The redhead nod is a tipping of the copper cap in order to identify with the other ginger’s unique, tawny majesty, a way of saying “you get me”. Most people can’t fathom what it’s like to require an adult swim shirt or otherwise spontaneously catch on fire from the sun’s oppressive rays—in November. If you don’t share our common mutation, you can never know the plight of people assuming you descend from leprechauns. We understand each other’s follicle infliction; it says “you and me are we.”

And I’ll say (in my experience) this secret way of acknowledging each other is generally shared by redheaded men. I think it’s because about half of the redheaded women out there aren’t natural gingers, so they lack the inherent mutant instinct. I appreciate the effort to want to be part of our world, but, by dyeing your hair, you only receive the direct, more obvious benefits of our people.

On the inside looking out

As a genetic oddity, redheads live in a weird “both worlds” state of being. On one hand, most of us are white, so we benefit from being in the majority in mostly white countries. We’re not on any “no fly” lists or anything. We don’t get pulled over just for driving while ginger (DWG). On the other hand, we’re different enough to have our own category of taunts and jokes. We occupy a weird spot in the Venn diagram of outsiders/insiders overlap.

It seems humans cannot resist the urge to categorize and separate each other based on similarities and differences. That would be okay with me if we did that and left it there. But we don’t leave it there. Based on that set of physical commonalities or contrasts, we lump ourselves into middle school kickball teams of us versus them. We pick people who look like us, walk like us and dress like us. That leaves many left to exist on the fringe--as less-preferred categories of humanity.

So, it’s nice to have the nod. Whether you have darker eyebrows (and are therefore able to get some form of a tan) or have lighter eyebrows (like me), we’re part of the same club. We aren’t superior to other humans because of it, but having red hair does make us awesome—like a band of magnificent, carrot-hued, human unicorns.


PRESS RELEASE: Hoosier Humor Columnist Receives Indiana Arts Commission Grant

PRESS RELEASE: Hoosier Humor Columnist Receives Indiana Arts Commission Grant

The invisible letter lurking at the end of the grocery store

The invisible letter lurking at the end of the grocery store