Picks and Pans Review: Cheatsheet

updated 08/22/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/2005 01:00AM

The Roots of Desire. Subtitled The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair, this book by (redhead) Marion Roach offers intriguing snippets.

•Scarlet tresses were long considered the mark of the devil; because the color was associated with menstruation, flame-haired women were seen as unclean and taboo.

•Believed to be lethal, fat taken from a redheaded man was used in concocting poisons during the seventeenth century.

•Though at least one scholar questions the brightness of her hue, Emily Dickinson was a redhead; Edna St. Vincent Millay had crimson tresses, too.

•Redheads require 20 percent more anesthesia to put them under than do blondes or brunettes.

•Less than 4 percent of the world's population has red hair; in Africa, non-Caucasian albino redheads who live in countries including Cameroon are subject not only to sunburn, but to ill treatment by superstitious neighbors.

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