This is a lament about gray hair.

Not about having it.That's a matter of parentage, profession and poor protein.In most cases, those are three City Halls you can't fight.

But we grays (or two-tones) can surely hope to fight the insulting habits of all the darkharis in the world.

Here is our platform:

We are getting sick of people checking out our hair as if we were public monuments.

We are sick of them asking to touch it, as if we were bananas at the grocery.

We are sickest of all the boring things people find it necessary to say to us.

Every Grayhead has been through the latter. Typically, it'll arise with someone who hasn't seen you in a while.

His eyes meet yours, but then quickly wander upwards. He won't stare; that would be conspicuous. But he'll keep sneaking glances.

The he'll cough, remind you of how long you've been friends, and say . . .

"You don't look old. You look distinguished."

Or: "Just because there's snow on the roof doesn't mean there isn't fire in the furnace, right, old boy?"

Or: "Why don't you try some Grecian Formula? You'd look younger."

Or: "I bet cars don't have any trouble seeing you at night when you cross the street."

Give us a break, people.

Just because our shining strands are on display doesn't give you the right to fling banalities at us.

And the fact that we are no longer Darkheads doesn't give you the right to suggest we dive for the dye.

But it's not just friends who are trouble. Well-meaning comments from family members are nearly as grating.

One Grey Ghost I know has a mother who's pushing 70. Her chestnut locks would be whiter than her son's if she didn't dye them.

But what does she have the gall to tell her son?

"Dye your hair. You make your mother look old."

Grey Ghost's wife is no better. By way of making polite conversation, she'll ask strangers, bosses, whoever: "Isn't his gray hair beautiful?"

Meanwhile, how do his kids describe him to the usher if they become disconnected from each other at a movie?

They sure don't ask the usher if he's seen a guy in horn-rim glasses.

I say life for Grays is tough enough without all this.

Consider the trauma of renewing a driver's license.

In most states, the square for hair color is right beside the one for weight. Fine, great, go ahead and lie by 20 pounds. But must the state force us to write:"GR/BRN"? Isn't the photo penance enough?

Ditto for the fluorescent bulbs found so often in modern workplaces. Those rays seem to seek out and reveal every white hair on every head.

Not to mention barbers. I've never met one who could shear a gray head without trying to sell its owner some shampoo specially designed for the decrepit.

Even come-on lines are hopeless.

My mother, whose hair has been snowy for a long time, was accosted many years ago in a subway by a drunken Romeo.

"Your hair isn't grey," he slurredly assured her. "It's s-i-i-i-lver."

What she should have replied, and didn't, is what all Grayheads should remember, and often don't.

At least we've still got some.

A few weeks ago, this well-intentioned soul published a list of 18 assorted hot-line phone numbers around the Washington area.

Being all too well acquainted with Murphy's Law, I carefully called all 18 before I rushed them into print. They all checked. Or seemed to.

Now I discover that Murphy must have left his law firm and hired out as general counsel to the phone company. Five of the 18 numbers have either changed, or are about to.

The five, reprinted correctly today for no extra charge, are:

Sexual Assault Hot Line: 543-7273.

Suicide Prevention: 727-3622.

D.C. Government Food Stamp Hot Line: 724-4354

Rape Crisis Hot Line: 543-RAPE.

D.C. Government Child Abuse Hot Line: 576-6762.

Incidentally, the original hot line numbers appeared in connection with a yarn about a woman who hung up in the middle of the night on a troubled-sounding young woman -- and then felt guilty about it.

Perhaps the guilt was misplaced.

Marianne Smith, of Chevy Chase, was one of several readers who told of receiving similar middle-of-the-night calls recently. She, too, hung up.

But other readers said the voice turned the tables.

One particularly puzzled woman said that, as soon as her husband picked up an extension and asked in his male voice what was going on, the young caller hung up in a flash.

Could these calls be veiled ways of checking out homes to burglarize? Worth wondering . . .