In today’s entry, I will not be talking about politics and will mention the pandemic only tangentially. It is hard to pry my mind away from the time-lapse blossoming of the evil simulation in which I (certainly) and all of us (arguably, but not empirically provably) are entrapped, but it is therapeutic to stop and remind oneself that other important things continue to happen in the world. And so:
AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT OF A THING YOU NEED TO KNOW!
My hair is, at this point, the longest it has been since 1979. There are some differences, most noticeably the streaks of gray which shoot exuberantly like cresting seafoam amongst spectacular waves of black. I had one grandfather whose hair was entirely snow white for the duration of the time I knew him, his final eight years or so. The other grandfather, who remained on the physical plain until I was in my early twenties, also had gray streaks running like wood grain in the slicked back, pomaded skullcap he favored. He claimed it was natural and that he never “Stooped to Grecian”, but he was a notorious and fierce liar, so I can’t vouch for him on this, or anything. He was unvouchable. I do not know which if either of them I will end up taking after, but neither of them balded much at all. My Maternal grandmother did a bit, and it’s quite sexist that I have never until this moment wondered if I might take after her or my other grandmother (who absolutely dyed her hair), but while my locks are not as gloriously and confoundingly thick as they once were, they are still admirably dense.
So that was a great number of words on the topic of my hair and it may surprise you to know I am not even close to done, unless you know me well, in which case you have likely stopped reading by now.
MORE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MY CURRENT VERY LONG HAIR AND THE EVEN LONGER HAIR OF MY SEVENTEENTH YEAR.
It’s a bit crispier, finer, and if I do not wash it every single day it goes as mad as a patch of dry, yellow grass at the very beginning of autumn after not getting mowed even once all summer. On the other hand, it grows more evenly. My hair, not my lawn. Attend: When I was a young teen, I suffered from a condition I have not beheld in any other. The hair on the right side of my head grew more quickly, attained significantly greater lengths than the hair on the left side of my head, and grew out, not down. In one of the few photographs surviving from that time period (A HIGH SCHOOL ID!), the hair on the right side of my head stands out proudly almost a foot from my rather large, square noggin. I do not recall whether I thought it looked good, but I certainly do not remember ever looking in a mirror and thinking “My GOD, man, what are you at?! That is the hairstyle of a BUFFOON!”
I was known for fairly long hair throughout my childhood and teen years. I had an ancient, extremely hard of hearing dentist who was convinced my name was short for “Maxine” and eventually I gave up on trying to convince him otherwise. As I type this, it occurs to me for the very first time that it’s possible he was mocking me. He was married to his hygienist, an equally ancient lady named Pauline who was so tiny she had to stand on a high stool to get her hands into my mouth. His hands shook, and were covered in fine, white hairs, a thing I know because dentists in that far gone era did not wear gloves. My father insisted the man was an escaped Nazi war criminal practicing under and assumed name. It would be years before I ever saw Olivier in “Marathon Man” and got the joke, but that was not the sort of thing my father cared about.
When I was about eleven, I recall my mother opining with a knowing smile that she knew why I wore my hair long. She said I did it to hide my scars. I believe I have written before that at six I was mauled during an incident in which I attempted to teach a Golden Retriever to ballroom dance. My scars have faded to near insibilty, but they were far more visible then. She was wrong about that having anything to do with my hair style. I rarely if ever thought about my scars, I do not recall anyone ever bullying or mocking me about them as they were not that impressive. I was, however, mercilessly and regularly ridiculed about my luxuriant, girlish coif. I nodded sagely at my mother’s theory as if to say “How wise of you to have plumbed my psyche.” My mother was a long-game master strategist, and In my experience, if you didn’t humor her in matters like this, things got worse. Slowly, insidiously, unpredictably, like a loose tiger that has hidden the fact it is completely insane for decades.
So why did I wear my hair so long? I’d like to say “It was the 70’s” and be done with it, but North Andover Massachusetts was a pretty short haired place, at least amongst my cohort, when I first started to let my freak flag fly. By my senior year of High School it was a different story, but I muddled through a lot of years as the only Beatle in a sea of Everly Brothers.
SIDEBAR: I Google image searched the Everly Brothers to see if that sentence worked, and mostly it did, but toward the end of their career they sported longish hair. Not John Lennon long, more like late stage, post perm Brady boy long. In any case, you get what I meant, unless you are younger enough than I to have no idea who the Everly brothers were, and so when you Google image search them (Because that is how SERIOUSLY YOU TAKE MY WRITING) you see pictures of them with longish hair. I’m awfully glad I took the time to write this paragraph, I think it makes this entry a lot like hanging out with me. Are you still reading? Why? SIDEBAR ENDS.
I rather like my current long hair, but only for a few hours after I wash it. Sooner than I’d like it begins to go it’s own way, and curl around and poke me in the eyes. I don’t recall it doing that back when I was a skinny, wayward, deeply introverted lad. In those days it minded.
Back then life seemed entirely out of my control and maybe if I wore my hair absurdly long and later grew a pair of mutton chops the size of… well, mutton chops, I suppose, though that’s a food stuff I have never dealt with and I refuse to call them pork chops, no one would wear those; Well, stupid as it might have been, that look was my choice, mine to make. And making that choice I imagined that getting older would mean more and more choices, more and more control, and now instead here I am. I am legally allowed to see a barber, but it seems like a bad idea, and my Mother-in-law, who has cut my hair for years, should not be asked to stand that close to me for that long a time, just in case, right?
So I suppose my current long hair is just about as ironic as my hair in 1979, although I’m almost certain I’m using that word incorrectly. You know what I mean, just like you did with that whole Beatles/Everly Brothers dichotomy, even if you’ve no idea who they were or the precise and actual meaning of the word “Ironic” instead of a general sense of it.
Let’s just be happy we all know concretely and can agree on who the Beatles were. Let’s acknowledge we have at least that much solid ground to stand on. And who knows, in a month or two when my hair is longer than it’s ever been in my entire life, maybe it’s weight will hold it more in place, or maybe I’ll learn skills of hair care and hair craft hitherto unknown to me and bring the whole lanky, wavy, crispy Hebrew mass to heel, or down to my heels if all of this goes on long enough.
Or maybe… I’ll just shave the whole mop off and see what I look like bald. At no point in my life was I ever hairless, not even at birth. Maybe that would represent the control that until now has eluded me.
But if I did that, it’s quite likely folks would just point at me and say “Hey. That dude’s jawline is a good four inches wider than the crown of his head. That is a very unfortunately triangle headed dude. I would not have recommended a shaved head for that dude. He should probably grow his hair as long as he can. Give that triangle head some cover.”
Or maybe… just maybe… and hear me out on this… we stand at the dawn of the triangle headed man.