We need a little levity this week, gentle reader, as we are no doubt all so exhausted by the election and its armchair quarterback aftermath. It would be good to talk about something comparatively unimportant for a change. We can think about, and leave comments about, something that really has nothing to do with who did what to whom and whose fault it is.
And so, I’d like to talk to you today about hair.
I’m now at the age where many of my male contemporaries are losing their hair. Some of my friends started losing theirs awhile ago, at the end of college or graduate school. They simply shaved their heads entirely, or just cropped everything very close so that the hair or lack of it was no longer a distraction. This is the right thing to do, of course, rather than attempt the dreaded comb-over plastering job.
However in my case, at least for the moment I am still the owner of a rather fast-growing, extremely wavy mane of hair, which needs to be mowed every 3-4 weeks. It is so impenetrable without product in it that I cannot comb it when dry, and even when wet the comb tends to gets snarled if I let it grow too long. Such is the case at present, since I grew my hair out for Halloween over the past eight weeks, and I am having to hook the longer parts behind my ears to keep them from falling into my face or curling up into a sheepskin: there are unruly, long waves and curls popping out all over the place.
I have been told countless times by barbers over the years, struggling to cut through the entangled brush that forms the top of my head if I let it grow too long, that there’s little or no possibility of my ever going bald. If when I was younger, I desperately wished to have straight hair that was easy to manage, now I am glad that nature instead decided to make me something of a ram. In the summertime having this kind of hair is torture; I have to try to keep it as short as I can, because it is so uncomfortably hot if I let it get too long.
Yet having such a mop in wintertime is not so bad, because then you have this natural pelt sprouting out of the top of your head, which helps to keep the heat in. I have several friends who must wear hats in winter, because they have no other option to stay warm, whereas I generally have to opt for earmuffs in all but the most brutal weather. If I do not, then when the hat is removed there is a static, “Eraserhead” sort of effect.
I have gone through many hairstyles thus far in my life, ever since my parents allowed me to start making choices for myself in this area, probably around 7th grade. I’ve had the tall quiff-pompadour, with the short back and sides and longer waves piled on top. I’ve had the very closely-cropped military officer style, so short you could barely comb it. I’ve even had chin-length poet hair, all one length, looking like I should be drinking absinthe and reading Shelley in some bar on the Left Bank.
I’ve had the floppy English-preppy style, like something out of an episode of “Poirot” or “Brideshead”, short all around but so long on top so that the strands tend to fall into your eyes. I’ve done the choppy, messy “bedhead”; the Clark Kent side-part; the Gordon Gecko slick-back. At one point, I even had waves on top and shaved the back and sides completely bald, trying to emulate Bernard Sumner of the English alternative-new wave 80’s band, “New Order”.
Generally speaking, your average man does not have many options for variety in his appearance. Men are, for very good reason, a bit more limited in our style vocabulary than are the ladies. Apart from our hair, generally the only place where one might in theory express a bit of personality or difference from “samey-ness” is in one’s choice of necktie or socks. And even that is considered too risky in some quarters.
I am not sure what my regular barber will say tomorrow, when I turn up for my appointment and he is confronted with two months’ worth of growth. Back when I was a college student, his father cut my hair, and their shop will be celebrating its first century this year, so I suspect he won’t turn a hair – so to speak. Fortunately, at least for now, I am still in a position to take my barber’s suggestion with what to do with this tangled shrubbery atop my head, and I will enjoy having that option for as long as genetics and nature allow.