My mother says I came into this world hairless and remained so for months.
When hair first sprouted on my head, choices had to be made. At first, they weren’t made by me. Dad cut my hair using a home barber kit with electronic clippers. He specialized in crew cuts that required no barbering skills. UJ and I sat in a chair, squirming and worried about our ears getting snagged by those buzzing clippers, and all hair was taken off a quarter-inch from the scalp.
This continued until I was about 13. It was the late ’60s, and suddenly I realized that no other boy in my grade had a crew cut. Obviously, this meant that crew cuts weren’t very cool, and the march up the slope of the haircut bell curve began. I first experimented with a bang cut that resembled that of Moe of the Three Stooges. It looked ridiculous, of course, but I was intoxicated by freedom from the high and tight.
My haircuts got progressively longer and eventually became “stylings.” By the time I graduated from high school, I had a kind of hair helmet look that covered my ears and hung over the collar. I reached the pinnacle of the haircut bell curve in college, when my hair was shoulder-length and constantly had to be pushed out of my eyes in front. It also looked silly, but every young guy — except Elvis Costello and the members of Devo — had long hair. In short, I had no choice.
After I graduated and started working, I moved onto the downward slope. At first my haircuts got shorter because I thought it looked more professional, then I realized that I looked a little less ridiculous with shorter hair. When my hair started to go gray, I decided I didn’t want the grizzled, kinky-hair-at-the-temples look, which meant even shorter hair was in order.
So, my haircut bell curve is coming full circle, and I’m progressively moving closer to the buzz cut from whence I started. I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get there — but if Dad somehow reappeared with those old clippers, I promise I’d sit still this time.