Hair!

Give me a head with hair…

No, this is not a tearful plea from the follicly challenged… it is the title song from the 60’s musical and a defining symbol of (male) youth culture in that decade.

Yes, a substantial head of hair set our generation apart from the crew cuts and brush cuts of the 1950’s.  This furry revolutionary charge was led, if not initiated, by the musical heroes of the era.

An early 60’s version of Elvis hair…
Fast forward to the end of the decade…
It may not seem long now… but this hair was far removed from the hair styles I saw in the 50’s.
And it only got longer as the decade progressed…

So… it was inevitable that, as these images were communicated in the newspaper and on television, on album covers, in concerts and in on the heads of classroom contemporaries, I became convinced of the desirability- indeed the NEED to let my hair grow.  All you have to do is look back to my grade seven class photo (taken circa 1965) in my recent September post to establish the variance between the hairy ideal and my trimmed reality.  As I entered high school and being “in” became an integral part of adolesence, I became more strident in my call for leniency in the severity of my haircut.

There were two factors which did not serve me well in this endeavour.  First, my parents (who did not bear me until they were 40ish) were of a decidedly more conservative mindset when it came to the vagaries of fashion (and other things).  Second, our local barber was a relative (cousin).  I could try to account for my reticence by recalling having my ear nicked by the barber when I was a young child.  The fact is, I just wanted longer hair.  And the difference of opinion between parents and child only grew with the passage of time.

It was perhaps inevitable that this conflict should reach its crisis shortly after I began dating Jane.  It was the ol’ carrot and stick approach by my parents which precipitated the crisis.  I had only recently begun having the use of the family car for dating purposes.  I was informed that, if I wished “wheels” for my upcoming outing with her, I would previously need to be shorn (I always had some sympathy for Samson and sheep).  The sop (or carrot) thrown to me was the news that my barber cousin had recently taken a “hairstyling” course which would render his cuts more fashion-sensitive.

I’m sure you can anticipate what happened next.  I went into the barber cautiously optimistic and, as I watched increasing amounts of hair falling to the floor, grew increasing pessimistic about the result.  I came home in a (typically adolescent) sour frame of mind and went immediately to the bathroom mirror to examine closely this recent cut.  To my mind (and eye) the cut was no different from the pre-style period (mayhap worse) and, as I stared at the face in the mirror, I became increasingly angry.  And (you ask) how do you vent this rising fury?  Well, (in my case) you punch the wall beside the mirror.

Now had I been knowledgeable at the time about framing and drywall I would probably have landed my punch in a location which would have bruised my hand but spared the wall.   As it was I now regarded a large fist-sized hole adjacent to the bathroom mirror.  There seemed little hope that my expression of frustration would go unnoticed, so I confessed my transgression to my mother and awaited the consequence.  Oddly, as I remember it, her response was uncharacteristically subdued (my father less so) but… the next time I entered the bathroom a framed picture slightly larger than a fist had been affixed to the wall over the unwelcome aperture.

On the wall was a painting of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (just prior to his arrest)… a scene awaiting me every time I looked in the mirror for the next several years.

What followed was an uneasy truce on the subject of hair length.  It was neither as long as I would have wished but it was not as short as my parents might have chosen either.  It really wasn’t until after I was married and had a teaching job that I really “let my hair down” (and added a beard for good measure).

Our eldest son examines hair at its optimal length…

A footnote which comes full circle…

On occasion in one’s life, thoughts turn to mortality, longevity and such.  For reasons poetic and mathematical I always postulated that a life of 360 years seemed appropriate.  Poetic because the circle represents (among other things) completion, eternity, wholeness and oneness.  Mathematical because a circle is comprised of 360 degrees.

You may wonder why I mention this in the context of a treatise on hair.  The answer (of course) is that, with a span of 360 years, one should not be concerned with thinning hair until at least year 300.  And yet…

Nonetheless I still think that this concept (the 360-year life span, not the thinning hair) is a sound one and so I’ll stick with it (at least for the next century or two)…

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