When I was a kid every other Saturday my old man would drag me out of bed and take me to the barbershop where I would get what was known as the “Ivy League Cut”: short back and sides with just enough left on top to come back with a little help from Wild Root Cream Oil.
In February 1964 on a Sunday night I, like millions of other young boys, saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. The next time my old man tried to take me to the barbershop I balked. My hair would become a point of heated battle between my old man and me until the day he died. He was in his fifties when I was born and was not prepared for the 1960’s in anyway shape or form. When he died in 1970, apparently one of the last things he said to my mother was about me and “that goddamned hair.” I always swore to myself that no matter what, when I had kids I would never hassle them about their hair. I was going to be the “cool dad.”
Needless to say, I never saw it coming when my oldest son showed up one day with his head shaved. How could this be? After all I had been through with my father, it was like a woman giving up her high paying executive job to be a housewife. I asked him “What were you thinking?” He said he liked the way it looked, it was easy to take care of, and lots of guys were wearing their hair short. My own hair was still long-ish, tied back in a graying ponytail. I could not, for the life of me, believe that any self respecting young dude would chop off his own hair unless he was in the service or on his way to court.
My second son was more like me: long, flowing hair, beard a couple of tattoos. Then he shows up with a hunk of metal stuck through his lower lip. I get the hair, the tats, and the beard, but facial piercings? Has the whole world gone insane? But, staying true to my word, I bite my lip and be the “no hassle dad.”
Son number three enters middle school, grows his hair out, and everyone compliments me on how beautiful and straight it is. But then he decided to put pink streaks in it. Listening closely I could here this whirring sound; it was my old man spinning like a top in his grave. Soon enough though the kid got tired of the vibrant stripes on his head and took a cue from his big brother, he took a pair of clippers and buzzed his head and has kept his hair at about a quarter of an inch long ever since.
My daughter on the other hand has beautiful, long hair. I’m just not sure what color it is anymore. I keep telling her that it’s going to fall out if she keeps screwing with it like she does, but what do I know? I’m a guy who has no need to keep up with fashion.
My youngest who is just entering his teens is the only one who so far has kept his wits about him. He wears his hair long but not so long that anyone would ever ask, “How old is she?” He looks better with his hair long then he does short but that’s just my opinion. His older siblings and his mother are always bugging me to get his hair cut, but I leave it up to him. I’m sticking to my guns; if he wants to grow his hair down to his ass I’m not going to stop him, I just wish he’d wash it a little more.
Photo credit: Flickr / Jaako