When the Beatles showed up on Ed Sullivan, kids and teenagers all across this country went crazy. We were in love with a style of music that that caused young girls to swoon and scream like their heads were going to explode. And all my parents could talk about was their ridiculously long hair.
After Byron Coker closed up his shop in Hampton, Dad and I took our business to a Barber Shop out on a little county road just outside of downtown Sunny Side. They had suction hoses attached to the clippers, which was the most high tech thing we had ever seen.
Haircuts were simple. Buzz the sides. Leave enough on top to make a part and come over. A little Brill Cream made you smell like a medicine cabinet. A piece of Bazooka bubble-gum was the reward for sitting still.
I remember the first time I told Dad that I didn’t want a haircut. He thought I had lost my mind and took me anyway. Over time, I wore him down and my hair got over my ears.
“You’re starting to look like those stupid Beatles. You need a haircut,” he would say.
I protested. And thus began the battle over hair.
By 1971 my hair was on my shoulders. I had moved past the Beatles to Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Jethro Tull. That was also the year that high school got messy. Tensions were high. A few fights broke out at school. Somebody got cut. Parents were upset.
Dad saw an opportunity and sent me to Gordon Military College in Barnesville, GA for my sophomore year. A lot of kids from Henry County went to Gordon that year. Our parents said it was for our own good. It was a safer place to be. But, deep down, I knew it was about the hair.
A bunch of us long hair kids showed up on the first day of school. We were told to assemble by the flag pole out front of the main building. We knew nothing about military formations. Army Sergeants and upper classmen Cadets yelling at us goofy long hairs. Herding cats into straight lines.
The first order of business was haircuts. If you got tapped out, you got on the bus and took a ride downtown to the Barber Shop. Long hair piling up on the floor. I can still see the smirkish grin on the man in the white coat in the mirror.
“That’s a good looking haircut” was all my Dad could say at the supper table that night. Another bite of pork chop, and “Yes, sir. That’s a fine haircut.” For a time he had won.
We all went back to Henry County High the next fall. And for the next two years, I did not get a single haircut. A few trims, but no more buzz saws for me.
And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said “You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat, I said “Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!”…
It’s crazy how preoccupied we were with our hair. It wasn’t as if we had taken some kind of Samson-like vow. But slowly, over time, my ears began to show up again. The long locks faded into the past. It was never as short as Dad wanted it to be. I was in my 50s and Dad would still remind me from time to time that I needed a haircut.
What kills me these days is the ear hair. The forehead is receding, but the ears have sprouted. One day I woke up and looked in the mirror to see that a whisker forest was taking root. I remember sitting in a pew at church when I was a kid. The old guy in front of me leaned over to whisper something to his wife. He had a bush growing out of his ear. I wondered if a critter was living in there.
So, tweezers have become a regular part of my routine. Ear lobes. Upper edge of my ears. Growing right out of the ear hole. Where the heck has all this hair been for the last 60 years? Like dormant weed seed brought to the surface. Poof! I have hairy ears.
Then, there’s the chin whiskers. One of the old guy privileges is that I don’t shave so much anymore. Maybe twice a week. It’s not like I have a heavy beard anyways. I had a friend in Tennessee years ago who could shave twice a day and still look like he hadn’t shaved. He was cursed with hair. Every time I see the movie with Tim Allen who was turning into Santa, and as soon as he shaved the beard came back, I think of David in Tennessee.
And I cannot leave out the women folk. A woman will spend hours in front of the mirror because of hair. It’s not straight enough. The haircut is awful. The color is all wrong.
“I’ll just tie it up with an old rag. Might as well cut it all off.”
It’s all-out war on unwanted hair, too. Razors. Wax. Creams. Yanking strips of paper off the skin that leave marks like sandpaper. And you know this is true. The reason men are late to almost every event in life is that there is a woman in the bathroom with a pair of tweezers trying to attack just one more chin whisker.
Not that I’m talking about any particular woman. Really. No, I mean it.
So, I’m all grey these days. Some of us old geezers still have long grey pony tails hanging down from thinning noggins. Remnants of 1972. Not me. I’ll stay with what I’ve got. I’m not about to color it. I’ll wear it as a sign of wisdom, maybe. It helps me blend in with the crowd of old folks at the high school reunion.
Maybe we would all be better off if we were born with thick hair all over. Sasquatch and Chewbacca don’t seem to mind. I’ve seen a few bad cases of back hair at the beach that made me think of Sasquatch. I’ve seen leg hair pressed down underneath a pair of panty hose. We’ve all seen bad hair comb-overs on obviously bald heads. And, dare I mention armpit hair.
Just take what you’ve got. Cut it. Comb it. For goodness sakes wash it. Live with it. And hand me a pair of tweezers. I think I feel something sticking out of my left ear.