Back in the long-hair days of the early 1970s, when the revolution of the previous decade became normalized by Southern rock, the Carter administration, and a slow drift rightward, I had a recurring fear. I’d grow my hair long, like everyone I knew. When it’d start to reach my shoulders, I’d sweep it back in a ponytail. It would start to grow matted and, long before rasta dreds became okay for hacky-sack bopping preppies, I’d get the fear of god in me … and cut it all off.
One time, circa 1973, I was asked if I wanted an Aladdin Sane cut. Not knowing David Bowie’s look at the time, and only his name and a few songs I’d heard of his on the radio, I acquiesced. My son recently found a photo of me at that age and burst out laughing.
Several months into quarantine, I consider the rattiness of my “do.” I should have entered that old man’s barber shop on a back street in Genoa when Milo and I weighed a trim, but we decided to just keep walking.
Whatever happens, dad, don’t you dare get a mullet, he said to me yesterday. Oh, heavens, I responded, I’d do a hairbun-version-of-a-ponytail before that. He rolled his eyes.
I was living deep in the mountains at the time. I could be whoever I wanted to be. I did a writing exercise in my class of elementary-school journalists, asking them to describe someone around you so we can guess who it was. Two-thirds of the responses were about an overweight, aging guy pretending he wasn’t going bald by bunching what straggled hair he had left into a bunch. I had friends chop what I’d considered my mane the next day.
Those were the days when I’d have friends cut my hair. After my wife refused to take up that skill, I got into old-style barber shops. The result would be old-man haircuts that I’d let grow out for several months.
I may have to try to take this situation into my own hands now, given that barber shops may not always get the highest marks in our state’s reopening plans. That place I’d heard about in Kingston has gotten more attention than I’d like for a shearing.
But what about Milo, who’s worrying that his bangs are clouding his vision? Guess we’ll wait a few weeks before facing the mirror with scissors in hand.