“Some really despair of my hair. But I don’t care.”

Hairy High School Yes, that's my 1957 Cadillac.

Hairy High School Yes, that’s my 1957 Cadillac.

I guess I’ve long been a calculated closet-rebel, engaged in understated subterfuge. A calculated rebel in that I was somewhat subdued in how I expressed my rebellion, choosing more sneaky methods as a teenager (and even now), often more internal than the then-popular sit-ins and other forms of civil disobedience. Sometimes only I knew I was rebelling. Sometimes that was enough. My own little refusal to buy in to the family-school-church-society status quo.

I was like a lot of teenagers I guess. Early on, one of my favorite tools of statement-making was my appearance, specifically, my hair. I discovered that keeping my hair long bugged the heck out of everybody I wanted to bug the heck out of. Perfect! So I let it go. And grow. To lengths and fuzziness suitable for the Monkees, the Brady Bunch, and beyond. All the way up until the United States Marine Corps took away my treasured locks, with electric-clipper facilitated military malice.

High school junior.

High school junior.

The high school arteest. Senior year.

The high school arteest. Senior year.

Sheared me like a sheep, they did, and enjoyed doing it. Even made me pay them money for it.  “Put a finger on anything you don’t want me to cut off, maggot!” said the USMC barber as he chopped off many years’ worth. Took less than a minute. As I saw the pile on the floor, I thought of how hairy-ness had served me well. I said good-bye to my hair that day and faced the shiny domed truth of my speedily receding hairline, now clearly revealed for the first time. I carried an unnecessary comb for years as sort of a pocket-tribute to days clipped away. I never had longer hair again. Until now.

Hair. On my head. Where have you been, oh hair? I have missed you, my mane, my crown, my renewed burr under the saddle of many. It started innocently enough…not a speck of calculated rebellion. I began to let my hair and sideburns grow for my recent theater role as Rev. William Miller from the 1840’s. I didn’t expect to have my new doo transport me all the way back to age 17. The play has been over several weeks now and I haven’t been near a barber. Tossed my half-off man-cut coupons.  I’m having way too much fun. I admit I still do a double take when I look in the mirror…is that me?

some hair is rare

some hair is rare

Today’s head full is quite different than the curly, light-to-medium brown shoulder-length version of 40 years ago, I admit.  It’s white and two-tone gray with a hint of original brown… made up of a couple of different textures. A peach-fuzzy very-fine kind of hair, along with some wire-like vibrissa, and a few strands that appear to be somewhat normal. And it’s all mostly straight! I would have paid money for that straightness in high school. I labored long every night back then, with my state-of-the-art hot comb, to get my hair over my ears, not flaring out like some kind of Bozo-esque ear umbrella.  Then there’s that pesky near-empty spot up top, with sort of a sparse semi-covering, some halfhearted head camo, begging for the Hair Club For Men special sod or at least a little Rogaine ramp-up (Costco has it in bulk…I’m checking it out). I hate baldness. I long for a cure while there’s still time.

I confess I do like the look I’ve got going. And I love watching the reaction of people. Mostly, it amazes me that the “filamentous biomaterial that grows from follicles in the dermis”…my hair…causes any kind of itchy finger on another person’s inner hair trigger. It’s not even very long. Yet. Well, I guess it is compared to my normal #2 comb close-cropped coiffure.  Still. Some say they like it. I’ve gotten compliments. Others actually stammer around, staring at it, then letting fly a “You are gray!” or “You’re hairy!” or “You’re a hippy now?!?!” or “Isn’t the play over?” or “Thought you were a Marine!” or “You look like a Seventh Day Adventist!” The last one I understood…a nod to my role as William Miller, an Adventist with an 1840’s hair style. My favorite answer to all of them is that I’m growing it to donate to the charitable “Locks for Love” organization. What? I say it with a straight enough face.

hair4Yet what is it about this new thatch mat on my head that causes people to stop, stare, comment, and generally wonder what in the world I think I’m doing? How dare I let my hair get a little wild and free! How could I do something so blatantly outside the norm? What wanton disregard I display for others’ expectations of how I should look! Why does my hair so effectively get in others’ hair and cause them to split hairs? Sorry…couldn’t resist the pate pun. Oh boy, my calculated rebellion has awakened! More hair! I need more hair! It’s like a gray fountain of youth, a mop-induced mental jumpstart, and an irresistible double hair-of-the-dog dare of hilarity.

So, all I have to do bugs1to cause a stir in my world is avoid Sport Clips? All too easy. Hmmm. What else (besides letting my hair down, as it were) can I do to liven things up? A pony tail is a given. Maybe a tattoo? Earring? Having fun now.  May be worth being drummed out of the Marine Corps League. In the immortal words of one of my mentors, Bugs Bunny, “Ain’t I a stinker?” Some days I really like being me.

Got to go now…have to hit the store for my fresh tub of Bed Head goop and some CVS Manly-Man Extra-Hold Hair Spray. And I need a new hair brush. Before I go, though, I want you to promise me that if I ever resort to a comb-over, just shoot me or at least hold me down and give me a USMC high-and-tight. I do have some standards.

Now, I must share a poem written by that literary giant, George Carlin, from his Pre-Vulgar period. Also, the lyrics to a perfect song for today, written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. These words so perfectly express the hair ball of my heart. First George, then James and Gerome, please.

Hair, by George Carlin

I’m aware some stare at my hair.
In fact, to be fair,
Some really despair of my hair.
But I don’t care,
’Cause they’re not aware,
Nor are they debonair.
In fact, they’re just square.

They see hair down to there,
Say, “Beware” and go off on a tear!
I say, “No fair!”
A head that’s bare is really nowhere.
So be like a bear, be fair with your hair!
Show it you care.
Wear it to there.
Or to there.
Or to there, if you dare!

My wife bought some hair at a fair, to use as a spare.
Did I care?
Au contraire!
Spare hair is fair!
In fact, hair can be rare.
Fred Astaire got no hair,
Nor does a chair,
Nor a chocolate éclair,
And where is the hair on a pear?
Nowhere, mon frère!

So now that I’ve shared this affair of the hair,
I’m going to repair to my lair and use Nair, do you care?

Hair, by James Rago and Gerome Ragni

She asks me why….why I’m a hairy guy. I’m hairy noon and nighty-night night. My hair is a fright. I’m hairy high and low. Don’t ask me why (cause he don’t know). It’s not for lack of bread like the Grateful Dead. Darling, gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen. Give me down to there, hair! Shoulder length or longer. Here baby, there mama, everywhere daddy, daddy. Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair.

Flow it, show it. Long as God can grow it, my hair.

Let it fly in the breeze, and get caught in the trees, give a home to the fleas in my hair.
A home for fleas, a hive for the buzzin’ bees. A nest for birds. There ain’t no words. For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my…Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair.

Flow it, show it. Long as God can grow it, my hair.

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy. Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty. Oily, greasy, fleecy. Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen. Knotted, polka-dotted. Twisted, beaded, braided. Powdered, flowered, and confettied. Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Oh say can you see, my eyes– if you can then my hair’s too short. Down to here, down to there, down to where you never have to cut it…it stops by itself. …Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair.

Flow it, show it. Long as God can grow it, my hair.

So, as I bid you good-bye for now, as my grandfather used to say, “Hey you with the hair on your head! Not you, baldy.”

6 thoughts on ““Some really despair of my hair. But I don’t care.”

  1. Dave Hickey comments on his hair at 1:05:

    Also, I recommend to your readers that they take a moment to actually listen along to Gerome Ragni’s “hair” – the mood of indulgent rebellion really comes to full bloom that way.


  2. UPDATE: Last Saturday, we had the chance to seek a hair expert’s professional opinion. While in Canada celebrating Father’s Day at a big Ribfest, we met and consulted daughter Valerie’s hairdresser. This young lady carefully examined my hair, now very wild and free after two trips on the Zero Gravity ride with the kiddos, and definitively pronounced it “Groovy!” She told me not to change a thing…to let it go! She added a couple more “Groovy!” comments. Noted!


  3. Dave Hickey’s comments…”Sorry about my hair. I’m trying to make some decisions about it. I’m sort of stuck between retired roadie and Albert Einstein.” I’m in the same club as Dave Hickey! Amen, brother!


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