Comedian George Carlin (a modern prophet if there ever was one, may he rest in peace) used to perform a quaint little poem onstage about his hair. The words of this, thanks to the availability of Google, not my memory, are as follows:
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 devonaire.
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?
Spare hair is fair!
In fact, hair can be rare.
Fred Astair got no hair,
Nor does a chair,
Nor nor a chocolate eclair,
And where is the hair on a pear?
Nowhere, mon frere!
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?
You know, seeing it in print after all these years (I firest heard it in the early 1980’s when a novelty DJ calling himself Dr. Demento used to play it on his syndicated radio show. I’m not sure when Carlin originally recorded it – that’s more Google digging than I care to do right now), without Carlin’s trademark cadenced delivery, it doesn’t seem quite as funny as I remember. Go find Carlin’s recording of it. The rest of us will wait and you’ll thank me later.
Back already? That was quick. Funny stuff, huh? Told ya.
The reason I’m on this tear about hair (wow… it’s rubbing off) is that I got thinking about hair recently. More to the point, I got thinking about my hair and the ways I’ve chosen to wear it over the years. When Carlin wrote this poem, he was considered something of a hippy. What’s the one thing we know about hippies? Yes, they smoked a lot of pot. What’s the other thing? They all had long hair. The long hair was such a badge identifying American counterculture in the ’60’s and ’70’s in fact, that Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote a hit Broadway musical entitled simply Hair (ignore the 1979 film version with Treat Williams if you know what’s good for you) and everyone knew what it was about without even having to see it.
So the hippies had long hair. What’s that got to do with me, since I wasn’t even born until 1968? I just got here right when the whole hippy thing was in full swing, and wasn’t even really self-aware until it was all but done. By the time I learned what a hippy was, I was still more concerned with what Oscar the Grouch was going to say to Big Bird that day than at what length I should be wearing my hair.
I did try to pull off the long hair thing at one time in my life. This started when I was in my early teens and I’d discovered bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. I grew my hair long in a statement of rebellion, I suppose. Of course, it was a pretty bad move for a couple of reasons. First of all I look like shit when my hair is long. And, secondly, even though I’d missed the whole hippy thing by a few years, my mother was there for it and had more or less been a part of it. Mom grew up in the ’50’s and ’60’s. She graduated high school in 1964, the same year The Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show and launched the British invasion. I remember watching that old footage and hearing mom talk about how the length of the Fab Four’s hair was both shocking and unacceptable to most people at the time and thinking “but their hair wasn’t all that long.” And compared to the way they looked by, say, Let it Be, it was pretty short. To an America just waking up from the buzz-cuts and flattops of the Leave it to Beaver 1950’s, however, they looked like cave men. So long hair might annoy mom a little, but it was not the way to piss her off. I wouldn’t figure that one out until a few years later.
I may have discovered Sabbath and Zep a little after their time, but I was right there and ready for bands like Crass, T.S.O.L., 45 Grave, and the Plasmatics. As a kid who grew up in the 1980’s it was easy to take the little snippets that popular radio offered (bands like Devo and one-hit wonders like Toto Cuelo) and follow the trail from New Wave and all its hot pink and purple cuteness to the world of full-on hardcore punk rock. When I took my head of long hair and dyed it
Peter Murphy and Daniel Asche black (it was all punk in those days, those of us listening to old Sex Pistols records were the same ones listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees – we didn’t have a word for “goth” back then), then shaved the right side of my head completely bald, mom noticed. And she was none too happy about it. Score!
I kept up my hair antics like that into my early twenties, but we all have to grow up sometime. Through my adulthood I’ve worn my hair at various lengths, but now prefer to wear it very short or buzzed completely most of the time. In fact I often sport the shaved head/mustache and goatee look – but still don’t really look anything like Stone Cold Steve Austin. Its probably because he’s got muscles in places where I don’t have places and I have a beer belly, but I prefer to think I’m just more selective about the type of physique I choose. Anyone can pull off the musclebound wrestler thing. It’s been done to death. I’m more at home with the chubby middle-aged American look. It suits me.
Anyway, back to my hair… I’d got to thinking about the rebellious hairstyles of my youth and realized that if my kids want to make a statement with their hair, they’re fucked. Hairstyle rebellion just doesn’t work anymore. We’ve seen it all. If my youngest came in tomorrow with hair all the way down past his asshole, I may ask him if he wipes with it, but I won’t be shocked. Likewise if he cuts it in odd shapes and colors it in funny colors. Hell, he could walk in with a Bieber-do and I wouldn’t blink an eye. In fact, good for him if he does. That Bieber kid may be a douchebag, but I bet he gets the chicks.
The old WordPress word counter tells me I’m nearing the 1200 word mark at this point, so I’ll relate just one more anecdote and be on my way. I recently decided to shave off the mustache and goatee that I’d been sporting so often, for no other reason than I felt like a change. A day or so later during lunch at work, a lovely young (she’s about 30… is that young? I don’t know… younger than me anyway) female coworker noticed and said “Did you shave?” I told her I had. “You look… better,” she said with an awkward grin. I can only assume she thought I looked like crap before. I think I’ll keep it this way for a bit.