Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Give Me a Head With Hair

Skip at age 25

Hair: I’ve always had a thing about it. I like it long and natural, on men and women.
When I was a baby I had platinum curls, like a Botticelli angel. My mother was thrilled, and as I was first-born, my dad grudgingly let her have her wish to leave my hair alone.
By the time I was two my hair was quite long, and I had a sister a year younger. She was born larger than me, and she grew quicker, and more robust. It was not long before people were asking if we were twins.
This became too much for my old man. At age 2.5 he decreed I must have a haircut to look like a real boy. My mom cried copious tears, and saved some platinum locks in an envelope in my baby book.
At age 4, for some reason my dad decided I needed a “butch” haircut. We were living in Narrragansett, Rhode Island in the Dunes Club. At a Halloween costume party, my mom costumed me as Father Time and my 1-year-old brother Richard as the New Year baby. I weighed maybe 32 pounds, and with my shaved head, brown skin from a summer in the sun, and skinny body. I looked like a little Gandhi. We won first place.
When I was 7 my paternal grandfather played a mean trick on me. I was up to 45 lbs., but still wretchedly skinny. He took me to a barber shop in St. Cloud Fla. and said “Give him a G.I.”
I didn’t know what that was, but I found out soon enough. I felt humiliated with my almost bald head.
My dad started going bald in his early 20s, and he despised guys with long hair. I made it through elementary, junior and senior high without any more scalping, then it was off to college. It was the British Invasion era, and all the guys who were allowed were growing long hair. I was the lead singer in a band that had two guys in the National Guard and a third who at age 23 was already bald. They all bought wigs to become The Weeds. I tried a wig, but I looked too much like a girl. I decided to let my own hair grow.
There were strict appearance standards at the time at Florida Southern College, but I ducked under the radar, and transferred to Palm Beach Junior College for my sophomore year.
It was a trying, chaotic year to say the least, but I earned my A.A. When it came time to collect my diploma, the Dean of Men spotted me and said, “Are you a student here?” I said yes, and I was picking up my diploma before I went back to see my family in Columbus, Ohio.
“Oh no you’re not,” he said “Not before you get a haircut.”
Turns out the dean had a sweetheart deal with the barbershop across the street.
I paid my $5 and got a brutal prison shop hairdo. The dean smiled menacingly as he relinquished my diploma.
I returned to Florida Southern for my last two years, and continued to play music as my locks grew longer.
When it came graduation time, my mom beseeched me.
“Please get a haircut,” she pleaded. “Otherwise your father won’t come to your graduation.”
Frankly I didn’t care, but I did it for mom, and I looked like a 16-year-old boy. I vowed at that time I would never again have a short haircut, as long as I had enough hair on my head not to appear foolish.
I broke that promise twice: at my first marriage at age 23 and my second at age 28.
Now I am 64- the same age my mother’s father when he died (with a full head of hair)- and sadly, I am divorced. I have not had a “store bought” haircut in 3 years. My daughter Laura does the honors. I don’t have the luxuriant “Acrylan carpet” of curly hair I once had, but there is something still up there. So with my Native American brothers, I will continue to go natural as long as nature smiles on me. Hair, it’s a beautiful thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment