I’m so vain / I bet I think this post is about me…
No — seriously. Let’s make this all about me for a moment. Let’s talk about my hair.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my hair for a long time — but most swaying on the “love” side. As far back as I can remember, people would compare my wavy, dark hair to that of my mom. While my brother’s hair was always straight, mine simply wasn’t. Which would always seem to bug me because it was so difficult for me to get every single piece where it was supposed to go.
It was, however, much straighter back then. For instance, take this picture:
In this case, it was short enough that it didn’t matter. Besides, nobody was focusing on my hair because they were too busy being fixated on my groovy Sears Toughskins* brand slacks.
But life went on and I got older. I wanted to wear my hair slightly longer. Which is where the waviness set in. But sometime around when I was 12, my hair seemed to change almost overnight. First of all, the brown color seemed to disappear altogether, leaving me with hair that appeared jet black. And I noticed that my hair was somehow transposing from wavy to just plain curly! It was 1984. I was 12. And people started asking me if I had gotten a perm. Which really, really boosted my morale as a pubescent boy whose body was already doing weird enough things that made me defensive enough about my sexual identity.
I decided I wanted my hair long. Like — David Coverdale from Whitesnake long! But also David Coverdale from Whitesnake blond, and I knew my parents simply weren’t going to let that happen. But they did let me grow out my hair a bit — as long as it looked neat enough to remain presentable. That was perfectly fine by me. Especially since I really only wanted it long in the back anyway! (I probably didn’t look too closely at the Whitesnake publicity photos.)
It was the late 80s. And although it had not yet been as affectionately named, I was going for the mullet.
That’s what I did all the way through high school. Shorter on the sides, party in the back. I was gong for the Dennis Miller of SNL’s Weekend Update look. And I did pretty well with it.
College was my next milestone. The summer after my freshman year I decided to lop off the back and try keeping the front long — with the sides extra-short. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision I made as I had a job on campus over the summer which entailed walking around campus giving tours in sweltering heat. It wasn’t so difficult for me to decide what to do hair-wise — I went to the same woman who did the hair of the other guys in the summer orientation office.
(This was my headshot for my regular column in the independent college student newspaper I used to write for. It’s an actual image file from one of the first instances when I ever used a scanner! This was still the early 90s when scanners were cool.)
Since then I’ve experimented with different hair lengths quite a bit. 1996 was the year of Hurricane Fran which swept through my North Carolina neighborhood, knocking out power to my home for quite a while. Since the bathrooms at my home had no outside-facing windows, it was the perfect excuse not to shave for a bit. I had experimented with the mid-90s goatee before, but this time I had license to march through the awkward whiskers stage and produce real facial hair. More often than not for the past 12 years I’ve gone with some combination of facial hair.
Here’s a random picture of me from 2006 when I was growing my beard out quite a bit:
… and here’s how I looked after I shaved. But not completely:
See why I usually go for the facial hair nowadays? I feel like there’s too much of a Jon Lovitz resemblance otherwise…
Last week I passed a pretty interesting milestone — one year without a haircut. I decided last November that I would, at age 36, grow my hair out for Locks of Love, an organization which accepts hair donations in order to manufacture wigs primarily for children and young adults who are undergoing medical treatments which result in hair loss. One needs to donate a minimum of ten inches of hair for the organization to accept it. I’m getting pretty close to the minimum — hopefully I’ll reach it by November.
Here are two pictures I took this past weekend:
Here’s how I see it: I’m still at the tail end of that window where the vast majority of my hair is still brown and still covering much of my head. I’ve already started to get the receding hairline just a bit, and I wanted to get with the Locks of Love program before my hair started to do the 80s incarnation of Phil Collins. My beard has started to get its own patches of gray; I’m sure my hair isn’t so far behind. And I have a feeling that 8-year old kids going through chemo don’t want to look like David Crosby this early in the game.
Say — if I get just the right about of gray in the beard and I shape it into a goatee — I could probably be “The Dude” (from The Big Lebowski) for Halloween, couldn’t I?
Or maybe I’m stretching the whole long-hair thing a smidge…
* The next logical question after the appearance of the word “Toughskins” is usually “Did you wear the normal sizes or the Husky sizes?” I wore normal, but I probably could cross-over into the Husky sizes if my mom wanted to compare my weight to that of an Alaskan hunting dog.