In my life I’ve had maybe five hairstyles. When I was a tyke my father bought some electric hair clippers, but the only style he ever learned was a buzz cut, which was what I had until about first grade (and for a short, traumatic time in 8th grade).
In first grade I made a stylish leap forward — a “regular boy” cut, parted on the left with a slap of Brylcream to make a debonair wave back from my forehead. Eventually I ditched the Brylcream and let the hair fall over my forehead, permitting the classic head-snap, shoulder-shrug move to clear it out of my eyes. By the time I got to college (and out of my father’s sight) I let my hair grow out to about shoulder-length and even tried the part-in-the-middle thing. My hair was naturally wavy and drove the girls mad with jealousy but not much else.
I’d grown out of that by the time I went corporate and was back to the low -maintenance, part-on-the-left, just-over-the-ears-and-collar look. It was pretty much wash-and-wear, with no mousse or gel (or moose-and-squirrel) and definitely no Brylcream. It must have been ok because I was able to induce the not-yet-Reverend Mother to marry me. When I went to get my hair cut on the morning of my wedding day the stylist (perhaps at the behest of my bride) suggested I try something different.
Sure, on the single-most important day of my life, let’s take a flyer — maybe it’ll keep people from paying too much attention to the rented tux. On that day I converted to a no-part, combed straight back and moussed look, and I stuck with that for the next 19 and a half years. It may have even been stylish for a year or two of that period, but it was always neat and tidy and responded well to my comb. My hair was so used to that grooming that even if I skipped a day without the gel it would still go back that way; my wife called it “memory hair.”
Naturally, life with a hair-stylist in the family brings a certain dynamism to the home that means change is inevitable. Last week I sat down in the Mall Diva’s styling chair for a cut and mused that maybe I should try something a little diff- … well that was about all I needed to get out before the she went into a blur of hands, clippers and scissors. Fortunately she knows a few more tricks than my father, but I ended up with short hair on the sides and a little bit longer than that on top. Instead of moussing it straight back however, I was told to put the gel on my finger tips and poke it into my hair, then tousle everything back and forth once or twice, leaving it standing up and pointing in every direction.
Wow. I figured people would think I’d either paid $90 to have my hair professionally zhooshed — or they’d think I’d just gotten out of bed. It’s kind of hip, kind of now…and by the end of the day it’s a little droopy. My daughter says that is because I’m just using styling gel; I need to switch to pomade. Pomade? I could see myself going into the drug store: “I’m a Dapper Dan man, I don’t want Fop, I want Dapper Dan!”
It also feels kind of funny, especially when the breeze blows. When I catch sight of my shadow or my reflection I reflexively reach for my comb to get the strays back in formation before I remember there are supposed to be strays; if I’ve done it right I’m supposed to look like a durian fruit, or Sonic the Hedgehog. I leave my comb in my pocket, though truth be told I could probably just leave it at home.
I’m getting used to it, though, and no one’s said anything to me about it. They probably figure it’s just some mid-life crisis and they don’t want to get involved.