(Hey Phil, thanks for making me look cuter than I really was)
I was a nervous, timid kid. My home life was harrowing, since my parents marriage was constantly turbulent. Both my parents worked, so I was often cared for by relatives or neighbors. Things were always unstable and I was always apprehensive. Somewhere around the age of three (possibly four??) I developed the habit of twisting my hair around one finger and tugging at it. I didn't do it constantly, but I did it often enough to annoy my father.
One day Dad grabbed me and whisked me off to the barber shop. He plopped me down in the chair and said to the barber "Cut it all off!"
The son of a bitch did.
Within three minutes of the clipper's buzz, I was as bald as Humpty Dumpty. I looked like a frickin' midget from Camp Pendleton.
Me during my third Christmas.
I looked cranky, but at least I still had my hair.
From that day on, hair was a big issue for me and I had an intense aversion to barber shops. I was subsequently subjected to crew cuts for many years, although - judging from photos - the length of my hair fluctuated from nearly bald to almost normal.
On my third-grade school photo my crew cut looked so horrible that I hid the picture from everyone. To this day nobody's seen it. From grades four through six my hair seemed to be a more reasonable length. Perhaps my parents finally realized that I shouldn't go through life looking like Sluggo.
Second Grade, age six. I'm the one in the striped shirt. I wasn't subjected to another crew cut until I was in third grade.
By seventh grade (which was Junior High in California) my hair was long enough to part and comb over to one side. That was the "longer" hair style that the surfers wore back then, so everyone started calling me "Surfer".
So, Jon, when are you gonna get to the good stuff?
There is no good stuff. I'm merely walking down a Hairy Memory Lane.
My high school years occurred during the hippie era. One or two guys dared to have long hair in school, but they were inevitably expelled. Hair cuts for boys were still de rigueur. If your hair grew long enough to touch the top of your ears, it was considered too long.
I was sixteen during my senior year. My maternal grandmother died that autumn and we went back east to attend the funeral. Numerous relatives icily commented that I needed a haircut.
Graduation, age sixteen
my hair was considered too long
Men's hair was a huge issue at that time. You were either a clean-cut non-conformist collegiate type, or a radical, freakish, trouble-making hippie. If a man let his hair grow anywhere near the realms of "shaggy", snide comments would inevitably be hurled.
When are you gonna get a haircut?
Do you want to be a girl?
Are you trying to be a hippie?
Are you a frickin' fairy?
(Yea. Wanna see my magic wand?)
When I was sixteen I happened to encounter my cousin George in New Jersey. George was ten years older than myself and a successful restaurateur. He was always known as a stuck-up condescending snob.
He didn't even bother to say "hello". He simply sneered and said "I'd never let you work in my restaurant with hair like that!"
I was shocked. Hey, Georgie old boy - how'd you like a turkey baster up your ass?
Fortunately I was disgustingly sweet and polite back then. I didn't dare say one word.
Here's a delicious aside:
Ol' George has since been married about five times. I heard that one of his ex-wives dumped boiling water on him, then drove her car through the side of his house (no lie - I couldn't make this stuff up).
Hey - revenge is sweet.......
After high school graduation I slowly but surely started letting my hair grow - nothing close to radical hippiedom, but long enough to be contentedly shaggy. I began using lemon juice on it (like some surfers did) so it was sun-bleached.
Hippie Jon (I'm the one on the right......in case you couldn't guess....)
I went through numerous phases during my colorful California youth:
The Huntington Beach Surfer.
I was far from ever being an adept surfer, but I could pass for a reasonable facsimile.
Any one remember puka shell necklaces, granny glasses, and mood rings?
Devotee of Transcendental Meditation.
I wore sandals and East Indian clothing. A guru told me to give up my worldly possessions and abstain from sex.
I had no worldly possessions. I abstained from sex for about three hours.
Post Vietnam Army Fatigues and Dog Tags.
I used to haunt Army & Navy surplus stores. I wound up looking like a reject in a casting call for "Platoon".
Hollywood Boulevard Midnight Cowboy. Arguably my best facade. And my most popular one.
So, what does all this have to do with my hair?
Through all of my many phases and identities, I've never again went to a barber. Never had another crew cut. Never trusted anyone to cut my hair but myself. Never gave a damn about what anybody thought about my hair.
I might look like the far side of hell, but at least I'm content.
Nowadays, at 150 years old, I don't give a rat's ass what anybody thinks.
all of my family photos are still stored on my desktop computer, which I haven't unpacked yet, so I didn't have much of a choice. I had to take all of the above photos from my old blog Lone Star Concerto.