I got a haircut over the weekend, only my second one since before the pandemic, so I was looking pretty shaggy.
Actually, if you dial up an old “Scooby Doo’’ clip and check out the dog’s buddy, Shaggy, you’ll get a picture of what I mean when I say I was looking shaggy, except that the real Shaggy wasn’t bald on top.
Getting a haircut is awkward for me these days. I haven’t been to a real barber since sometime early in February, which was B.C. or “Before COVID-19.’’ It’s true that I’ve never been meticulous about haircuts. I knew a guy, a banker, who made his appointment for a trim the next week when he stepped out of the stylist’s chair after the current week’s trim. That isn’t me. I’ve been known to go five or six weeks between trims, longer back on campus, but who didn’t in their college days?
Since the pandemic arrived, my already-loose five-to-six week schedule for trims has been wrecked. Nancy and I are in that older demographic considered more vulnerable to the virus. We’re pretty cautious. I’ve only gone to a couple of stores in the past five-plus months. When I do, I wear a mask and worry that some militant anti-masker will accost me. Nancy cuts my hair – well, she has twice now.
It isn’t easy. When a guy goes nearly three months between trims, the person trying to bring order to the chaos doesn’t have any guide to follow. The banker with the weekly trims? Pretty easy to see what he needs done every week. Me? Knock an empty bird’s nest from a tree, kick it across the yard and then try to put it back in shape. That’s what it must be like to try to make sense of my overgrown mess.
I’m not much help, either. Nancy clips, combs, inspects, clips a little more and ask me if I like it this way or that. I look in the mirror, shrug and say that looks great. She spots a place that needs work, clips, questions, and I shrug and like that, too.
In my defense, I’m the guy who went from about fifth grade through high school with a crew cut, a flat top, a butch, a buzz cut. Whatever the name, it was a style with a uniform quarter-inch of hair all around. In the days that I had that style, my mom made sure I went to Elmer Westendorf’s shop on Main Street at least every third week. Wouldn’t want that crew cut to get all shaggy, would we? And even with hair that short, for no good reason I slathered it with sticky stuff – butch wax, they called it. Lucky Tiger was my favorite.
Most of my male classmates had some version of a crew cut, although a few of them grew their hair just long enough to make a part. Toward the end of high school, a couple of classmates grew James Dean-style hair, swept back on both sides and with a huge wave on the top. Their dads yelled at them. That’s mostly why they did it.
I never understood the big deal about hair, anyway. I had a classmate whose hair in the late ‘50s was longer than most of the hippies toward the end of the ‘60s. One coach called him Hawkeye and wouldn’t let him go out for the team unless he got a haircut. He refused, kind of a foreshadowing of what was to come with dads and sons everywhere as the Age of Aquarius dawned.
Because I neglected my haircuts in college, my roommate called me “young Hemingway,’’ which really didn’t make sense. At its most neglected, my hair then was shorter than the Beatles’ hair when they arrived from England with those mop cuts. Those styles weren’t very long, either, not really, but they horrified a couple of generations of parents. I suppose in any age being different is a sign of rebellion. And rebellion, whether for good reason or without a cause, is scary to people.
Folks in my neighborhood can relax. I’m not rebelling. I just don’t get out much.