Thursday, January 14, 2010

I miss my mullet

The other day, my wife and I engaged in a heated argument with my fourteen-year-old daughter, which is not at all unusual. This time, however, we each noticed simultaneously that she was looking at her hair in the mirror as she fought with us, turning her head to left profile, right profile, left, right, etc. Naturally, this infuriated the two of us even more.

Later, after calming down, I realized that most people spend a lot of time looking at, and thinking about, their hair. As with most of us, I didn't really care much at first. Back in the Sixties, the short, boy hair was my only option, with the occasional application of some Aqua Net from Mom, or Brill Cream from Dad, before heading out to Sunday school. Every summer necessitated what my dad referred to as an "athlete's haircut," which was really just spin lingo for, "Let's just shave it all off, so we won't have to worry about it, and the lice will slide right off if they happen to move in."

I'll never forget, around 1972, longer male hair styles became more widely accepted, even by the conservative establishment. Finally, I could rock some longer hair. Little did I know that my head was beginning to produce as much oil as the North Slope of Alaska. By the time my bangs grew down over my forehead, they had soaked up most of the greasy T-zone deposits and clumped into arrowheads, pointing down at my eyebrows and face.

Later in adolescence, after embracing the magic of Clearasil pads, my hair style evolved into what we now refer to as a "butt cut"— parted in the center and feathered on the sides and around to the back. This look was extremely utilitarian, and if you examine any high school yearbook between 1976 and 1980, you'll notice that guys and girls alike embraced this wonderful coif.

The Eighties witnessed one of my darkest hair periods, not in color, but in sheer historic ugliness. Some called it the "soccer cut." Some referred to it as the "Shlong," (for the combination of "short" and "long"). Others have coined it "business in front, party in the back," but the best and simplest term I can use is "mullet."  The whole idea was to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and see a well groomed top and sides, while at the same time, you could admire a cascading waterfall of brown wonder down below your ears in the back. I've got a driver's license that I keep around just to show people how stellar I looked when my mullet was in its full-on, obnoxious glory.

When the grunge era erupted upon the Seattle scene, I embraced that as well, and did not cut my hair between July, 1992 and May, 1996. Let's just say I've checked the "sensitive-ponytail-man" box off my list of things to do.

From then on, it's really been a challenge just to maintain what I've still got up there. I don't really concern myself with the latest looks and products. Some days the hair looks okay, other days it looks like it's time to shop for some of those old, Elton John hair plugs on Craigslist.

And in terms of my teenage daughter, maybe we'll both stand in front of the mirror next time we have an argument. Eye contact is important.

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