Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Immediately

Of all the things in my previous post about working in college radio, I can’t believe the thing that caught the most attention was my flippin’ hair.

OK then, let’s talk hair.  I wasn’t always the acorn-head I am today.  I started out with a brush-cut, however, like all little boys did in the early 60s.  Dad would take us to Grandpa’s house, he’d get us in the basement and shear my brother and I like we were his little sheep.

In January, I told the story of the fights I had with my hair when I was growing up.  But for the benefit of new readers, I’ll quickly restate… If you remember the story, feel free to bloop bloop bloop until after the italics.

I’ve always hated my hair.  All I ever wanted was to have nice, smooth, perfect bangs and hair that lay down just so.  Preferably blond. 

No luck though…  I had hair that just would not obey.  One side would always flip in, the other side would flip outward.  As a teenager, I would blow-dry my hair straight down and then put on a ski cap… winter, summer, whatever… all in an attempt to bring some kind of order to my hair.

It worked like a charm though, right up until the time I’d take off the ski cap to go to school and the first molecule of air would blow by my skull and BANG… hair was going every which way.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I finally came to an understanding with my hair.  I was visiting one of my buddies in Georgia on vacation (as mentioned in the “Year of Pranking Dangerously post earlier this month) and was just sick and tired of messing with the mop on my head.  So I dove in the pool, got out, shook off my head and said, “Whatever it does, that’s what it will be.  I give up.”

Turns out, I had curly hair.  Even more so after I took my buddy’s mom’s advice and got a perm.  Made me look like the drummer from the band, Boston.  But once that passed I had a brief spell when everything looked OK.

I say “brief” spell because just as soon as I accepted the hair with which I was graced, it all fell out… It was quickly receding by the time I was a senior in college and I was cue-balled by 25.

Sometimes life is grossly unfair.”

Not only did I have to fight with my hair, I had to fight with my dad about my hair.  In the 70s, the longer your hair, the cooler you were.  So we had the usually father/son differences… I wanted it long and cool; he wanted it short and respectable.  He even sent me back to the barbershop once, when I didn’t have them take enough off.  It figured… it was the first haircut I’d liked in ages.  In all honesty, the barber probably didn’t cut anything off at all… probably just made snipping noises behind my head.  No wonder I liked it.  Didn’t fool the old man though… he sent my ass right back to have it done again.  Ooooh, I was pissed.

The hair wars pretty much abated once I got that perm, and like I said, the first one was just a disaster.  But I figured out my look soon enough and for a year or two in college, I had reasonably good hair.  So, there was no Jeri Curl and no “product” of any kind. 

Another thing I did, right out of high school was grow a beard.  We weren’t allowed to have beards at my high school, so I’m sure part of it was a sense of rebellion.  But on the other hand, a lot of the men in my family had beards.  My dad grew beards on and off throughout my whole childhood.  Several of my uncles also had beards.  So it was a look that I was accustomed to right off the bat. 
This was me on my 21st birthday, lit up on wine and digesting a huge spaghetti dinner and some German chocolate cake with my buddy Brill (who was about 5 months older than me, if you can believe it.)

I probably went overboard at first.  Teenage boys do pretty much everything as a kind of contest among themselves and I was no exception.  I grew a big, full, bushy beard, just because I could.  (Being Italian helps.  When I was born, the doctor was like, “Nurse, I’ll cut the cord, you shave him.)

As I got older, I finally figured out a good length to keep it, with maybe a half-inch growth, and I always tried to keep the fly-away hairs trimmed.  But it was always a full beard, cheeks and all.  (But no neck-beard.)  Shaving was a breeze in the morning, that’s for sure… 45 seconds and done.

I always thought it was good to have a beard if you were bald… It breaks up the monotony of your face. 

Years later, I still had the same beard.  Only now, there were a few too many white hairs mixing in under the chin.  But for much the same reason I kept longish hair in the back, so to not look like every other balding office monkey, I also resisted doing anything with my beard.  By this time, every putz on the planet had a goatee… I would have been just one more.  But those white hairs…  Hmmmm…

I began some long range planning.  I started shaving a little bit lower on my cheeks each week, just to try and get some daylight on them.  Remember, this was skin that hadn’t seen the light of day since 1979.  This was a big concern of mine… that I’d start stripping off the beard and find nothing but sickly, pasty white skin.  But each time I trimmed down a little lower, the skin was fine.

I was still really nervous about changing the beard though… I mean, I always sort of hid behind the hair.  Without the beard, I thought I’d just look like a thumb with a face on it.

To put my mind at ease, I took an old picture of me rocking the full beard, and tried to photoshop it into what I would look like in a goatee. 
 Fully bearded...

Photoshopped goatee simulation.

It didn’t seem too horrible, except for the grotesque appearance of scarring left by my amateurish photo-shopping skills.

Finally, I was ready.  Figuring I’d trust the professionals, I went to the Hair Cuttery and while I was getting a haircut, I asked if the stylist could trim my beard into a goatee.

She said, “What’s a goatee?

Unbelievable.  I should have said, “It’s the kind of beard that everyone in the state that’s not an Orthodox Jew is wearing.”  (I live in a neighborhood with a lot of Orthodox Jews, who all rock the ZZ Top beard.)

I didn’t really know what to say… I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and end up with something ridiculous.  She said to tell her were to trim and she’d do it.

I said “never mind.” 

So there I stood that night, April of 2004, in front of my mirror, shaver in hand.  I’d pick it up, turn it on… turn it off again and put it down.  Over and over, for 10 minutes, I stood there like an idiot.  Finally I just took a chunk out across my cheek…

There!  Now I have to finish.”

Somehow, I managed, and was pretty happy with the outcome… until I got to work the next day.  I was so unaccustomed to being barefaced; I hid in my cube all morning.  Finally, one of my co-workers, an older black lady, saw me and made me feel so much better.

She said, “Bluz, you look 10 years younger!” 

I eventually ventured out and found that that was the consensus.  It was a turn for the better.  After 25 years of full beardedness, I finally achieved a state of looking like everyone else.  Oh well...

I didn’t even tell my family I did it.  We had a big wedding coming up that month and I figured I’d spring it on them.  It was on my dad’s side of the family where he and I have been the only ones with beards.  My grandma didn’t like them on either of us.  She’d always say, “But I can’t see your face, with all that hair.” 

It was probably harder to get a fistful of cheek, as well.  A beard is a good cheek-pinching deterrent system… tougher to get a good grip.  So she and my mom were both happy when I showed up looking like this:
Excuse me, can you direct me to the hot chicks?”

Next topic:  Body hair!

28 comments:

  1. <--- hot chick who loves bald men, LOL

    Honestly, Nature did you a favor by letting you go bald early on. No unruly hair; it's not very 21st century you know... Plus, you're a GOOD bald. Sorry, I mean, you have a NICE looking large shiny forehead with fur on the sides :)

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  2. Well, thank you, Woman. I probably should have embraced it much earlier in life.

    We bald guys know we have less hair to comb, but a lot more face to wash. ;o)#

    My two old Barn buddies are always telling me I should just shave it all off, like they did. The down side of doing that is that if we all walk around together, we'd look like a set of bongos.

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  3. bongos - bwahahaha!! I don't know your friends but I think shaving it all is for people who didn't go bald "well".

    Example:
    I found out last night that since the divorce (2 yrs ago), my ex has gone VERY bald. He sometimes shaves and sometimes lets it grow. His is all in back and he wears a hat 99% of the time. He looks like a monk. It's bad. Like "someone ripped out a chunk of hair and my nasty looking head is reminiscent of a burn victim getting new skin" BAD.
    When he shaves it he looks like the total douchebag he is.. but keeping ANY hair on his head is worse. He's not balding "well".

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  4. Well, we bald guys do love our hats. I'm embarrassed to say that from right here, I can see 47 of my own baseball caps. (I just counted) And that doesn't count the ones around the corner out of sight, plus the ones in closets.

    If girls can have rooms full of shoes, I can have hats!

    Anyway, my friends shaved because they were in the same full-on retreat that I was (in my 20s) But they're both very fair-skinned, so they look like Aryan bikers.

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  5. It's a good thing you aren't pasty white then - with that goatie if you were to shave your head you could pass for someone in the aryan nation too. Although, you should add a tattoo to the neck if you want that look. ;)

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  6. OK, let me just say that your 'photo shopped' photo makes you look like a burn victim. But A for effort :) And I'm sure you didn't look like an idiot turning the shaver on and off. My husband grew a beard for the Pens last year and in the process of shaving it off, he gave himself a gotee, handlebar, '70's porn style and a HILTLER! It was GREAT. Now he has a beard again, but he keeps it well coiffed per my request (or demand.)

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  7. BALD IS BEAUTIFUL! Paste that under your eyelids. Grandma gave you dimples long before the beard. "AHH...che BELLA..." PINCH!!! She was mad because the beard covered them up.
    Nifty suit and red tie. Tres dapper.

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  8. CB LOOOOOVES bald guys!!!

    CB LOOOOOVES goatees!!!!

    Totally a right choice!!! How is it you're not attached to some chick by now sir????

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  9. I like the look you're sportin' in the last picture. Distinguished dude!

    I sported long hair in high school. Then I had the school teacher cut throughout my twenties. I eventually went to the buzz cut because I could do it myself.

    But last year I decided to try long hair again. It was fine until my daughter got lice at preschool. When I found that out, I shaved off all my hair, and I did the same to my two boys. I even cut my daughter's hair 5". My wife was sad about that.

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  10. Woman,
    If I were to shave my head, I’d probably grow back the full beard, and go Russian.

    No neck tattoos ever for me… Might as well just carry a sign that says “I’m unemployable.”

    If I ever got a tattoo, and that’s a big IF, I’d get a Steelers or Penguins logo on my shoulder, no bigger than a half-dollar.

    But then I’d have to keep shaving my shoulder… like I need more stuff to shave…

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  11. Cassie,
    Oh, I definitely look like a burn victim in the photoshopped shot… But if I sat far away from the monitor and kind of squinted, it told me what I needed to know. (which was to be sure not to play with matches.)

    My Dad used to shave his beards off in stages too… Fun with Facial Hair!

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  12. Mary Ann,
    Yeah, but you have to say that… As the daughter and niece of bald men, wife of a bald husband and mother of 2 bald sons, what choice do you have? You’ve been conditioned! (lucky for us!)

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  13. Thanks, Burgh Baby,
    But do realize that that’s a perfectly awful picture of me at 21. (and half in the bag, to boot.) I just used it to show “the mop”.

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  14. CB,
    Obviously, you’re a woman of refinement and exquisite taste…

    OK, maybe just exquisite taste!

    Oh, I am attached…

    I’ve mentioned her in a number of posts, but none recently, probably not since the big snowstorms in February. I refer to her as “Pinky”. (She’s a redhead.)

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  15. Thanks, Guy.
    Luckily, I never had to deal with lice. Gives me the creepies just thinking about it.

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  16. Once again, Carpetbagger and Bluz are linked in some "Lost"-like, smoke monster, lottery number, Dharma initiative-fated fashion. I, too, am rocking the balding pate and goatee. (Like it was my choice on the first part.)

    Fun fact: No one can define "goatee" without touching their face. Try it. Ask someone to define the word and watch them touch their face.

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  17. LOVE the Lambert jersey in the 21 pic. :-)

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  18. By now I'm sure you've seen photos of The Guy, who is almost as bald as a cueball. The other day, we went to lunch at McAlister's, and a woman with a cute little baby boy propped against her shoulder was in front of us. He kept smiling at The Guy, who kept making funny "mean" faces at him. "Why're you doing that?" I demanded. "Smile at that baby. He's cute. What's wrong with you?"

    "I'm jealous because he has more hair than me," came the reply. The mother heard him, and I thought she was going to wet her pants.

    While the curly 70's rock-and-roll hair is pretty sexy, your most recent photo is quite dapper and distinguished indeed. I would launch my rant about how most men only look better as they age, but I'll skip it today.

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  19. Bagger,
    We just playing the hand we’re dealt.

    Like my Uncle Joe always says, “God only made so many perfect heads, so he covered the rest with hair.”

    I’ve heard that Fun Fact before! There’s another one too… “spiral”, as in who can describe a spiral without using their hands to make little circles.

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  20. Thanks, DG.
    They’d call it a throwback now, but it was current at the time. Jack Splat was still playing and a was a very bad man (on the field.)

    Wish I knew what happened to that jersey…

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  21. BG,
    We guys love to make bad faces at babies, on the down-low. It probably goes back to cave-man days, when cave-men were trying to ensure the lineage of their own bloodline.

    On behalf of my gender, let me apologize for our graceful aging. Trust me, we wish it was the other way around.

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  22. Yeah, I had one, as well, which I am sure my mother threw away when I outgrew (or worse yet, gave it to my little brother). I SO wanted to be Lambert when I grew up. No dice.

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  23. DG,
    Jack was my favorite player as well, ever since Super Bowl X.

    If you were around to experience the old Steelers of the 70’s, you might appreciate this post from December.

    http://darwinfish2.blogspot.com/2009/12/birth-of-terrible-road-trip.html

    When we lived back in Toledo OH, we used to make an annual trip to Cleveland to see the Steelers/Browns game, and always stayed at the same Marriott where the Steelers stayed. There are some cool Lambert memories retold there…

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  24. Wow, thanks for the link. Great read, except now I hate you a little. Yeah, I was there. Born the year we drafted Mean Joe, lived through the glory, and the woe. Still love going to games vs. Cleveland, even though they stink now. Some hate never dies.

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  25. Thanks, DG, and I'll forgive you the hate.

    We were just lucky to be in the right places at the right times.

    Even with the new stadium, Cleveland's still a butthole.

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  26. The goatee looks good. The actual goatee, that is. Not the photoshopped one.

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  27. Thanks Gina, and I agree.

    I need better photoshopping skills, to avoid the Freddy Krueger look. But it served it’s purpose and helped me to “pull the trigger.”

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