People of my generation will remember those great lyrics from that ‘60s rock musical:
Gimme a head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me it down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
“Gimme a head with hair.” Oh yeah.
I remember my hair.
When I was little my folks kept my hair really, really short—it was basically a buzz cut. As I got older and nerdier my parents arranged with my barber Mr. Spears to keep me in a hair style that befitted said nerdiness.
But I wanted long hair, by which I meant hair that came over my ears a little bit. My mother was adamantly opposed to such a development although I really don’t know why; I suppose she thought such shagginess would be the first step down the short road to utter degradation and unbridled licentiousness. I eventually did manage to allow my hair to creep over my ears bit by bit so that by the time I was fourteen they were about three-quarters covered but I am happy to report that my life did not become three-quarters covered with either degradation or licentiousness as a result.
I remember bitter debates (all right, they were really good-natured discussions but bitter debates sounds more dramatic) at my church about whether Jesus had long hair (he did) and just what it meant for a woman’s hair to be her glory and for it to be shameful for a man to have long hair and, in a related vein, just how long did a woman’s hair have to be for it to be glorious and just how long did a man’s hair have to be to be shameful?
As I was preparing to leave home for college among my father’s parting words to me were these: “Don’t let yourself go.” But, I thought, I couldn’t leave for college if I didn’t let myself go; then I realized that he meant that he didn’t want me to let my appearance go, which surely meant at least in part that I wasn’t supposed to let my hair get long.
Somewhere between my junior and senior years I let myself go; at least, my hair got pretty long. When I went a considerable time between haircuts, which I often did in those days, my hair also grew very, very thick—think biblical Absalom, whose annual haircut produced several pounds of hair. How thick were my locks? Well, when I washed my hair I would sit down to blow dry it because the task took so long.
Daddy never said a word about my long hair. One day during my senior year I decided to get most of my hair cut off. When I went home Daddy didn’t say a word about that, either. Parents are so blamed confusing.
Even when it was short my hair was thick. It was abundant. It was luxurious. It was mine.
I have always had a high forehead but over the years my hairline has receded; I also have an encroaching bald spot on the crown of my head. The other day I looked at a few minutes of the video of our morning worship service in order to analyze my sermon but I found myself instead analyzing my hair, which wasn’t all bad, since it distracted me from studying my waistline. I didn’t like what I saw.
So today I went to a beautician who is a member of our church and asked her for help. Now, what hair I have is real, real short. It’s a concession to reality and I’m ok with it.
You know, sometimes life comes full circle.
My next move will be a buzz cut.
Mama and Daddy would be so proud.