March 2012- Raising my hair is an experience

I shaved my head.

This was not done for any of the many reasons that could be (and have been) potentially speculated upon; I am not sick; I am not supporting anyone who is sick; I am not making a statement; I did not have gum in my hair (although I have had that happen, just not this time); I did not have lice (although I have had that happen (twice), just not this time); and I did not feel that I needed to look just that little bit more like an ex-con dock worker.

I shaved my head because I woke up and I was sick of having hair.

It happens. I’m sure it happens to other people as well, not just me. I was just willing to act on it.

I’ve done it before. I’ll probably do it again. My hair and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. I’ve come to believe that there is a period of time for a man (usually shortly after gaining a small amount of independence from the parental units in his life) where he experiments with his hairstyles before bonding with the one that he will hold for the rest of his life. If the man is lucky, this is a timeless hairstyle that retains its class over the passage of decades, like the side-parted combover. If the man is unlucky, or simply clueless, he’ll bond like a duckling to the ratty mullet.

Unfortunately, most men who bond with the ratty mullet are incapable of seeing just why the ratty mullet is not to be bonded with. Oh well.

For most men, this period of experimentation is relatively short, and frequently happens during college. Or high school. For me, my experimentation was primarily during college, with some lingering flings with hairy “what ifs” during my after-college adult years, before I finally bonded with the short flat-top hairstyle. Mainly because it looks good on me; but it’s also easy to care for, and I only need to buy one bottle of shampoo a year.

It does require monthly upkeep, or it becomes an unruly half-inch mop of hippy-like hirsute disarray. Luckily, my barber, Steve, is more than aptly able to meet my hairstyle needs.

(At one point in my life, I thought that a good rule for picking barbers was that the older the barber, the better the cut. This proved to not always be true when I choose a barber easily of 90+ years of age to cut my hair, only to discover his hands shook with age and he was far more interested in watching through his window what was happening on Main Street than he was in seeing where the clippers were going on my head. Granted, he also only charged me $5 for the cut, so I wasn’t exactly unhappy, especially since there was no blood.)

In my experimental college phase, I enjoyed not only changing my hairstyle, but also my hair color, mainly because if I bleached it, it turned orange which amused me. Someone told me that fruity drink-mixes will change the color of hair, so I tried those, too (it didn’t work, but I smelt like grape for days.)  I enjoyed using gel to create spikes in my hair, although they tended to curl at the tips, which made me frustrated, as I desired a pristine row of porcupine lushness adorning my dome.

The hair on the sides of my head always grows faster than on the top, so frequently I’d have orange spikes and brown fuzzy sides and I’d look like a demented badger. Sometimes, I’d go to a random hair salon and tell them they could do whatever they liked. Usually, they played it safe. Once, I got awesome stripes carved into my hair.

Frequently, this all happened in the span of one month. Or less. And repeated whenever I felt like a change.

And then, I discovered a product called “Hard Hair.” I don’t believe it’s made any more, which is a shame. It was the hairspray equivalent to Viagra. I used it to create eight-inch high wedges of orange hair above my head, but only when I was bored of the Flock-of-Seagulls-esque waves I’d sculpt. This spray held like cement- I popped a balloon once with the spikes I made. A friend suggested writing the company to ask if the name could be changed to “Bulletproof Head,” but we decided the liability factor made the chance of a name change slim to none.

This spray was nearly waterproof, a drawback when it came time to shower. I used to stand under the water for 20 minutes, just waiting for the hold to loosen sufficiently for shampooing. Of course, I’d re-spray it immediately after the shower was done, so I’m not sure if there was even a point of removing it in the first place. Probably to prevent injury to myself.

It was in college that I shaved my head for the first time, which is also when I learned the incorrect way of shaving one’s head. Bored, I not only wanted to cut off all my hair, but I wanted to have the shiny chrome look as well on my scalp. I didn’t know how to accomplish this, of course, but I figured the best way to do so would be to use a hair-removing depilatory product.

There’s a reason these products come with instructions. And a reason they should be read. Another of the lessons I learned.

Fifteen minutes after I applied the cream, I realized I still had most of my hair and fantastic chemical burns across my scalp as well. I decided to use my shaving razor to remove what was left of the hair on the top of my head, and so, placing it at the back of my scalp,  with a firm hand I pulled it steadily towards the front. This removed a large amount of hair, as well as a deep strip of skin.

I may have even screamed a little.

By the time I was done, I had patches of stubble and strands of hair on my red scalp, blistered and scabbed. For the next few weeks, I wore a bandanna tied around my head, as otherwise I looked like a nuclear mutant zombie.

Sadly, after graduating from college and entering the “real” world, my hair-altering experimentations had to be seriously curtailed. I’d still occasionally bleach my hair, just for old time’s sake, but the older I got the less acceptable this became, to me if to no one else. The vagaries of youth so quickly become the vagrancies of older age- crow’s feet and neon hair colors work together for very few, and I didn’t want to join the ranks of the 30-something mullet-wearing clueless.

I quickly became enamored with the simplicity of the flat top, and for the past decade and a half it’s been my go-to hairstyle. And I expect it to remain that way for the next decade and a half, if not longer.

But sometimes, I miss the excitement of my previous college days’ experimentation. And sometimes, I get tired of my head itching (still not lice) and hairs shedding and poofy side hair and tiny amounts of shampoo and being too hot and being too dishevelled and so … I shave my head.

At least this time, it wasn’t a result of lice, which was a result of a spending a quick hour in a seedy hotel on Rt. 66. Turns out, they’re cheap for a reason.

I still don’t know where the lice came from the second time, however. It wasn’t a seedy hotel this time, for just like using depilatory cream on my scalp (the version for ‘intimate areas’, no less) the hardest lessons tend to stick with me.

Just like my beloved flat-top.

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