Sunday, February 21, 2010

Messy Hair

My history with hair goes back a long time. About 38 years, give or take.

My hair biography is pretty conservative. As a kid, my mom would take me to the one-size-fits-all barber and I'd get the basic bowl cut.

One time, in about 5th grade, I asked if the barber if he could do something fancy, like give me a part, and he said, "That's styling. We don't do that." So I remained a bowl-cut dork for a few more years.

At some point I started parting it down the middle on my own. In junior high I let it grow out really long. It was not a great look for me, and I remember the popular kid on the school bus yelling at me in front of everyone else to get a haircut. I was just happy that the popular kids noticed me.

In high school, my whole life revolved around wrestling, so I had a really short wrestler's haircut. It made me look tougher in a singlet.

In college I went through a phase where I just brushed my hair straight back. I think I was going for this look:

But I didn't use any gel, so it was much puffier than that. Maybe like this?

That's about the size of the glasses I wore back then, anyway. This brush-backed poofy look was featured in the picture that accompanied my humor column in the college newspaper. Ironically, the first column I wrote for publication was about hair. I wrote about how weird it is that we use dead cells growing out of head-- essentially waste from our bodies-- to attract mates. My anthropology professor liked it so much he read parts of it out loud to the class.

Sometime around the mid-90's I settled on a more traditional style. Parted on the side, combed over. I would get it cut really short on the sides and back, with just enough on top to lay down, then just let it grow out for a few months. Repeat cycle. This style has stayed with me through a decade and a half.

In general it was fine, if not spectacular.

But sometimes, when I went too long without a cut, it would do interesting things, like curl or bunch.

Last fall I decided it was time for a change. I don't know why. So I started looking at other guys' heads and trying to decide what kind of style I would like. Or what kind of style I could at least get away with. I noticed that there are a lot of men out there with hairlines similar to mine.

I did a Google images search, and came up with two samples that I liked. Short and simple, with hairlines that approximately resemble mine. Jude Law and Giovanni Ribisi:

I printed out these two images and took them to my $11 barber shop. They've always done a decent job before, and I never have to make appointments, which eases my fear of commitment.

"Make me beautiful!" I told the grizzled barber as I handed him the printout of the pictures. Okay, I didn't say that, but we had an understanding. He did his thing. I knew it would take some getting used to, so I didn't flinch when I saw myself in the mirror at the barber's. I rushed home and examined it more closely in private. My first reaction was, Omygod, what have I done?

I gave it a few days, but I finally had to admit the awful truth: I don't look anything like Giovanni Ribisi! And Jude Law? Fuggedaboudit!

Once it started to grow out, and I got more used to it, it didn't look quite so bad. The biggest adjustment was having the right side of my forehead exposed, since that had always been covered up by my comb-over.

About the same time I got the cut, I let my sideburns grow out, which is kinda fun.

Still, as the hair grew out, I agonized about what to do next. Should I continue with my new cut or try something else? In the meantime, it was winter so I wore hats.

The problem with hats is that eventually you have to take them off, and that can make for some terrible hat head.

I hate how in the winter I often have to choose between comfort or style. Freeze or look decent?

So my new cut has been growing out for several months now and I'm trying to figure out what my next move is. Eventually I'm going to have to get it cut again. The good thing about it is that I never use a comb or a brush on it. I just use my hands to flatten it down after I get out of the shower. It gives me a casual messy hair look, which I kinda like.

I've contemplated doing something daring and unprecedented. Going to an actual styling salon and paying more than $11 for their opinion. Shoving my head in their face and saying, "What can you do with this?"

I'm looking for a style that:
  • is low maintenance
  • doesn't cost much
  • looks good-- or at least doesn't embarrass me and my loved ones
  • can go a long time between cuts
  • is resistant to hat head
How about it, science?


Jolene said...

Haha, that was a riot of a post! I think your hair looks just fine, from my perspective, but I know what you mean - because honestly, I could pick at every little thing I hate about my hair from time to time, and to the average eye, it looks fine, but to me, it could look horrible.

Tim said...

Thanks. I'm glad my hair is as entertaining to you as it is to me.

xlpharmacy said...

I had the same problem when I was a kid, my mother tried to fix my hair all the time, and the only thing that she obtained was a worst hair.