When I am King: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

When I am King...

We’ll all be bald.

It was time, once again, to cut my hair. I know when my hair starts looking dumb that the time is upon me. But when co-workers start making fun of it, it’s past time and something has to happen. Soon.

Don't get me wrong: I like long hair, or at least I like the idea of it. I like letting hair grow out because we just don’t feel like cutting it, having a more casual image that doesn’t need to conform to some uptight standard of close-cropped follicles, letting it whip around in the breeze as you ride around in your devil-may-care jeep (which always sounds good, then you get a nice fat lock snapping you in the eyeball and it's a little less wonderful). Plus, you can use the loose ends of your long hair as a spare napkin or dust mop.

But the reality is that my hair looks awful when it gets long. It doesn’t even look good at medium length. In fact, it looks best when it’s hardly there at all.

My parents have never told me the true story of my origins, but I suspect that my hair is a result of the unholy union of a Chia Pet and a Brillo Pad. It is at once an impermeable substance, built to withstand great stress and provide powerful scrubbing ability, and a miracle plant which defies gravity by growing straight out in the direction it points. Meanwhile, the individual strands of hair are inorganic materials, giving my mop the absorbency of a box of nails. I can get out of a pool with hair that is just as dry as it was before I got in. If it weren’t for the rust stains my hair leaves as it dries, I wouldn’t need a towel at all.

The combination of these factors gives me a topping that is less like a head of hair and more like a porcupine on high alert, except not quite as cuddly.

When it is short, it’s fine; it just sits there, biding its time and plotting its evil hair plots. I can tell what it’s thinking, but it can’t do anything about it yet.

When the hair is at medium length, it has grown out in all directions and is untamable by comb, brush, or flame thrower. It is an impenetrable mass of steel bristles, shaped only by its own whims and my awkward sleeping positions at night. It is a helmet of yuck, a dollop of ridiculousness, a statement to everyone around me that I had a bad night last night, even when it is now the next evening and the hair has looked like that all day.

I remember watching Dune, years ago. I enjoyed it not because of the way it fantastically captured the essence of the book (it didn’t), not because of its great acting (it had none, although I did enjoy Sting as a nut case), and certainly not because of the main character’s incessant and annoying whispering narration (“Father - She Sleeper has Awoken!”). No, I liked it because the main guy had a hair helmet like mine. I could tell that he was one sleepless night away from total hair anarchy, and that only the wizards of Hollywood were able to keep that ball of shame in check. And it gave me hope that there might be a place in this world for me and my dumb hair, even if it was just in bad 80s sci-fi flicks.

But alas, the movie bombed and I don’t remember seeing that actor or his dumb coif again. There was no renaissance of poofy hair styles, no viral uptake on that casserole of immovable mess. There was just a failed film and an actor looking for work and a better hairstyle.

So I continue my strategy of Cold War with my hair, beating it back every few weeks, whenever I catch it in another hair-raising uprising.

My weapon of choice is a set of electric clippers. I stopped going to the barber years ago because my hair is just not worth it. I could either take an hour or more to drive somewhere, sit and wait for my turn, chit-chat with the chopper about nothing I care about, and then drive home, having given my hair far more of my time than it is worth. Or I could take the clippers to it like so many guillotines punishing the tiny prisoners; at once quicker, more effective, and more satisfying. It’s not just about taming the mess; it’s about teaching the hair a lesson. Over and over.

When I am King, we’ll all be bald, or at least I will be. Wear a wig if you want, but this constant hair-paring is time-consuming and annoying. My hair cuts don’t make me look better, they just prevent me from looking even worse. Why bother? Maybe this is what balding is about as we get older; by the time it starts falling out you’re just glad to see it go.

Besides: I won't need hair when I’ve got a crown.


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