Teen Hair Torture

December 17, 2007 at 1:54 pm (Waxing Nostalgic)

A friend blogged today about her teenage son and his first shaving experience. Knowing her has been beneficial in many ways, but being able to watch her son approach adulthood has been especially helpful. He’s about a year older than my nephew, which makes him sort of a preview of coming attractions.

I began shaving about age thirteen. One day as I was out driving around with Dad, I caught a glimpse of myself in the pickup’s rear-view mirror. WTF? I was sporting a full growth of fine white hairs about a quarter-inch long. The sun was catching it just right, and I had my first look at the future! I finally had more facial hair than my older sister! But… it was peach fuzz, and I didn’t want facial hair unless it was full and thick. You know, manly.

So I went into the bathroom, dug through the drawer and found my dad’s old razor. The one he was using was old, but I knew better than to mess with that one, so I took the cast-aside one. There were no blades for it, so I took one of Dad’s safety blades from the rectangular dispenser, snapped it in half and wedged it in so it wouldn’t move. Hmm. While this didn’t look safe, a test run wielded no blood, so I continued. I managed to get fuzz-free with no nicks.

This happened on a Wednesday, while my Mom was off on one of her biblical adventures ‘for the ladies only’. (My time for mischief without parental interference.) Would anyone notice my cherubic face? More importantly, how soon would it grow back?

I checked my stubble progress about every three hours, until Saturday, when a sprig of hair appeared above the corner of my mouth. THANK GOD! I was afraid it would never grow back, and I’d be stuck looking like John Candy for life.

After a couple years of keeping clean, my older cousin went into the Navy. His four-hair mustache was his source of pride, and when they made him shave it off, I was secretly happy. But then he bragged about how he had to shave every day, and the competition was on again. I started shaving every day at age fourteen.

Eventually I had to change the dangerously rigged razor blade. When I couldn’t replicate, I borrowed Dad’s regular razor. After two times, he took me to Payless Pharmacy and bought me my own Gillette safety razor. I still have and use it.

This was a weird time for me hairwise. My religious mother insisted on short hair and no facial hair. I bucked the rules by growing sideburns. While most of the good Witness boys had Porter Waggoner-style neat sideburns, mine were of the Elton John-Neil Young variety, thick and almost down to my collar. I was censured for this, and about that time I rebelled, and began growing my hair long.

When I see goofy looking haircuts on teenagers, I have to smile. Is it a right of passage to have such ‘unique’ hair? I was stuck with military short on the side and back, with the top and front long, so I could comb it over to one side. Since I refused to use goop, hair was always in my eyes, so I coughed up an extra $2 and went to the only hair stylist in Sandy Oregon. His name was Earl.

Earl told me it may take two or three haircuts to fix the butchery inflicted upon my follicles. (He even named the local barber who did it. He apparently did a lot of rescue and recovery.) Soon I had hair of an equal length, and though I parted it in the middle, it was short enough to keep Mom happy.

For a while.

I decided I wanted to see what I’d look like with long hair, so I let it grow. I didn’t cut it between sixteen and eighteen, and ended up with a flaming red dandelion puff that resembled Robert Plant after a bout with an electrical outlet. Girls loved it, I loved it, but after I’d moved out on my own and had nothing to rebel against, I decided to get it cut.

Long hair was becoming passe in 1979, and the Sex Pistols were all the rage, so I decided to go extreme. I got a ‘David Bowie’, basically a buzz cut with a bit of rat tail. (It started as a mullet, but the lady went rat tail at the last minute. What started as David Bowie left me looking more like a lesbian, so I had a girl from the neighborhood snip it off. Now I just looked punk.

Since then I’ve sported an actual mullet for a while, though you couldn’t tell. I’d wear a ball cap or my special drinking boony hat. I looked like a pro wrestler or a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, depending on the hat status.

Then, as the millennium turned, I got practical and had a buddy cut it all off. The plan was to grow it all back at the same length, but I liked the short-cropped look. It took nothing to maintain, it was hard to screw up barber-wise, and my hats finally fit. Funny thing, after I cut the hair off, I quit wearing hats. Since I still had a full head of hair, might as well show it off. If my Dad is any clue, it won’t last forever.

Now the young ‘uns are shaving. My nephew had grown his hair out shoulder length, and he looked pretty cool With his four-hair mustache he looked like the young Michael Myers. The other morning as I did my morning bathroom routine, I noticed clumps of hair on the floor. My sister and niece are always trimming and clipping, so I didn’t think much of it.

I came home late the other night, and did a double take. Fists clenched as I saw the short-haired young man standing silhouette in the living room. “Hi Uncle!” It was my nephew.

“What happened to your head?”

“I got tired of it,” he said. His hair was cut down shorter than mine.

Later, I asked my sister about it. It was one of those deals where he took off a little bit here, then a little bit there. A little more here, OOPS! So he got my beard trimmer and tried to fix it. Oops again, So he went shorter. When finished he looked a bit like Mel Cooley from the Dick Van Dyke show. So his dad took over with the beard trimmer, and now he sports a tidy Maynard James Keenan hairdo.

Funny how times have changed. Short short hair? Pants drooping down around your ankles? Cockeyed baseball caps? All things that would get your ass kicked in the ’70s. Now they’re all the rage.

My nephew is pretty conventional. He only sports the short hair from the list above. He listens to Tool instead of Fiddy Cent. His pants go all the way to the top. His ballcap? Wears it at twelve o’clock.

We’ll see what his hair looks like next year at this time…

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