I did it for a smile.
Recently, I got a haircut. Not a big deal for a man usually, right? Well, I am one of those children from the 60ís who has kept his hair long for all of these years. From Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, I felt like letting my "freak flag fly".
I have had many friends and lovers over the years who have tried to get me to get my hair cut short. They always say how better Iíd look with short hair. I have always resisted. Itís not that my hair is really that long, but it is definitely longer than normal for the corporate world I visit eight hours a day.
But this past Sunday, for a smile, I got it cut - short. It is probably shorter than it has been since about 1969. A voice sweetly said "trust me" and I did. I am, by nature, very stubborn. But, this sweet voice made me curious. It was not a command to be resisted, but a request to let someone else explore an "artistic vision" of how I would look best. And, when the deed was done, she was well pleased.
The deed, in fact, was done by a fellow long hair. The hair he sported was much longer than mine, but pulled back into a pony tail. He continually gave me sympathetic looks during the whole process. He also apologized to me for agreeing that the shortest hair style being discussed would look the best from among the various options. I had agreed beforehand to keep my mouth shut and let my personal Pygmalion carve out her image of me. Later, as she moved out of earshot for a moment, my Delilah whispered that his wife had been trying to get him to shear his hair for some time, but he refused. We had a bond between us. He had been under this pressure himself, but had not succumbed. So he, at once, empathized (snip) and sympathized (snip).
But, let me make this perfectly clear. I had not given in to pressure, had I? I said to a smile, that I would try something new. It can always grow out, right? At any rate, when the ordeal was over, the instrument of change said that my hair looked really nice. So, I turned and asked him if he would like the same cut. He just smiled and said, "No way!"
But, as I said, the woman behind the smile was well pleased. She said: It brought out my face more. My forehead (Neanderthal, or Cro-Magnon perhaps?) could now be seen and appreciated. I now represented my age and status. (Honestly, I didnít even know I had a status.) I also looked handsome. (I must have really looked like shit before.) Most of all, the short hair represented discipline.
The next day, Monday, was time to go back to work. I knew that there would be some reactions from the fellow rats in the corporate maze. However, nothing could have prepared me for the day ahead. There were a great many shocked looks, then smiles, then "you look great!" or "you look like a new man!", followed by "I really like it!" (Make that bleached cat shit that I looked like before.) Even people with whom I hardly spoke were mentioning it. My boss did a double take and then later sent someone else to my office to look at me. (I should have sold tickets.) I went to the buildingís cafeteria, minding my own business, to get lunch. There were a few looks, but nothing was said. As soon as I got back to my office, I started getting electronic mail (Ollie Northís favorite - PROFS) about my hair. One note even went so far as to say that "the whole building was abuzz about my hair". (I swear, I must have been runner-up to Quasimodo in a beauty contest.) It must have been a boring , slow news day at the office. I almost came to expect a TV news van to pull up to the building. I can imagine my Mom seeing me on CNN and saying "my his hair looks great!" Or, if I got hit by a bus walking out, the paramedics would take extra special care while putting me in the ambulance so that they wouldnít mess up my hair.
Well, I did call the lady with the smile to tell her that she could say "I told you so". She was very happy that everyone loved my hair. Again, she told me how very handsome I looked with my short hair. She also was delighted to tell me that, when she told her son about getting my in the barberís (sorry, hair stylist, after all, gotta be pc), he said "good" because he thought my hair was too long. (Yep, it was Quasimodo in first, the Tazmanian Devil, the Elephant Man, with me bringing up the rear in the beauty contest.)
The whole dayís proceedings really shook me up. I mean, there is enough vanity in me that I want to be attractive to people (especially, beautiful ladies with wondrous smiles). But, itís what is inside that really counts, right? Am I the "Brand X" that got packaged in a fancy new wrapper and became the new wonder drug?
Yeah, yeah, Iíve seen those movies where the meek, milksop of a girl goes through a transformation and all of a sudden is beautiful beyond compare and gains a warehouse full of self-confidence. The ugly duckling has become a swan. The problem with those movies is that we can always see and know that the actress playing the milksop is already beautiful. Have we become such a style-over-substance society?
I think that I kept my hair long for so many years for a couple of reasons. (No, those reasons donít include being lazy or being so out of it that I couldnít find the barber shop - OOPS, Styling Salon.) One was, of course, my homage to the era in which I became "aware". The other was that long hair usually weeded out certain types of people that I wished to avoid. In other words, it kept the "superficial" people from bothering me, right? A lot of thinking went on in my brain (the one now under short hair) that night after work.
Short hair means discipline, right? Bullshit! Long hair or short, Iíve had enough discipline in my life to be able to train for and complete 16 marathons. I completed college with a 4.0 average while at the same time working 40 hours a week in a factory. Have I changed my view of substance over style? I must admit to a certain enjoyment over the fuss made about my "new look". (Hell, I am human after all.) Is that going to give me self-confidence? Am I now going to grow a mane and become a corporate lion? People are going to look at me in a different light. Do I want that? Do I want to change some things in my life?
Well, of course, I want to change certain things in my life. Life is an ever-changing journey. The first lesson to learn is that you truly know nothing. (Admittedly, this is easier for some than others. And, it is also easy to realize that the person sitting next you hasnít a clue about anything.) I want to live as a warrior. And, to do that, I must meld mind, body, and spirit in a harmony. And, that harmony is made strong through an open mind, strong body, and devoted spirit. I know there is no perfection to be found here on earth (Sorry, Mr. Limbaugh.), but life is a constant battle to reach for that elusive perfection.
I am as susceptible as the next man to physical beauty. But, the inner fire of the soul bursting forth and shining through the trappings of the body is what captures my love, respect and admiration. Have I given into style? Will I be different now?
No, it doesnít really matter what I look like on the outside. There was a time when it would have. I have grown comfortable with who I am and how I approach lifeís journey. I am secure in what I am striving for. I wonít reach the end of my journey for many lifetimes to come. But, I will get there. Each day is a new opportunity to learn. A short haircut doesnít mean that the bearer is a neo-nazi corporate earth raping asshole any more than long hair means that we have a free-thinker on our hands. To think so is to lable, stereotype, foster stupid prejudices and cause shit to happen. And, havenít we had enough of that?
It comes down to taste. It comes down to saying "Hey, I think I might try a new look". It comes down finally to the fact that itís just a haircut, dummy, so shut up and enjoy life. What a maroon!
So, I did it for a smile. Was it worth all the turmoil it brought about?
Well, within that very smile is a stunning combination of the joyous adrenaline of sunrise and the serene awe inspiring beauty of the most wondrous of sunsets. This smile is a light shining through a loving, enlightened soul. This smile comes from the heart. And, as I look upon it, brightens my soul like the darkest of nights illuminated by Godís mightiest thunderbolts.
Was it worth it for that smile? Man, donít bother me with such a stupid question! (You know, maybe I can get the judges to recount and I can beat out the Elephant Man for third place!)