Hair!

Ezekiel 44:20

Getting ready for work this morning, I realized I was overdue for a haircut, and I was reminded of my ever-changing hair. When I was little, my father was conservative and clean cut, and he believed his boys should be the same. We got regular haircuts, just rarely at a barber shop. That was a luxury, not a necessity. I think I went to the barber fewer than five times before my teen years.

Daddy had a pair of barber clippers and a boy’s haircut was simple; turn on the clippers, place the blade flat on his little head, and pretend you’re mowing the lawn. That style was called a “butch.” The way you keep a butch looking dapper was a product called Butch Wax. This was something akin to axle grease, except it was clear instead of black. I can still remember how it felt when my dad would put a gob of that on his hand and slap it on my head then rub it in. That part was not a gentle massage; actually, it hurt.

As a young fellow, however, I didn’t want a butch; that was boring. I wanted a flat-top. Uncle Dick had a flat-top, Sergeant Carter on The Gomer Pyle Show had a flat-top. A flat-top was all the rage in 1965. My dad wasn’t much for following trends, though. He was a straightforward kind of guy. No flat-top.

clippers

At that time, my brother and I were “toe-headed.” That meant we had light blonde hair. I never figured out how light blonde equated to toes, but that’s what they called it. My dad would get sometimes get busy with preacher work, and our hair would grow out some. In between cuts, it would actually get long enough to comb. I liked that because I could put a nice straight part on the left side. Sometimes, I would borrow his Vitalis to keep it looking shiny. Vitalis was a more pleasant experience than Butch Wax.

A few years later, longer hair started coming in fashion. It took a bit of doing, but I convinced my dad to let me grow my bangs out, like The Beatles and The Monkees. I combed it straight down, and the cut across had to be straight. Eventually, he would get tired of seeing my hair resting on the top of my black frame glasses, and he would get out the clippers. Back to the butch. By the time I was in seventh grade, he had agreed to let me grow out the back some. He even let it touch my ears. I guess he was getting softer with age. I had bangs and hair to the middle of my ears, and I parted it in the middle. My hair had started turning brown a year or so earlier. I was no longer toe-headed, and that was ok with me.

It wasn’t just the hair on my head daddy had been picky about. When I got curious about shaving, he showed me how, even though I didn’t have any whiskers yet. I’m not sure why, but I was fascinated with moustaches. His response was simple. “If a man has hair on his face, he has something to hide.” Moustaches and beards were a sure sign of trouble.

After Daddy died my mother had her hands full with putting food on the table and a roof over our heads. She decided to put me in charge of my own hair to lessen her load. I could finally have a hairstyle from the current decade. That’s when I found out that my hair doesn’t lay down when it gets long. It just gets…big. By the time I was in college my hair was very dark brown, almost black. I had resorted to combing it straight back, and my classmates talked about my bouffont. Others said I looked like a Civil War general. One said I reminded him of Wolfman Jack (a popular 1970s radio host). Not only had I grown my hair out, I had a full beard and moustache. I didn’t feel devious or evil at all, so I figured even dads can be wrong sometimes.

Five years later I was married and had two children, and I started seeing gray hairs. I blamed it on being a youth minister. I convinced my wife that she could start cutting my hair, so we could save money. She seemed reluctant at first, but I told her the price of my haircuts could go to her dress fund instead of the barber. She bought me a pair of clippers the next week.

By the time I was forty, I had full-blown salt and pepper. Around the same time, I tried a mullet. That was a fiasco. I also experimented with my facial hair. I would alternate between only a moustache and a full beard and moustache.  When my daughters were around five and six years old, I decided to try a clean shave again. I walked in that night after shaving to tuck them in bed and kiss them goodnight. They both immediately started crying. Apparently, I look different with a naked lip. I had to talk to them so they would know who I was. Years later, when my oldest daughter was in college, I once again tried a clean shave. I went to see her one weekend, and when she saw me, she simply turned around and started walking the other way. She was MAD! I promised not to do it again, and I haven’t.

I also started wearing a goatee at one point. I got lots of compliments on that, and I preferred those to the Santa Claus jokes I got when I had a full beard, which was also turning gray. Now, my hair and beard are almost completely white. (I finally got chest hairs, and all three of them were gray.) I still comb my hair straight back, and I’ve reverted to a semi-butch cut (minus the Butch Wax) with month-long intervals in-between trips to the barber. The instructions are the same: “Clipper cut, number three guard all over.” I’ve discovered hair dressers balk at that, but true barbers go straight to work.

When my wife lost her beautiful red hair due to chemo-therapy, I stood beside her as we clipped it close. What hair she had left was lying on the bathroom floor. She cried and I cried and we held each other for a while. She never worried about hair after that. She even took a funny bald-headed picture with her bald father and her bald uncle. Eventually, it grew back very curly and cute, and she started wearing it bobbed.

Too often we obsess over our hair. The Bible says God has the hairs of our head numbered, and a woman’s hair is her glory, and gray hair is a sign of wisdom to be respected. God cares for us as a person – black, blonde, brunette, auburn, ginger, toe-headed or snow-headed, bearded or bald – he watches over us and sustains us.

 

Published in: on September 13, 2018 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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