Geek Confessional: The Hair

For most of my life, I’ve had the same basic hairstyle. It’s simple and doesn’t require any product to maintain. Even as my hairs have abandoned ship over the past few years, I’ve kept the same cut. I did try to part it on the other side once many years ago and, I kid you not, the stylist and I watched in amazement as their hair readjusted itself to the way it should be.

I’m not saying this to complain. I like my hair this way. I have no plans to change anytime soon.

But that wasn’t always true.

Let me take you back to the late ’80s, early ’90s, when I was in high school. Yes, I’m old. That’s just the way it is. At any rate, back during those halcyon days, the popular guys at my school started having the same haircut. Basically, they grew out the back of their hair so it was about shoulder length and then most of them would get the tail end permed. It was the same basic hairstyle, repeated on a lot of guys.

Now normally, I wouldn’t have noticed. I’m fairly obtuse when it comes to fashions and trends and all that, and that was especially true during my younger years. To put it bluntly, I was stylistically-impaired. Not a big deal, I suppose.

But halfway through my junior year, something clicked for me. I noticed the trend. And I decided I wanted in.

Don’t ask me why. Like I said, I was usually content to march to my own drum. T-shirts with obnoxiously over-the-top Christian messages, that sort of thing. But suddenly, I wanted to blend in a little more. I wanted to fit in. And for whatever reason, I chose the hair as an entry point.

So I spent several weeks growing out the back of my hair. When it finally got long enough, my cousin did the dirty work of applying the perm. And viola! John had a new hairstyle.

Funny thing, though, it didn’t change much. I still didn’t fit in socially. I was still the nerdy outsider. Having the same hairstyle did little to change that. Now I didn’t realize that at the time. I kept with that particular style for close to a year. Eventually, though, I realized that maintaining the look was too much work. I had to have regular perms to keep the back looking the right way, and there were extra steps in getting ready in the morning.

Making matters worse was the fact that I had jumped onto the bandwagon as the style in question was on its way out. Slowly but surely, the popular guys at school were abandoning that particular look. I, in my relative cluelessness about all things fashionable, didn’t notice the trend and so I wound up looking like some johnny-come-lately.

Halfway through my senior year, I decided that enough was enough. I trimmed my hair so that it was its usual length and never looked back. The only significant change that I’ve made since then is my facial hair, and that’s not going anywhere, thank you very much.

Now I didn’t think much of this for a long time until I brought a girlfriend (now my wife) home to meet the family. As we were going through my parents’ house, she spotted one of my senior pictures. She stopped, stared at it for a long time, then turned to me, amusement gleaming in her eyes, and asked, “Why did you have a mullet?”

What? A mullet? No, I didn’t have one of those! No way! It wasn’t…I couldn’t have…

Except she was right, boys and girls. I had a mullet, big as all outdoors, and I never realized it.

She brings it up still, from time to time. As a matter of fact, she carries one of my senior pictures in her wallet to this day. But I learned a valuable lesson: don’t go chasing fashion. In all likelihood, you won’t be on the cutting edge and you’ll only wind up looking ridiculous years later.

But I know, I know. Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Fair enough.

the shame

Ugh. What was I thinking? Oh, wait. I wasn’t.

Now that I’ve shared, I want to know about you. Have you ever tried to jump onto a bandwagon on the tail end of a trend? What fashion faux pas have you come to regret? Let me know in the comments below.

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