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KONK REACTOR column
[Published in the KONK Life newspaper on March 15, 2012.]
Hair Yesterday, Gone Today
My recent columns have been pretty serious, so let’s get trivial for a change….
For over 40 years David Crosby’s been singing about “letting my freak flag fly” in his CSNY anthem Almost Cut My Hair. And other than my Army years and my early days at IBM, I’ve pretty much followed that philosophy (to varying extremes). I’ve always proudly identified with the Freaks – and the Geeks, the Nerds, the Hippies and even (curiously enough) the Jocks -– all of which reflect my characteristics. I can honestly say that these associations have never held me back to any noticeable extent.
Now the LADIES may disagree with that – it seems that most of them aren’t fans of long hair on the guys. I first met Maria during my early IBM days when the company was still stuffy enough to discourage long hair on us male worker bees. Later, when IBM lightened up –after I’d married Maria — I let my “freak flag fly” again. Unfortunately Maria (like probably most of the ladies I’ve known) wasn’t especially enamored of it. Indeed it occasionally became a big issue – usually after we watched a show where the guy makes a big point about how he can’t do anything that the wife doesn’t like. (Damn those Hollywood writers…..) But I’m a FREAK, and 99% of the time the wife DOES get what she wants — so I continued to fly the flag.
Last year, with hair down to my butt from a 10 year haircut hiatus, I started thinking non-freaky thoughts about maybe doing something different. But I decided to put off a decision until after a big California reunion with my big gang of hippy dippy Neil Young fan Rustie friends (where we all heard Neil debut his own version of “Smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now….”) In the afterglow of that wondrous event, I decided that it was time to lighten up my life. The flag would be lowered, even though the freak would remain standing.
As long as I’ve been around Key West there has been an old-fashioned Floyd’s Barber Shop in Bahama Village. It actually pre-dates the one in Mayberry. I always imagined that if I’d ever get my hair cut, that’d be the place. Though I’d never been in there, I pictured it as something like Ice Cube’s shop in that movie, and felt it’d be a great place to hang out for a bit every month or so. But alas, Floyd Sweeting – a pillar of the Bahama Village community – passed away earlier last year and the shop has closed. One of those regretful missed opportunities in this ever-changing town.
So I went with the newer place down the block between my house and the Green Parrot: The Bobby Shop. Though it’s a recent addition to our landscape, it’s got the look and feel of a 1950s barbershop: barber pole, old-fashioned chairs, Elvis and Marilyn posters, etc. The owner, Bobby Donahue, is a former star Chippendale performer who decided to settle down in Key West. I pass by it every day, so I decided to drop in there to do the deed.
Felt a bit weird being in a barbershop for the first time since around the turn of the century. A quick snip removed about 20 inches of the Freak Flag and there was no looking back……
I do find that I’m enjoying the simplicity of the short ‘do. It’s also ego-boosting to have every female acquaintance I encounter tell me how much younger it makes me look. It’s funny how I sometimes walk past people (who I’ve known for a good while) who do a double-take after they first fail to recognize my new look. I could say it’s kinda freaky…
I’m STILL running into people who haven’t seen it this way and seem to be amazed about it. My standard response is “…have to do that every ten years or so….” When Maria hears me say that she warily asks if I’m planning to raise the freak flag again…. I doubt it.
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