March 1st, 2021

Hair today, gone tomorrow

By Lethbridge Herald on February 20, 2021.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
I well remember the 1960s and 1970s when long hair was a symbol of defiance against society’s norms. From The Beatles when they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show to the era of Woodstock, long hair is something I’ve always had an affinity for.
Maybe it’s the sense of rebellion or the fact I just like the look, for most of my life I’ve preferred growing it out. And to this day, I enjoy rattling the chains of those who feel it’s unprofessional or childish or slovenly.
I would imagine these same people would have chastised Jesus if the artistic renderings made of him have the slightest bit of reality to them. And that’s because humans can be horribly judgmental of, and demeaning towards, those who look different.
In the 1980s along with spandex, long hair became a staple of a sub-genre of rock, known now as hair metal. The term is an insulting one which overlooks the quality of the music and the talent of those who performed it.
For some, long hair never went out of style, not only for those who fondly remember the 1980s but also for guys who grew up in the era of flower power in the mid 1960s. In high school I grew it long and on a class trip to France, a guide at the Chartres cathedral used me as an illustration of the devil in one of the stained glass windows there. A few days later, a group of female classmates sat me and the late Greg Baker down in chairs in a hallway of a hotel and clipped us both.
Many have told me — and still often do — I look like crap with long hair; I generally ignore them because we all have to be comfortable in our own skin. I’m sure if I was transitioning — which I’m not unless it’s to a couch potato — the callousness of others would be subdued, although undoubtedly still present. Because that’s the way some people can be.
But I do have to laugh when I think how a neighbour told me justifiably recently after I walked outside with no teeth and the unshowered locks flowing, that I looked like I woke up in a ditch. She was definitely right.
For the last two years I’ve been growing out my hair, being one of the few guys I hang around with who still has any at my age. The plan was to get — as a joke — a man perm on my 60th birthday but my friendly hairdresser put a kibosh on that idea. No way she was doing it. So I’ve let it grow since then with the occasional trim. When I was on work hiatus for six months, nobody saw me anyway except at the dog park and with the necessity to wear a mask in public, no one recognized me so I let the hair down without any fear of insults being hurled my way.
As last year progressed and this year started, I started wearing the hair in a ponytail in public to keep it somewhat harnessed. From the front, nobody could tell the hair was flowing partway down my back.
Recently however, I began having issues with the hair — I would wake up with it stuck in my teeth, it was clogging the drain every time I showered and occasionally it even ended up in meals I was cooking. Like a little soup with your hair? No thanks, it’s not that pleasant.
So recently I began toying with the previously unthinkable idea of having it cut. It was a tough decision to make after two years of letting it grow so long I could tie a bow with it under my neck, which is actually kind of a cool thing to see.
But part of me wanted to remain defiant of the judgmental and I put it off until this week when I got tired of flossing my teeth with hair. The time had come to say goodbye so I went to a downtown hairdresser across the street from The Herald named Shirley, who just happens to be my pal Blake Tamayose’s mother-in-law and told her to go to town on it.
Poor Shirley, as if things weren’t tough enough with the cold weather, the pandemic and some of her clients’ fear of downtown, she had to see my greying mess on a cold winter’s day.
But she gamely grabbed the scissors and started cutting, the aftermath looking like a sasquatch had been shorn on her floor. It was an impressive pile, I have to admit. Two years of growth landed on the floor in 10 minutes.
And the result? Well, I now look like everyone else, which some will say is a good thing. But my neck is freezing. At least, though, I won’t wake up with grey strands in my teeth tomorrow.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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