Anatomy Of A Bad Haircut

Anatomy Of A Bad Haircut

By Chris Churchill

I was waiting in the 15-items-or-less line at (da) Jewel(s) on a particularly busy afternoon. I won’t tell you which location because I don’t want to call anyone out, specifically. Because I’m about to talk about someone’s hair. It's already not a nice thing to do and it's, admittedly, pretty petty and shallow, but this isn't meant as a 900-word. It's meant as a thoughtful analysis, or, to put myself right up there with Einstein (who also had awesome hair), a thought experiment. Doing social science in the 15-items-or-less. I had enough time waiting in line to fixate on the horrible hair of one of the cashiers. 

Let me describe it to you:
It wasn’t good. 
More detail? 
OK.

 Would you like any bags, today?

Would you like any bags, today?

He was an older gentleman, maybe in his fifties. His hair was stringy, just longer than shoulder length. But he was actually bald and gray. I mean, his stringy long hair was a combover. And it was also very obviously and badly dyed. Two comparisons jumped to mind. The Cryptkeeper from Tales From The Crypt and Rif Raf from The Rocky Horror Picture Show except with dark brown hair. 

I hope you can’t identify this guy from my description. I’m sure he’s a lovely fellow (which is what you should say about someone you don’t know). I’m not just telling you about his hair to feel superior. There, but for the grace of God and the lack of an intelligent and stylish woman in my life, go I. I’m no GQ model myself by the way. I don’t even have all my testicles. I promise I’m not punching down. 

 I have no issues at all.

I have no issues at all.

It’s just that seeing a hairdo so strange, so unapologetically peculiar out in public made me wonder what series of events led his hairdo to this default setting. So, because I make up wild theories and belabor metaphors habitually to keep me from focusing on loneliness, boredom, desperation or sadness, I overthought the hairdo. 

Here’s what I came up with. 

1. Rebellion against peculiar things. The length of his hair at his advanced age is obviously a vestige of an earlier rebellion in his personal development. I mean respectable society obviously expects a short, well-managed hairdo. At some point in this man’s life, there was an abuse, either once or repeated times, a traumatic event or a serious lacking in some aspect of his becoming an adult. Maybe all three. Maybe he was frightened by a newscaster in the 1980s with his hair sprayed helmet of hair. Or more likely, he was warned not to trust that newscaster or anyone with short hair, for that matter, because they are rich, they look down on the poor and you just can’t trust them. 

Or:

Maybe his father only bonded with him through their Bachman Turner Overdrive albums. And then Dad said, “I’m going out for bread,” got drunk and hit a telephone pole. Whatever it was, someone very important to him either bonded him into long hair or scared him away from short hair on a profound, self-image-deep level. 

There's also the issue of combover. The bad combover comes from: 

2. Rebellion against his physical limitations. Time has moved on but he has not. There was a time in his life where he was happiest but he that he left prematurely, against his will before he was ready. As some therapists might say, he never mastered that part of his life, so he relives it, subconsciously, seeking to master it. So he clings to his idea of what he looked like then. He had all his hair then. He was young. The combover allows him to imagine he’s still there and try to master the things he didn’t master then, or better still, to master the things that mastered him. Maybe he was in a band. Or he had a great group of friends at that time in his life. Regardless of what it was, he’s stuck there. 

But surely, he knows that he looks ridiculous.

 Overthinking a strangers hairdo...

Overthinking a strangers hairdo...

 No he doesn’t. Why? The answer is in #3. 

3. Denial about normal things such as where you’re from, what year it is, etc. To repeat myself for a slightly different purpose: People get stuck in different developmental stages all the time. Just think of the 40-year-old-guy who still salivates over teenage girls. Besides being creepy and dangerous, he’s also trapped in a stage of life that he didn’t master. Or the 50-year-old lady who came, by herself, to the One Direction concert (back when that was a thing). Same thing. Mr. Bad Haircut is stuck. He never successfully left behind those years and this haircut existed at that time. 

4. Mixed messaging. He also thinks he’s sending a different message with his personal style than he is. We all perform our identity whether we mean to or not, with our hair, clothes, car,  lack thereof and so on. Mr. Bad Haircut is telling us who he is with his hairdo. Maybe he can only imagine himself as the type of guy he identifies with this hairdo. The music, the movies, the socioeconomic status, all detailed in the performance of his identity via his hair. 

So, all in all, what does this say about him? It’s debatable, of course (that's really the point, anyway), so I’d love to hear the debate. I feel like I nailed it. Like all it took was to tease it out. But it probably says more about me and what I never mastered. (So rinse it out of your mind.) My current obsession with figuring myself, and as a result, other people out with the help of education and therapy. I’m not gonna say my only tool is a hammer but I sure keep pounding.

But then again, I could be right. This hammer head of mine has got to be good for something.

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