Once upon a time I had really long hair for a boy. I was 18, 19, and 20 during that time.
Classic rock destroyed any hope I had of being cool. An obsession with crappy mainstream rock throughout high school led me into a hopeless devotion to classic rock during my senior year. I idolized Axl Rose, which is, by any stretch of the imagination, completely embarrassing. I thought Axl was the coolest, and because of him I wanted to be in a rock band. But before any of that could take place, I had to look like him. As a result I let my hair grow out, wore leather jackets, and perched a pair of aviators over top of a bandana around my head. There is even a picture of me in my senior yearbook that captures this look. It is horrendous, and I am glad that I grew out of that phase.
(I am pretty proud of my ability to match clothes here)
But I thought it was cool then, and continued to grow my hair until just before my twentieth birthday. By that time it reached down to my nipples and had started to wave and curl in ways that didn’t know my hair could do. My hair took multiple hours to dry and I would shed like crazy, but at least I could headbang like nobody’s business! Eventually I cut it because I got a job working around industrial machinery and really, really didn’t want my hair to get sucked into metal rollers operating at high speeds.
But ever since I cut it I’ve been wondering why I let it grow out as long as it did. I can think of two main reasons, besides wanting to be a rockstar.
First, I was too lazy to maintain it. My hair has a awkward point at which a certain cowlick refuses to stay down, but once it passes that length, it is OK and I am not embarrassed about it. I hate maintaining my hair, so it has to be either really long or really short. If it is short, I can wake up and start my day - no worries. If it is long, I can wake up and throw it in a ponytail and, likewise, no worries. I don’t have to mess with blow-drying or gelling of moussing or anything. It is simple and nice.
My second reason was that I thought it made me more accessible to a certain type of people who I wouldn’t be able to talk to/ hang out with nearly as easily if I had had short hair. I thought that it would be great - that I would be able to hang out with kids who I normally wouldn’t get a chance to, like maybe some non-Christian kids who wouldn’t give clean-cut Christians the time of day. What really happened was I spent a lot of my time with long hair at a Christian college, where most everyone was already clean-cut. Nice. And ultimately the impression I think that other people got of me was that I was secretly a potheaded hippy. I did walk barefooted everywhere, but I didn’t do any drugs.
(I suppose it is easy to see where they got that from)
The long hair did afford me some fun experiences though. I had my wet hair freeze outside in an Illinois February. I went to rock clubs and headbanged like a rockstar. I went to dance clubs and had guys dance up on me, thinking I was a girl. Ok, so that wasn’t so fun, but at least my friend Danielle got a kick out of it.
Would I do it again? I don’t think so. I don’t think the benefits outweighed the hassle and false perceptions that came along with it, and, when you think about it, being clean-cut makes you more accessible to a wider range of people. Besides, now I own clippers and cut my own hair for super cheap, which is a super minimalist thing to do. I like it that way.