Get a haircut, hippie!

So, um, the pony tail is gone. After 30 years of long hair, it is now the shortest it’s been since I was an infant. I love it. And it was time.

Me with short hair, front view.
Me with short hair, side view.

In the first photo I totally look like my dad with some genes from my mom’s side of the family. From the side I look like my brother.

I also had a beard from age 19 to age 39, which I had to shave off for radiation in 2010. I’ve loved being clean shaven ever since, and I strongly suspect that I will have no regrets about this move either. Some people change their look every couple months. Apparently when I do, it’s a Life Event.

This is not exactly a Covid cuts story, though.

Every spring, for the past few years, I would ask Carrie if it’s time to cut it, and every spring, Carrie says no. We had a deal: when it started to look bad, it would go. And it would go in spring so I could enjoy a full summer with short hair. But I think Carrie was pretty attached since she never knew me with short hair. So every spring she said “not yet,” until spring 2019, when she said “maybe next year.” But this spring, she still didn’t make the call.

In the end, the turning point for me was The Drugs. One of the side effects of Lenvima is thinning hair, and my hair has been getting thinner and finer for the last year or so. It’s not like chemo where it just falls out, but this summer has been some kind of tipping point where I really started to notice after 16 months on the drug. My pony tail no longer filled out the barrette, which meant it slipped around, which I did not find to be a pleasant feeling. Suddenly, long hair started to feel more like an annoyance than a decoration. I was ready. Plus, on Zoom calls I already look bald. You can’t see what’s in back anyway.

It being Covid time, we decided to do it at home. I asked a few male friends how they did it and what they did. I ordered a clipper a couple weeks ago. Finally, last night after dinner, we sat down on the couch with Carrie’s computer to watch hair cutting videos. After a couple more generic videos, I asked for a search for “home hair cut balding men” since I wanted some ideas for the horseshoe that would replace the pony. The third one in was “three essential tips” or something like that and we thought it was going to be hair cutting tips, but it was about Being A Confident Man and What Women Like. I joked that she was going to start getting served Jordan Peterson videos.

Finally, Carrie asked — a few times and different ways — if I was ready. I suspect I was considerably more ready than her. But then, she was the one who was going to actually cut it and look at the result all day, and despite being together for over 30 years, she has never known me without long hair. I thanked my pony tail for its service, Carrie took a final photo of the back of my head, and then we did the haircut, checking regularly in the mirror at each length to see what my ideal length would be.

last photo of my pony tail.  You can see the clip sliding down.

I had decided I wanted some hair, rather than the full shaved head look, so we had to figure out a plausible length. I like the result. I am surprised at how little grey there is outside the temples. I’m sure that will change with time (and I absolutely do not mind) but I was expecting more.

When we were done I handed her my barrette and said, “I bequeath this to you”–along with most of my other hair care supplies. Right now, her hair is longer than I’ve ever seen it, so she’s already been swiping my barrettes. (It started out as just “drummer hair” and then kept going.)

There’s only one issue. I somehow look more like a dude now. The pony femmed me up a little, which it an important part of my self-presentation and frankly my self concept (to say I have an ambivalent relationship to cis-heterosexual-masculinity would be an understatement). Happily, gender nonconformity has come a long way in the last 30 years, so I’ve got lots of options to experiment with. For now, I am digging the nail polish, which also has the functional advantage of protecting the fingernails on my right hand for strumming.

My fingernails, painted pink.  I need to work on avoiding my cuticles with the brush.

Oh, and when I put on a shirt, I have a reflex to pull my hair out of the collar. That’ll go away on its own….

I started growing my hair out in high school, and apart from one unfortunate cut right before graduation, where the barber took off a lot more than I asked him to, it has grown out ever since. There were occasional trims and shapes at Curl Up & Dye in Minneapolis, and later Carrie would occasionally just trim off the ends with a hair scissor.

I am not sure the original motivation, though it was a thing among some of my friends, and I watched many male musicians with long hair so it seemed normal. It just became part of “my look.” And it was the one part of my look that consistently drew compliments from strangers, which is not a small thing for a fat person in our culture.

Still, in my 20s I was more than once heard to remark that “I don’t want to be a 40-something professor with hair down to my ass.” In the end, only reason that didn’t happen is male pattern baldness.