Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rogue Wave

Next to my horrific, prescription-medicated acne, my hair was my teenage self-esteem’s biggest enemy. It was parted on the left side of my head. Below the part, regular brown hair fell to my ear. Above the part, a large wave sat on the top of my head, followed by relatively normal hair on the right. Look at the button at the upper left of your keyboard, and picture the tilde punctuation mark sitting atop my dome, the right side of the wave higher than the left.

If your imagination won’t conjure that image, look at this yearbook photo from 1995.

Granted, this is not a perfect picture for examining my hair. I looked through all yearbooks as well as my personal photographs from that era, and came to the following conclusions:

1. Almost all of my pictures are from special occasions, before which I would have cut my hair short enough to limit its waviness.

2. Very few photos feature the top of my head.

3. The rise of digital photography means the average infant has more pictures of themselves than I have of my teenage years.

4. Our yearbook photographers were still learning how to use their equipment, and the lighting levels of those images were not helped by the printing process of the yearbook.

While this picture appears to show my participation in 1976 physics experiment, it’s instead an after-school Scholar’s Bowl practice circa “Wonderwall”. Focus on the light reflecting off my brown hair. You’ll see the wave atop my head.

Freshman year, In the locker room after showering, Phil loudly asked if I took a combed it normally until I reached the just above the part, and then quit. Maybe he thought that was why the wave formed; more likely, he wanted to mock me in front of the rest of our basketball team.

As much as I hated standing out because of my hair, it never occurred to me that it could be better managed through a different style. My dad’s hair had the same “problem”, and I employed an identical haircut as him, assuming he had evaluated all the possibilities before discovering this best-case scenario.

I didn’t try a different hairstyle until 1998. I was away at college, but the bold move likely had less to do with my pursuit of excellence or newfound independence, and more to do with finding a new barber. Or maybe it was because I had a campus doppelganger, and I thought that dude looked dumb, and Phil would laugh every time he saw him, which felt like Phil was mocking me on a 4-year cycle. Or maybe it was my girlfriend’s suggestion, or maybe that was the first relationship I felt could survive a botched attempt, or maybe she gave me the confidence to try it. Or maybe I realized I wasn’t attempting to retouch the Sistine Chapel so much as I was demolishing the Kingdome.

I finally entrusted some foreign lady at a mall Supercuts to rearrange it into an approximation of the late ‘90s George Clooney Roman haircut -- removing the side-part and letting it flop down my head. My girlfriend broke up with me --- but that was months later, long after she whole-heartedly approved the new style. Once a girl told me she loved it, I wasn’t going to change it again, and that’s why I still have it 14 years later, and that’s why it’ll stay this way until my wife says otherwise.


Anonymous said...

Well for what it's worth, I always thought the wave was cool. Or unique, anyway. Much more interesting than my own hair, which is painfully, unfailingly straight (except for the half-dozen cowlicks).


Nicolas Frisby said...

I anachronistically agree with Shawn. -Nick