The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Almost cut my hair today

Yes, David Crosby sang that line back in the early 70's. It was released on the Déjà Vu album along with Woodstock, Teach Your Children and Our House, a personal favorite. I'd like to sing that lyric right now, but unfortunately my hairdresser of the past three years recently gave up her trade. So my hair is simply going to grow longer by default for now.

I'm not good with change. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite adaptable when I need to be, but making adjustments to my habits and rituals is another story. My daughters presented me with a beautiful Coach purse for Christmas. Though it was a nice gesture, but the underlying motivation was their embarrassment over my five-year-old, ten-dollar model. It was a steal I found during the "Final Store Closing" sale at the Fashion Bug in Rutland. Right now you may be thinking you don't remember a Fashion Bug in Rutland and that is exactly the point. My girls said, "Mom, you have a high-class downtown job now, it's time for an uptown purse."

If you think changing pocketbooks is difficult for me, you can imagine the trauma inflicted at having to find a new hair stylist. When Ryenna was on a three-month medical leave last year, I went for four months without a cut (I was due for one just when she took leave, hence the added 30 days). When she finally sent the text to all her customers notifying us she would be back in business in two weeks, I was the first to reply and the first with an appointment. The others had simply gone to someone else in the interim. Not me - I was so overdue she barely knew where to start. It was like trying to forge the clippers into the overgrown hedges and give them some shape.

Hair was so easy as a kid. Boys all went with dad to the barbershop for the traditional buzz cut. The trick was to get the cut as close as possible without actually being bald. The shorter the cut, the longer the time period before the clan needed to return to the barbershop. It was about finances, not style.

Girls either had long hair that was kept meticulously in a ponytail or braids. Girls like me, whose moms didn't have the time to do our hair each morning, got the pixie cut. All it took was a little brushing in the morning and you were good to go. I hated my pixie cut.

I didn't really have any hair coiffing role models as a kid. I spent a good deal of time with my grandmother and I do not recall her hair being anything but gray and thin. She would wash it in the kitchen sink and roll it into little pin curls. My aunts were of that generation that went to the beauty parlor once a week for a shampoo and set. Each day they would touch it up and give it a good spraying of Aqua Net. By the end of the week, it was like set cement.

Once I reached the age of reason, which I believe coincided with making my Confirmation, I was entrusted to style my own hair and given permission to let it grow out. Like every other brunette girl in the late 60's and early 70's, I grew it long and parted it down the middle. There was no need to go to a salon for a cut. All you needed was a friend with a pair of scissors and an eye for a straight line. You also needed the aid of a friend when you squatted next to the ironing board to straighten it. I still have burn scars from the nights I attempted it single-handed.

Around this same period, boys started growing their hair long too. It coincided with the British invasion. Preppy boys still kept their hair short, a rule of the coaches of various school sporting teams. The leather-jacket wearing guys, affectionately referred to as "the hoods", allowed for a little length accompanied by facial hair and long sideburns. The musicians and other artistic types went shoulder-length and longer. I really didn't want to date boys whose hair was longer, and sometimes shinier, than mine. But I broke that rule for a short fling with Billy Hickman just because he was so cute.

The Boomer generation was defined by its hair. Heck, there was an entire Broadway musical written about it. The Flower Children. We were making a statement, but our parents and other authority figures were suspicious of our motives. Lyrics like this explained it (ok trivia fans, who sang this?)

And the sign said "Long-haired freaky people need not apply."
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why.
He said "You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do."
So I took off my hat, I said "Imagine that. Huh! Me workin' for you!"

My hair no longer defines me, though I still summon that "can't tell me what to do" attitude when someone suggests I am too old to grow my hair long again. Hmmm, at the moment I don't think I have any other choice. (PS - It was Five Man Electrical Band).

Cindy Phillips is a columist for The Mountain Times, she can be contacted at