Have you noticed the variety of hair cuts — and lack of same — that people are sporting these days? You might see everything from waist-long manes to bald-as-a-cue ball to a mop of twisted braids and bristles that looks more like an explosion in a paint factory.
Probably the wildest hairdo I’ve seen recently was at a shopping mall when a kid walked by with an extreme version of what we used to call a “mohawk.”
He had a strip of hair standing straight up that ran from his forehead to the bottom of his neck. It had to be 12-inches or longer. If that wasn’t wild enough, it was fluorescent green – about the same color as the newer fire trucks. The rest of his head was shaven clean.
I must admit that I was guilty of staring. It wasn’t so much his hair that amazed me as the fact that he had three teenage females holding on to him as if he were a movie star.
Later as I rehashed this minor event over in my mind (as many old geezers are known to do), I couldn’t help but think back to a time when I had received my first – and only – mohawk.
It was in the late 1950s and I was working vacation jobs at the Ames Tribune. At the time, I sported one of the more startling hair cuts teenagers wore of that era – the ducktail (or DA as it was known back then).
It was a medium-length flattop, about an inch and a half long at the longest (on top), which was as close to flat as possible. The sides, however, were twice as long and were combed straight back to form the infamous ducktail. Let me tell you, it was pretty radical stuff back then..
My main problem was – like most kids today – I would sleep until the last possible moment before going to work each morning. This meant that I had little time to take care of such minor things as combing my hair. Instead of looking like a ducktail, my hair resembled more that of a shaggy dog.
Although this didn’t seem to bother most of my fellow workers, one of the newspaper’s owners would usually make a remark each morning about my appearance.
When the other workers heard him giving me trouble over my hair style, they would join in, and it soon became the subject of conversation around the office.
During my next visit to my friendly barber, I mentioned how my haircut was causing problems at work.
My barber suggested I do away with the long sides. It took only a few long swipes with his electric clipper to eliminate any problem I had with long side hair.
As I looked into the mirror, a sense of disappointment filled my soul. How could I return to work with just a flattop? It would appear as if I had given in to pressure.
The barber then came up with another suggestion: “How about a mohawk?”
I had seen plenty mohawk hair cuts in the movies, but had never considered getting one myself. The barber then added, “You might as well do it up right!” After a few more swipes with the trimmers I looked into the mirror and saw a skinny Geronimo looking back.
The next day was one of the more exciting days I’d spent at work. Instead of the usual “good morning” as I walked in, everyone just stopped and stared.
My co-workers said little. Actually, they laughed.
The owner never said much. In fact, he was unusually calm. He did request that I start wearing a hat to work and then added “Please don’t take it off when you get here.”
That was no big deal. My parents had already ordered me to wear a hat around the house!
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.