Hoping to stand out in elementary school, Mike wants to sport a longer, cooler hair style, much to his mother’s chagrin. But in middle school – when boys are suddenly bigger than him and high school is about nothing but sex – all he wants to do is become invisible.
The opening to “Boys:”
From my desk in the front row, I gazed over my shoulder to the back of the classroom. I was right. Steve Sauter, David Marshall, John Ludwig – even scruffy-haired Bobby Bonecutter – all had longer hair than me. They were popular in class (or could be if it weren’t for some personality disorders at least one of them had). I dreamed of having longer hair like them, knowing it would help me stand out from other boys at school so that, of course, I might be liked by more girls. Strangely, to stand out to girls meant I had to know boys better. Observing boys of all ages – in essence, my competition – seemed the best way to evaluate myself and understand where I stood in the relative pecking order at school.
However, my biggest foe these days wasn’t in the classroom, but at home. Mom, the self-appointed barber of the family, had been performing haircuts on Don, Doug and me for years. My brothers never seemed to mind the crew cuts, but I hated them, and often counted the days before my next scheduled chop job. Mom probably counted the days, too, but in great anticipation.
She’d scheduled a cut for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but forgot to do it because of the holiday commotion going on in the house. When the Christmas and New Year’s festivities distracted her, I managed to make it all the way into 1964 without being shorn. But with each passing day in January, I worried when the moment was going to come, the big announcement, the dreaded words, “Michael! It’s time for your haircut. And I mean right now.”
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Photo credit above: Paul Kane