The 1960s was a time of hair, long beautiful hair. Flowing, glowing hair.
Such was the attitude after a rock group called The Beatles took the country, the world, by storm with their mop-top hair styles that later reached their collars and beyond. It inspired songs, new looks and even a Broadway musical by that name which at one point had men and women running around the stage wearing nothing but their hair.
The mania spread even to the nation’s smallest cities and towns where young men tested the rules and the limits. Bangs across the forehead could only be so long. We tested those limits to the milliliter.
In the Morrison household, my brother, Steve and I, pushed the limits just like everyone. Dad and Mom never said a word. Going to the barber less often saved money, and money was always a concern – especially for Mom as she struggled to feed a hungry family and keep the utilities on.
One night, one of those commercials came on about a money saving device. You know, devices like “vegamatic” that slices and dices and and saves money.
However, this device struck fear into the hearts of young men with beautiful heads of hair everywhere. It seems today like something from the minds of Stephen King or Peter Straub.
These were very special hair clippers because you need not attend barber school to produce an expertly clipped head of hair. It had an attachment that adjusted the length.
Why, anyone could do it.
She wrote down the address, sent in the money and waited to begin saving money.
One day it arrived.
Mom read the instructions and waited for Saturday.
Steve – two years my senior– had a wonderful head of hair that year. Mine wasn’t bad but his was very well grown and trimmed.
Mom called for him.
“Mom, please. I don’t want to.”
The protests continued until Dad, seated at the kitchen table drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette, finally ended the discussions. No option existed.
Steve settled into the chair with an unhappy look on his face.
What happened next was a greater horror than anything Freddie Kruger ever did. Rather than the smooth, professional trim promised on television, Steve’s hair came out in clumps.
Maybe Mom could have marketed it as the “hillbilly” look.
For Steve, the only good thing was that school photos had already been taken so he would look good in the yearbook. The bad thing – the rest of the school year. All he could do is wait for it to grow back.
As far as myself, sometimes there’s an advantage to being the second born son and the third child.
I smiled as I watched the keystone cops dashing around the television screen in some of the best comedy routines of my lifetime.
Sometimes it’s a good thing being third in line.