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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's just hair.

One summer, I let my children get faux-hawks. For the unfamiliar, the faux-hawk is a classic cut involving spiky hair in a strip down the middle and buzzed sides. Because the sides aren't shaved, the style can be converted into a church-ready 'do by removing the gel. The first faux-hawks happened when the Tank was a baby. School had just let out for the summer, we didn't have a routine (like we ever had one) and it was hot as h*ll. Like any other mother in the same situation, I drove to the mall, where air-conditioning runs like mad and Starbucks is always within walking distance. After loading up on a venti-whatever-the-heck, I headed to Williams-Sonoma to see if there were any free samples. I then attempted a trip into some store or another to try on over-priced, ill-fitting clothes that wrinkled*. By that point, high as a kite on coffee and sugar, I really didn't care what we did next. I only knew I wasn't going home. Besides, the caffeine buzz was allowing me to enjoy a soundtrack that existed only in my head, mostly Violent Femmes with a little Pixies and old Liz Phair for good measure.

The children spotted a hair place. Master Cuts? Hair Cuttery? Cutz R Us? I do not recall.

"Moooooom," they salivated. "You said we could get faaauuuuux-hawks! Can we get them now? Pleaaaaaase?"

After they agreed to turn the hawks into buzz cuts if someone died, I said yes. While wacky hair is fine by God, it can be offensive to people whose loved ones have passed. Personally, I might enjoy an odd hairdo or three at a funeral, but that's just me. I turned the stroller towards the store and marched them up to the counter. I made them ask for the cuts themselves, because if you're man enough to get a faux-hawk, you're man enough to talk to the stylist. The stylist didn't quite understand. She looked at me like I was nuts. I only stepped in when it became apparent she might accidentally give them mullets. Funny story about mullets. I met someone who had trained as a stylist in a small mountain town. You may think little mountain towns are fancy, because people have cute little cabins up there where they entertain and get away from the summer heat of the city. Guess what. Real people live in those towns. Some of them are fancy. Others? Not so much.

"You know," she confided, "People really shouldn't trust me to cut their hair, because all I ever cut in school was mullets."

A trainee has to cut whatever the client wants. I had to know,

"Did they actually ask for mullets?"


Apparently, people with mullets don't even know what they have on top of their heads. MULLETS. That word makes me laugh, even just typing it. Mercy. But I digress.

After insuring my sons would not walk out with mullets, I relaxed. They were not as brave as they had pretended to be and nervously argued over who would go first. I don't remember who won or whether first or second was considered to be the winner, but by the end, they were cackling like monkeys and couldn't wait to rock the new look in public. The stylist sold them some gel (For Men, of course) and they were ready to go.

We walked through the mall and my boys, in the universal way that boys do when they feel very proud and are trying not to show it, kept their mouths closed, cramming their tongues into their cheeks to keep from grinning. We heard awe-filled whispers.

"Mom...look at those GUYS...They look AWESOME...can we please? cool...I"

The kids loved the attention and had great fun all summer, faux-hawks at the ready. The next summer, the X-man - who had been told at soccer camp he looked like a young David Beckham - wanted a buzz cut. Twelve bucks, five minutes, no maintenance for months. Loved it. His cool older brother continued to rock long, curly hair...for about three days.

"Ahhhhh..." the X-Man would sigh, tickling his nearly bald head in the one hundred degree heat. "This feels so good!"

O. might have only made it two days. He had to have that cut. Months later my brother, who buzzes his own hair, offered to re-do it and I was thrilled to save twelve dollars. Buzzing a seven-year old is harder than you might think and my brother and I now agree that the twelve dollars is well-spent.

School ended on Friday and, in preparation for the summer, the X-Man wanted to go for another faux-hawk. Fine by me. TF took him to the barber shop in Five Points, which was closed. They went to some other place, where TF asked,

"Could you please give him a faux-hawk?"

The response? "I am not giving that boy a mohawk."

TF tried to explain the difference in the two styles. The faux-hawk is really a mohawk-lite. The shop, of course, was filled with friends. Men are worse than women when it comes to socializing at the barber shop. Unlike women, who will yak for the sake of yakking, men need a purpose. Weekly haircuts give them an excuse. The men laughed. And heckled.

"Like Mr. T...bwahahaaaaaa..."

"I am NOT giving that boy a mohawk."

TF has lived in the south long enough to know when to back down and the X-Man was born knowing. He climbed up into the chair as the experienced barber promised,

"I'll make him look good."

Which he did. He made him smell good, too, like a clean-shaven older man's after-shave, which is probably exactly what he used. I don't know if there was any kind of lecture during the cut, but the X-Man had an explanation when he arrived at home sans crazy cut.

"Since I have a piano recital today, I thought a buzz cut would be more appropriate."

True, that. And he played beautifully. He also led the audience in singing The Star Spangled Banner, all four verses. Did you know it had four verses? Well, I didn't either, until I heard him practicing. He wanted to sing it in his school play, "even though it takes, like, fifteen minutes. Or twenty." Never one to discourage my children, I told him he could ask his teacher.

"Oh, I did. She said no."

Good call, although it was pretty awesome. Especially with the old-school, respectable summer haircut. He also rocked a seersucker suit. I love that kid.

Namasté, y'all!

* Is it any wonder I started an entire blog about shopping local? Our mall is so lame. So. Lame.