Growing up in a military family, being one of six boys, finances were always tight. Mom and Dad did what they could to squeeze every nickel, ensuring we always had what we needed. One of the ways Dad saved a few dollars each month was to cut our hair himself.
When I was very young, Mom tended to pile my hair up on top of my head and everyone thought it was cute. In those days I didn't care but those days didn't last. Eventually, I outgrew that and was glad to climb up onto Dad's hair stool to get my hair cut like a big boy.
I understood and, since Dad was pretty good at cutting hair, it wasn't too bad. However, growing up in the 60s and 70s, his military style cut was not what I wanted. Many of my friends, and definitely all the cool kids, were sporting long hair. That's what I wanted too. Until I was a teenager, my protests were few and carried little weight any way. After that, my sense of independence and willingness to risk a bit more, I became a little more insistent.
Getting past Dad's perspective that only girls had long hair, was no easy feat but, little by little, one hair width at a time, I was able to let my hair grow a bit more between cuts.
One thing that helped was when I started going to a stylist to have my locks tidied up but that was expensive and I was tight with my money. I worked hard to earn it and letting any go was a big deal, painful at times. Dad's cuts were free but they ended up on the short side.
Now, another issue I had was the curls I was cursed with. They were often swooned over by women and girls, 'oh, I wish had curls like yours', but to me they were awful. With my hair being thick and curly, it was also unruly, never laying the way I wanted it to. More, sticking out from my head.
I learned, however, if I washed my hair in the morning, it would lay pretty good at least until the end of the school day. Trouble was, that meant getting up earlier than I liked. Fighting for bathroom time in a one-bathroom house with eight residents, you had to get up way too early. I showered at night, leaving me to deal with bed head all day. If only I could figure out a way to keep my hair straight through the night, my life would be perfect...or a little closer to it.
Then I had a brainstorm. If I washed my hair before bed and then wrapped my head in a tensor bandage, it would be flat and straight in the morning. Since I was active with the Boy Scouts, always taking first aid courses, tensor bandages were easy to get. I even upset my older brother with this practice. He came home from a long trip to Vancouver, arriving after I went to bed. When he peeked in on me he saw my head wrapped in a bandage, not realizing it was my hair styling method rather than an injury.
Well, I had found a way to straighten my hair, mostly, but my life didn't become perfect. It didn't seem to make much of a difference at all. I was still one of the geeky guys and my parents commented on my hair length with great frequency. When I decided to join the military, Dad said that those who went to boot camp with shorter hair, tended to get less drastic haircuts at their first trimming....he lied.
The next twenty six years of my life I had little say over my hair length. Since retirement I have experimented with various lengths, from full bald to long enough to donate. My latest has been about eighteen months without a cut and it is getting pretty long. It is still quite thick and curly, sticking out in an unruly mop if I don't pull it back into a pony tail. That was something I would never had dared do as a teen. A boy with a pony tail would be marked for certain. Now its pretty normal. Some thing change, some things don't. I still get razzed about my hair, but now it's my wife, not my parents. Maybe there's a bit of comfort in that.
Did you have any fashion rebellions when you were cutting those apron strings? How stodgy were your parents to new trends and styles? How did you manager to get your way?
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