the sun, the moon, my mullet and me
I sat in the chair and just couldn’t take it anymore. For the last 10 years I had been getting my head buzzed, high and tight, and the thought of the trimmer once again taking away my desired appearance, the true me was too much to stomach.
When the barber, an ex-navy man in his late 60s who smelled of Aqua Velva and talcum powder, asked me if I wanted the usual I hesitated.
I could hear the other men in the shop chatting about sports and women. The low hum of the trimmer and the crisp snipping of the scissors at work.
I told him “No. Not this time.”
He gave me a quick look… sort of odd, his head tilting like a dog waiting to see what the ol’ Master has to give him from the table.
“What can I do for you then?”
I told him. I used great pains to describe it without actually using the name commonly associated with it.
I didn’t need to.
The conversations around me dried up and the scissors fell quiet.
“You want me to give you a….?” his voice faltered.
Someone sitting in the waiting area spoke up.
“I think he wants… a mullet.”
It seemed an eternity until someone spoke again. The same man from the waiting room. It was more of a hushed whisper to himself that escaped into all of our ears. “All business in the front, a party in the back.”
Damn it to hell! I’m a tall skinny man and, heaven help me, I look good in a mullet! I’m sick of denying myself just because the rest of the world seems to have a problem with the mullet.
My regular barber hesitated. He held his scissors as if they were a new invention he’d never seen before. Finally another barber came over and slapped his arm gently around his shoulders and led him to a nearby seat.
“I got this one for you Joe.”
The awkward silence continued as he went about his business. Now keep in mind the length of my hair was nowhere near where it needed to be in the back for me to claim to be ‘rocking’ this mullet but it was a start. The clippers buzzed my sides and the scissors stayed well clear of the back of my head but made short work of the top of my head. I felt the eyes upon me.
Was it envy or disgust I couldn’t quite tell. Perhaps a little of both.
I felt I had to explain.
“Gentlemen, the hairstyle that you see before you is not some ode to bad 80’s hair but a tribute to those 19th century mullet fishermen who used the length of hair in the back to keep their necks warm.”
They weren’t buying. I kept expecting them to suddenly warm up, perhaps start a slow clap that would end in uproarious applause and acceptance. No claps were forthcoming.
“Do we have any Proust fans in the room?” I ventured.
Apparently there were no big Swann’s Way devotees so my desired reference to Jean Baptiste Prosper Bressant was not going to sway anybody. I withdrew it before it was even offered.
“Then to hell with you all!” I stammered out, rising from beneath my plastic protective cover. I could feel the tiny hairs against my neck pushing me on like a 1000 little whips. “Go on then… get your hairs cut. All of them for all I care!”
I bunched up the thin sheet in my hands, the hair that formerly occupied my head now spilling out onto the floor like so many broken promises, and hurled it at Joe defiantly.
“Don’t judge me old man.”
I thrust a $20 at the only man brave enough to give me a mullet and stormed out.
The moon was out but the sun hadn’t yet gone down. Sitting in my car collecting my thoughts I swear it felt like it was just the 4 of us left in that ol’ town.
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