During the remainder of this summer, I will be posting in this blog on an irregular basis as, like my dear and faithful readers, I take some time to enjoy the creation and be with family. I thank all of those who have been regular readers, and wish you all a time of rest and renewal over the next 6-8 weeks. I look forward to keeping things alive from time to time with occasional reflections which readers may find of interest.
Comments and communication are always welcome.
Below I offer something a little different from the usual subjects this blog has focused on over the last two years or so.
There’s no accounting for taste. One of the odd things I can’t account for in that department is how so many guys of my generation sport long, gray hair, usually tied back in a pony-tail.
Once upon a time I had very long hair that obligingly went seriously Afro the longer it got. Now that was cool! Some girls liked it too! In the late sixties and early seventies hair was ‘a thing’. It was a sign of coolness, with-it-ness, grooviness. It was a pledge that we could “stand up against the Establishment”. Lots of bosses didn’t like it. Lots of teachers didn’t like it (until some of them began getting cool too). The Rock-Opera Hair was our anthem.
Finally, a few progressive college and university profs started growing their hair long and not trimming their beards in the proper Van Dyke, professorial way. Then the Queen received the icons of hair, the Beatles, and knighted them! So it had to be OK.
For my part I lived in two semi-communes, became a serious (but never famous) rock musician for a while, wrote poetry and anti-the-Man rants, and thought I was extra-cool for being ‘more real’—at least more than most people I knew, or so I thought.
But other than the hair (not too long, eh?) blue-jeans, tie-dyed T-shirts, maybe smoking a joint to try it out, and vaunting sexual liberation—usually claiming a lot more than you did—underneath the pseudo-hippy front most of us were pretty conventional. When it came down to it, we didn’t or even want to live in a commune, go vegan, march in peace and protest rallies (although maybe that was another dabble-point), go to Woodstock (I almost did) or Monterey, move to Height-Ashbury, or give up working for a living.
For most of us, the hair and some typically ‘unconventional’ clothing choices were the real extent of our rebellion against ‘the Man’.
Almost all of us faded out of ‘the scene’ by the mid-seventies. There’s only so long you can live on peanuts and beer, claim you’re cool while being pretty much normal, seek ‘free love’ with a dwindling field of willing partners, and pretend you don’t have to work because it’s so ‘bourgeois’. Eventually one person becomes extra-special and you realize you need a real relationship not based on libido alone. You get a ‘real job’, settle down, start a family, and-presto!-before you know it, you become ‘the Establishment’. Except you still like your rock, folk, or other music, maybe you still have a joint now and then, and once in a while do a few quirky things that remind you of ‘the old days’.
Then, sort of suddenly, you arrive at (horrible cliché and atrocious euphemism) ‘the Golden Years’! Congratulations! You can retire and enjoy the wonderful freedom to …?
Hmm. It all went by so fast, didn’t it! Am I really that old? Did I really vault from those heady years of showing how cool and free I was to this? Wow!
We sixty-and-seventy-somethings once thought we would really change the world—even, maybe, inaugurate a new era of peace and universal good will. (John Lennon: “All we are saying is give peace a chance!” The Beatles: “All you need is love!” Cat Stevens: “Everyone hop on the peace train!”) Can I still show that the old dream is not all gone, that I was once one of those ‘screw-the-Establishment’ chanters, and was once a ‘for-real’ free spirit peacenik?
Hence the hair. It’s one thing I can still control, eh? Let it grow and screw what people think—like when I was the young rebel. So what if it doesn’t look like it used to! I can still do it! And so, here we are, with long, grey, stringy, straggly mops pulled back in the signature pony-tail. Oh, and the old beard back too, if I can still grow a real one. I don’t have to trim it to look right for the boss anymore! And no more need to impress the chicks (most of whom never really liked the long mops and straggly moustaches and beards even back then, even if they didn’t want to tell you).
Yes, I know that there is a newish beard-thing with some of the Millennials and Gen-Z guys. But, hello! We’re not them! It’s their thing.
Remember how you had to trim it all back when you decided she was the one and you had to get to know her family? Ha! If you’re still fortunate enough to be with the same great girl after all this time (yeah for me!), I would guess you are not one of the guys with the new-old straggly look. If you are and are still with that great babe, I guess there’s no accounting for taste. (Or maybe it’s just resignation or tolerating the old fart’s boyish delusions!) But, if your great romance is a closed chapter, I guess you can revert and get away with it. Probably not too much happening with the ladies, eh?
Of course, you’re perfectly entitled to wear your hair however you like. And some can pull it off and still look good, even as a ‘Senior’. I even know one or two guys like that, and good on them! But if you’re not one of that elite group because your hair is gone thin and stringy and your beard is a mass of grey fuzz that gets into your food and leaves strands on your clothes, well, maybe it’s time to move on.