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A hair-raising ordeal

February 19, 2012
By KELLY VAN DE WALLE ( , Times-Republican

Frequent readers are aware that I know very little about hair. And fashion. And style. And other Earth things. I fret over these things constantly because I feel as though if I don't, then I'll embarrass myself in public, though that generally happens anyway. If given the option I would just sit naked in a cave growing the patchiest, most ridiculous beard ever. Of course I'd probably then be ridiculed by bears and forced to hang out with platypuses or something.

The trouble with my hair began early. Unbeknownst to me, my mother apparently was moonlighting as a barber even though I never saw a single certificate or diploma on the wall. Perhaps when she went to school the framed goose-looking-over-girl-in-bonnet embroidery passed as some kind of official cosmetological documentation. I'm sure in my four-year-old brain this was more than a little disconcerting, and as such I can be forgiven for my hesitation/violent arm-flailing resistance.

Judging by several photographs, she would've had an easier time trying to shear a rabid Tasmanian devil than the screaming, squirming ball of fury that refused to sit still for the ordeal. If anyone would've walked in during this event it would've appeared as though I was undergoing some kind of interrogation at the hands of the worst ever Jack Bauer impersonator.

To be quite honest, I think there needs to be at least a two-year waiting period in order to purchase scissors. They may not be as lethal as a handgun, but uneven sideburns can fatally wound a young boy's ego.

When I was strong enough to finally fend her off, I managed to scrape together enough scratch (why don't we say "scratch" anymore?) to have my hair styled. There was no "trial-and-error", no "well, let's look in some books." Oh no. That would've made far too much sense. Instead I decided to give the good folks at "Hacker Sally's $4 Haircut House of Stylez" free reign over my head. Then, no matter how it ended up, that would be my "look" throughout high school. How could I go wrong? These people were professionals! They had combs floating in colored liquid!

And that's how I ended up with a hairstyle that looked like two dead bats were hanging upside down from my head. For four years.

Flash-forward several years, my girlfriend began pining over a particular actor with a buzzed haircut. Being a guy not prone to overreaction, I calmly said to myself, "She will leave me for him!" and then shaved my head. This is not recommended unless you've wondered about the shape of your skull. I quickly realized I have a head reminiscent of Charlie Brown, which I found appropriate as the cut of my hair for the next year was "Ug."

When I turned 30, I decided I needed a new "look", whatever this meant. Possibly a new face. Eventually I decided to let my hair grow out, because my suggestion of getting a tattoo of Abraham Lincoln perched with a sword atop a mythical griffin on my neck was vetoed at the highest level.

I figured the only thing that was required in this case was laziness, which was something I felt I had the right amount of experience to handle. Little did I realize that not doing something could turn into so much work. It was like having your parents go out of town for the weekend and giving the kids the freedom to do whatever they wanted.

Me: "OK, hair. I'm going to let you do whatever you want for the next six months. We're not going to have any problems, are we?"

Hair: "Of course not. We'll just get longer and style ourselves perfectly as we await your orders."

Me: "OK, good. I'm counting on you."

[a minute later]

Hair: "Wheeeeeeee!"

[sound of everything you own smashing into smithereens]

Unfortunately no matter how good of a job the barber (I refuse to call the person that cuts my hair a "stylist") does, I'm always amazed I don't look EXACTLY like the Internet celebrity photo I smuggled in. In the back of my mind I strongly believe that Great Clips has the technology to not only re-shape my hair, but also re-arrange my facial features while making me taller and more muscular.

"So what do you think?" the barber lady who is not a stylist says as she wheels me around to see myself.

"Looks great!" I'll lie, silently dying inside because I still look unfamous with my same, stupid face.

I'm convinced I just haven't found the right cut yet, and when I do it will be instantly out of style. It's probably easier to just find a way to change the shape of my skull. Though, come to think of it, I wonder how I'd look with dreadlocks?

Probably pretty awesome.


Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via lower back tattoo message. Kelly would also like it noted that there is apparently no agreed-upon plural for platypus, which is the greatest indication yet that science is really slacking.



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