The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

My hair does not rock.

Over the years, I have come to terms with this. Sort of. Mostly I have come to terms that at this point in my life, I am lucky to have hair of any variety, rocking or otherwise. I have seen my hair while wet, and I have seen photos where I have my back to the camera (although, thankfully not both), and I am confident in saying that my hair is on its farewell tour.

I’m sure I will go through the rote middle-aged white dude hair loss feels when my hair truly decides to pack it in. I will buy various unguents and aerosols. I will give serious consideration to late-night infomercials that look like they were shot on VHS as a money-laundering scheme. I will buy a lime green Lamborghini Aventador and refer to everyone as “Champ”. And eventually I will tap Ron Howard on the shoulder, go “HEY LOOK OVER THERE, CHAMP, SOMEONE’S SAYING SOMETHING NICE ABOUT WILLOW” and steal his baseball cap.

But I feel like I’ll run through this cycle pretty quickly, because in all honesty, my hair is super-boring. It is a boring color, it can only be cut one boring way (short), and left to its own devices, does nothing interesting or entertaining. Remember the frog from One Froggy Evening? Remember the way he just sat there and went “bloooorp” when everyone was looking? Imagine that, but on my head.

This was the story of me and my hair in college. At first, I thought if it was a different color, it would finally have that singing/dancing factor that eluded me. So I after consulting my local CVS, I dyed my hair jet black, in the hopes that I could pull off a The Fonz / The Smiths / Guy who saw a Social D video on 120 Minutes once and was like, “That’s some cherry hair, Cat Daddy” kind of look.

You know what happens when you have dark brown hair and dye it jet black? NOTHING, NOTHING HAPPENS, you can’t punch a jukebox and make it play, every day is not Sunday, and your ball and chain remains un-taken away. All I managed to do was take my hair from “dark” to “somewhat darker”. I am pretty sure I spent the first semester of my Sophomore year telling people, “CHECK IT OUT MY HAIR IS BLACK NOW, COOL, RIGHT, NO YOU REALLY HAVE TO LOOK AT IT UNDER THE LIGHT.”

Obviously, it was going to take a more radical change for my hair to really get out there and make a name for itself. So it was back to the hair dye aisle at CVS, where I procured a box of strawberry blond hair dye. I don’t know what possessed me to go that way, but the woman on the box seemed like she was enjoying it, and who am I to argue with a picture of a woman?

So I brought it home, and I proceeded to dump on my already jet black hair.

You know what happens when you add strawberry blond hair dye to jet black hair? YOU GET BURGUNDY. YOU GET BURGUNDY HAIR, AND YOU KNOW WHAT I DIDN’T WANT, BURGUNDY HAIR. Because, again, it was so dark that it left me in a position where I had to point out my hair was different. And then when people really looked at it, they were like, “Oh, it’s a different color, I guess, but a real muted and boring one. Nice try, Josh. Nice try, Josh’s hair.”

After about a jillion more tries, I gave up on coloring my hair and focused on a new, exciting, stupid plan: LONG HAIR. LONG HAIR THAT ROCKED.

A note: My hair does not grow down. It does not get long. It gets big. It grows up and out in such a way that I look like a sixth-tier gangster from Goodfellas. Not an exciting gangster. A gangster who hung back and watched Maury while everyone else did crimes.

By my senior year of college, I was hanging out with a lot of musicians and going to a lot of concerts. This resulted in much frantic dancing, and, if not head banging, a sizable amount of vigorous, rock-oriented head nodding. And quickly, I realized I had the wrong kind of hair for that. When you engage in vigorous, rock-oriented head nodding, you want your hair to floop and swarsh and thromp about, because all of the musicians’ hair is flooping and swarshing and thromping, and everyone thinks they look awesome.

I wanted my hair to do this. BUT HOW?

20 YEAR OLD CAGAN’S LONG HAIR THAT ROCKED PLAN:

  1. Shave sides and back of head, basically down to the skin.
  2. Leave hair on top of head as-is.
  3. Never wash it, and keep it tamped down with a baseball cap, so on the rare occasions I took it off, it hung straight, sort of.
  4. Tie it back in a .5 inch rat-tail that stuck out of the top back of my head like a spigot.

The result? Long, luxurious hair. I’m sorry, did I say, “Long, luxurious hair?” I meant, “Itchy oily limp hair that dangled down from the top of my scalp like squid ink vermicelli.” The 60 minutes a week that it was free to floop, swarsh, etc. did not make up for the fact that the rest of the time I looked like a sketchy drifter. But not an exciting sketchy drifter. A sketchy drifter who hung back and watched Maury while everyone else did sketchy drifting.

Eventually, in a rare fit of common sense, I shaved it all off. My friends all complimented me on how great I looked. “Because I looked awful before, right,” I said, joking in a way where the subtext was, “Please tell me I didn’t look awful.” To a person, my friends told me I looked completely awful, but didn’t want to say anything, because, and I quote, “You seemed so happy about having long hair.”

But I wasn’t, that was the hell of it. I was doing a bunch of dumb stuff to get a bummed-out parody of the result I wanted, and I wasn’t really sure what that was to begin with. The fact is, I have never been able to visualize what my awesome hair would look like (beyond indefinite qualifiers like “long”, “rocking”, “less bloooorp”, “swarsh”, etc.). I just always knew I didn’t like what it looked like as-is.

And when I think about my life, I think about all the times that I have wanted to not be me, without knowing what I actually wanted to be besides “not me”. And there are an awful lot of them. And they are all assuredly wack.

So my hair is boring. But it is my hair, for as long as I have it. And when it finally takes its leave, I will put on my stolen baseball cap, hop in my ever-depreciating sports car, and drive off into the sunset. But not before I check myself out in the mirror, give myself the “love guns”, and say, “You rock, Champ.”

Nothing wack about that.