brian blum 88 298.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For the past several months, I've been growing my hair long. The official reason is that my 13-year-old daughter Merav wants to dress me up as a girl for Purim, and she wants my hair longer so she can braid it or work with it in some way.
But there's another explanation. As my haircutter told me when he discovered the reason why he hadn't seen me lately: "Every guy in his mid-40s tries to grow his hair long... if he can. Something about trying to reclaim his youth. He eventually decides it looks terrible and cuts it off. It's just a matter of time."
Yeah, that's probably true. It does look pretty terrible. My wife Jody can barely tolerate it. I've seen her looking forlornly at the pictures from the kids' bar and bat mizvas just a few years ago, when my hair was still tidy. "You looked so sexy," she said wistfully one evening. Emphasis on the past tense.
Yet, still I persist. You see, for me, hair has always been about something more than just looks.
I first grew my hair long when I was a pre-teen. I wanted to rebel against the suburban kids who already had transformed my name "Brian" into "Brain" to reflect my grades. If they wouldn't accept me, I'd go to a crowd that would: the hippie crowd. This was 1973.
The only problem was, my facial features hadn't caught up with my hairstyle. One day we had a substitute in math class. The teacher called out: "Will the young woman in the back row please answer the next question?" I looked around to see who she was talking to. "You, young lady," she persisted, looking straight at me. From that day, I had a new nickname. "Briana."
As soon as I was able, I added facial hair to my appearance. It didn't grow so well. My English teacher, Mrs. Andreski, pulled me aside one day and, in what in hindsight I see was well meaning concern, suggested I take a black felt-tip pen and fill in the gaps.
By college, my hair and my beard had both matured enough to require accessorizing. In went a little stud earring. I was now the complete picture of a San Francisco flower child. Just 15 years too late. But I was cool. I majored in creative writing and played new wave and punk rock on the campus radio station.
Then I moved to Israel and got religion. Suddenly, the hair and the earring (if not the beard) felt out of place with the white shirt and nice slacks I wore on Shabbat. The earring was the first to go - it clashed with the kippa now firmly in place on my head.
For the past few years, I've worn my hair very short, though I haven't shaved my head like some of my compatriots (my hairline has receded a bit, but it hasn't gone balding - yet).
Then, sometime around my 46th birthday, I started to wonder: Did my external appearance match my inner beliefs? The kippa and beard had long since come off (it made me look alternately like a rabbi or a Hamas terrorist, neither of which fit). I'd been working at home already for a couple of years - no more meetings in hi-tech offices. And I'd even started an Internet radio show - the Indiescrete.com podcast com playing independent and small label bands and musicians. Maybe longer hair would be appropriate again?
It's been almost six months since my last haircut. My hair is thinner than it used to be in college, and where it once hung down fashionably, it now sort of curls and flips. I can almost tie it into a ponytail. It's unruly, but it's mine.
Now I turn it over to you. Take a look at the two pictures at the top of this article. What do you think? Should I keep going and please my daughter (and my inner rebel), or return to the easy-care neat and nifty look (and please my wife)?
Vote by sending an email to brian@ThisNormalLife.com. Or visit my blog at http://www.ThisNormalLife.com and post your comments there.