Entering college in the years after punk eviscerated the remains of shaggy hippiedom -- Berkeley excepted -- my hair has always been short. Which may explain why, as my mid-life crisis curled its bony digits around my fragile psychology, and my corporate haircut stared back from the bathroom mirror, I decided to grow my hair.
“I'm going Fabio,” I announced to my wife. "Rocky is gonna have to get along without me," I said, referring to Oakland's most famous barber, who, he tells me, tended Al Davis’ unruly locks for 40 years. He seems proud of this.
With my hair testing the hitherto unexplored expanse of my ears, I passed Rocky enjoying a smoke at the door of his Montclair barbershop. He eyed me suspiciously. "I'm growing it," I pleaded, arms wide, open palms emphasizing fidelity.
But then a funny thing happened. People started treating me differently. "I can tell, you're an artist," a new acquaintance assured me at a cocktail party.
My reply that actually I was a mid-level engineer for a multinational pharmaceutical conglomerate disappointed her. It disappointed me as well. I imagined a different life in which my youth had been wasted swapping hits with Keith Richards in the back of blues bars.