Thursday, October 30, 2014

Me and My Mullet

Last Friday, I was long overdue for a haircut. I asked the young woman on whose mercy I flung myself to leave intact the little tail I’ve asked the perpetrators of my last few haircuts not to cut. She left not only the tail, but a fair amount of hair to either side of it. In a couple of weeks, it’s apt to appear as though I’m attempting a mullet. I am planning to find perversely affirming the snickering this will surely inspire. 

Have you ever noticed that those who leap up screeching and fondling their own genitalia in excitement at the sight of someone in a mullet are usually those with no discernible sense of style of their own? Have you noticed that the British television comperes who derive the greatest delight from showing footage of Ronan Keating (trust me: he was very, very big) sporting a look that has come, over a couple of decades, to be regarded as ludicrous never show footage of themselves from the same period, when they were doing everything in their power to look like Ronan Keating? 

That which makes a style exciting is it's to blow raspberries at prevailing contemporary notions of good taste. For that reason, when the style is widely abandoned, it will of course appear silly, its silliness having been the reason it was such fun at the time. There are few cheaper shots in all the world than ridiculing discredited hairstyles and fashions.

Stand atop Facebook, throw a stone, and you’ve got a very good chance of hitting a woman who’s posted on her page a photograph of herself in padded shoulders, legwarmers, or big permed hair of the sort that was very fashionable in the 80s, inevitably with the caption, “What was I thinking?” Well, what you were thinking, madam, is almost certainly that you wanted to be viewed as chic, and asked your hairdresser to make you look like other fashionable women. If there’s any shame in that, it’s in being imitative, but how many of are sufficiently charismatic, self-confident, and rich to do what former idol Tom Wolfe does, get his unique wardrobe custom-made?

I used to write what was ostensibly a fashion column for Creem magazine. Therein, I asserted that the very worst idea for a musician hoping to attract notice was to dress as musicians he or she admired were already dressing. As though I hadn’t done exactly that myself! When I was 21, my mother, who in her high school yearbook had been described as “always looking like a page out of Vogue [magazine], and who’d unwittingly made my earlier life agonizing by insisting that I wear beige jeans and brown shoes while every other boy in sight toed the black-shoe-and-blue-jeans line, looked at a photograph of me with very long hair and a wispy moustache, sighed, and said, “Why would you want to make yourself look like that?” Easy, Mom. Because I hoped to be seen as hip, and possibly even a little bit dangerous, a fearsome foe of the status quo, yo.

I’m kind of proud of having no tattoos, and of never having owned a Ramones T-shirt intended to convey my hipness. My only piercing is in my left earlobe, and is from a million years ago, when a man would still be called a “faggot” and challenged to fights even for a tiny diamond stud, let alone the sort of rhinestone drop earrings I wore years later as an employee of San Francisco’s biggest fascist law firm, from which I yearned to be fired, but was not. I am proud never to have bought a stingy-brim fedora of the sort seen so often in hipster neighborhoods. When I see someone in such a hat, I always want to go up to him, point at the hat, and say, “Groovy!” But I suspect in most cases he wouldn’t get it.