Monday, May 02, 2011

Dear 18 Year Old Me...

I owe you a very deep felt apology for I failed you. I tried my best and fought against all obstacles, but in the end it just was not meant to be. I had to abandon my quest for the betterment of the 40 Year Old Me and, last Saturday, I cut off my ponytail.

I remember quite clearly that day sitting in Fontana Hall’s cafeteria, red-eyed and foggy minded, while eating a bowl of mixed of every cereal they offered and talking about the value of long hair with a few friends. They need names and I never use real names out of respect for people’s privacy, so let’s call them: Mike and John. The third person will be called “Droopy Fonzerelli” because that is what we called him behind his back. The guy looked like Fonzi and Droopy had a kid! Oh, and I am not proud of the “behind his back” thing, but I was only 18 so cut me some slack. Anywho…

Come Along” by Salty Dog played over the cafeteria’s P.A. system and Mike and I, who both were growing our hair out, were asked about it by John. I can only assume the song sparked the curiosity, but he asked us if we ever planned on cutting our hair. “Never” being the standard 18 year old Long Hair response and John pressed the issue by offering hypothetical monetary values to the question and Mike and I continued to say “no.”

“I’ll bet you will cut your hair,” John said smugly, leaving “I will turn 40 with a ponytail” as my only logical recourse.

Needless to say, both Mike and I have had short hair in the days since, but around the time I turned 38 the conversation suddenly reappeared clearly in my mind. Many nights I fell asleep with that afternoon in Fontana Hall replaying verbatim over and over until I decided I had to keep that promise to myself. I stopped getting my hair cut that moment and spent the next year and a half looking bad.

At first, I had a rather “Bozo the clown”ish appearance. The male pattern baldness my head choose to take made my top frizz upwards as my sides ballooned outward. I rode the horror of my reflection out for months on end until I reached a “Page Boy” bob that was even more horrendous than the Bozo. As my sides grew to a point I could push them behind my ears, the “Page Boy” became a “Poser Tail” or one of those pathetic ponytails you saw people have in the 80’s when they tried to hide their mullet. That slowly morphed into what can be called a “Nicolas Cage Cut” to those feeling kind or just “YUCH” to those being honest.

For the last two weeks, I have been pulling my hair back and thinking about cutting my hair, but my promise/bet stayed in my head. I would grab the scissors and hear Crosby, Stills, and Nash singing Almost Cut My Hair/ Happened Just the Other Day and would climax with my tossing the scissors down as the lyrics I Feel Like I Owe It to Someone blasted in my head. Despite the Earworm enticing me to keep my hair, a voice in the back of my head compelled me to pick up the scissors again everyday and repeat the process until Saturday when the scissors finally closed.

I felt my heart pounding just before I pulled a Delilah on my Samson persona fearing the same outcome, but the sound of the steel splitting the fibers of hair compelled me to keep going. The sound even managed to drown out the Earworm begging me to keep the hair. I could hear crowds cheering as I made each following cut. I knew I made the right choice.

I tried my best to fulfill your promise to “John” made all those years ago. I told my boss that growing my hair was the form my “midlife crisis” was going to take so he would allow me to grow it out. I put up with over two years of looking horrible all in the name of “turning 40 with a ponytail,” but that was 18 Year Old Me Idealism. 40 Year Old Me Realism realized I don’t have anywhere near enough hair to grow it out and not look like one of those old men with a ponytail I used to make fun of. Ironically, my hair looks fuller and my bald spot smaller now.

Don’t take it personally 18 Year Old Me. As I get older and my time with you gets further and further away, you become cooler and cooler in my mind than you probably ever were and I even envy you sometimes.

Love Always,
40 Year Old Me

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