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The Destination (Part 1) by A.J. by Gator

The Destination (Part 1)
By A.J.

My first crewcut was in the fall of 1978. I was a freshman in college and enjoying my freedom from high school and from living at home. Home was now 1000 miles away.

Men`s hair styles were still long in 1978 although the tide was turning. I had thick, long light blond hair that was mostly straight although as it got longer, it became a little curly - especially in humid weather. That was a problem because I had moved from a very dry, mountain dessert town to a hot and very humid climate.

I had never enjoyed haircuts and had kept my hair long, but neat. It wasn`t so much the haircut that bothered me, but the change in appearance. When I was around ten, and hairstyles were starting to get longer, my father would take me to the barber shop every couple of months and get my shaggy hair cut. It would still be long on top, but my bangs would mostly be amputated and my ears exposed to the public. That would be on Saturday morning, and the following Monday I would feel very self-conscious when I would go to school.

In my senior year at high school I still went through the ritual of self-consciousness although with my longer hair, losing two months growth really didn`t make much of a change to my appearance. I was also more aware of my appearance and grooming and I wondered what it would be like to have short hair. However, my self-conscious side was too dominant.

College opened up new freedom to me. I had been raised in a loving home and I didn`t have a ‘wild side’. So I didn`t become a party animal or do crazy things, but instead I matured to some extent. I enjoyed my independence, and in that journey of growth, I became more self-confident.
My curiosity to explore a shorter hairstyle was boosted by the humidity. There were days when the ends of my hair could just curl up - when that happened, my side-parted bangs looked really bad. I would use the palm of my hand and try to press the hair back in place, but with no success. After about 3 or 4 weeks at college, my wayward curls were really bugging me. At the end of one particularly bad day, I decided enough was enough - I needed a short haircut.

The next morning, Saturday, I went to one of the local barber shops. Growing up in a small town, I had always had my hair cut in barber shops. Back then, it was either a barber shop or a salon, and there was no way I was going into a women`s salon. I was nervous as I walked into the barber shop; unsure of what style I really wanted. I wasn`t ready to completely uncover my ears just yet, but I had decided to partially uncover them. It doesn`t seem a big deal now, but that was about 3 inches of hair that would be coming off.

Another stimulus to my desire for short hair was a builder who had been working around the dorm. By today`s standards his hair was a medium short taper cut, but in 1978, it seemed so short. The guy probably kept his hair short because it was too hot working as a builder to have long hair. He seemed to be a totally cool guy, and made me realize that short hair didn`t necessarily mean ‘nerd’.

So there I was in the barber shop waiting for my haircut, thinking about all this. I was lost in thought when the barber called me up to his chair. Nervously I sat in the chair, and the barber fixed the cape around my neck, pulling out the 2 or 3 inches of hair down my back that was caught under the cape. I explained, as well as I could, what I wanted, and watched apprehensively as fairly long locks of wet hair dropped onto the cape. When he was finished, the barber spun the chair around so that I could face the mirror. I was really pleased. I had lost a lot of hair, but it wasn`t too short. He had cut quite a lot of the bulk from the top of my head, and it looked great. I had asked the barber to move the part from the side to the center - this was the time of change. It seemed to suit me.

When I got back to my dorm room, I looked in the mirror and was liked what I saw. My roommate, Greg, came in and began to make a buzzing sound. “Very funny,” I said. Although Greg proceeded to call me ‘skinhead` for the next few days, I was really pleased with my new haircut. I was also quite proud that I had overcome my self-consciousness. But it wasn`t going to stop here. Having had a sample of shorter hair, my appetite had been ignited.
I decided that I would have regular haircuts and go shorter each time until I found the perfect short haircut. But how often could I realistically go to the barber shop without seeming weird. Two weeks? One month? One month was too long, but two weeks might be too much. I quickly settled on three weeks as a good compromise.

Those next three weeks passed slowly, and I was glad when it was time to go the barber shop again. My next haircut was shorter, with about 3/4 of my ear now exposed, and shorter all over. Three weeks after that, I had just the tip of my ears covered, and the thick blond hair on top of my hair was short enough that it was almost becoming spiky. Greg, my roommate, now dropped using my real name completely, and I was referred to as ‘skinhead’ or ‘skin’ for short.

Each haircut seemed to bring out more self-confidence in me. After my fourth haircut my hair really was getting too short to lie against my head, especially along my center part. It was still over and inch long, but as it was so thick, it wanted to stand up. The barber commented on it as he showed me my haircut. “It`s good to see a man with short hair for a change. Keep going shorter and you might get a crewcut one day,” he said.
A crewcut. Now that was an interesting thought.

The idea really grew on me over the next week or so, and by the time the three weeks were up for my next haircut, I was ready. This was the destination where my haircut journey was leading me. It doesn`t seem like a big deal now, but a crewcut was not a common sight in 1978. In junior high school and even in high school, the occasional kid would be dragged to the barber shop by an angry parent and given a crewcut. One of my buddies had been warning that if he ever got his ear pierced that his mother would take him straight to the barber shop to get a crewcut. In 1978, a crewcut was a punishment rather than a choice, and nobody in college had one. But I was about to get one.

To be continued....

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