Friday, April 24, 2009
"Waiter, there's some hair in my bar!"
The boys in the bar were making fun of how long my hair was getting. Understand, when I’m talking about the boys in the bar, I don’t mean Vidal Sassoon, Paul Mitchell or Jay Sebring.
These guys don’t cut hair. Heck, these guys barely have hair. My bar, The Pond, is not some swanky Manhattan cocktail lounge populated by thin pretty boys and girls fresh from their fashion shoots. It’s what me and my underage friends used to deride as an “old man’s bar” before we all became old men.
It’s a friendly tavern, but on some days there is a throwback element to a 1950s sort of danger, kind of like the kind George Bailey finds in Nick’s after his “wish I’d never been born” prayer turns Bedford Falls into Pottersville.
In fact, one bartender is exactly like Nick, the owner of the place where Bailey and apprentice angel Clarence Oddbody retire for a double whiskey and a “mulled wine with a lot of cinnamon and just a little clove,” respectively.
The exotic order prompts Nick to seethe: “Look, mister - we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don't need any characters around to give the joint ‘atmosphere.’ Is that clear, or do I have to slip you my left for a convincer?”
That’s what it’s like on Tuesdays when Bill’s working only with Bill every other word would have NBC censors diving on the five-second delay the way heroes dive on live grenades.
I’m often the target for ridicule because I consider it my duty to give the place atmosphere. I differ from most of my fellow drinkers in that I dress dapper, profess liberal opinions and use common silverware for things like salad and spaghetti.
If they ever start stocking mulled wine, why, I’ll be the first to order a big snifter full and load it up with the cinnamon I keep with the cloves and other spices I always carry around in my handy little fanny pack.
My critics are strictly the ballcap and tube sock crowd. And that’s not even the most noticeable difference in our appearance.
That would be hair. I have it. They do not.
In fact, I have a lot of it. It’s thinning a bit, but what I have behaves like the East Germans did after the Berlin Wall came down. It’s having a party.
I go as long as eight weeks without getting it cut. I do this for many reasons. It saves money. It saves time. It keeps me from having to go to that awful unisex salon where I feel they’re psychologically cutting off things more dear to me than hair every time I enter and am assaulted by music from people like Beyonce.
The days when men with long, lively hair were considered effeminate ended throughout most of America about 30 years ago. That means it’ll be another 15 years or so before it ends here in Western Pennsylvania.
But I argue that these men so concerned about their masculinity are actually behaving more lady-like than I.
They devote more time and product to their appearances than I ever do. I get out of the shower, run a brush through the noodles, and I’m done. The whole procedure takes maybe 12 seconds. Then the hair is at liberty to do as it pleases for 24 hours.
If tedious facial shaving is any indicator, my tormentors probably spend 15 or 20 minutes every other day gazing into the mirror at their ape-like faces as the try not to nick their noggins with the buzzing little groomers.
The smooth result is that when two of them put their heads together to talk confidentially about guns, Sarah Palin or NASCAR the combined effect looks like one wide bottom is trying make an angry point by mooning some invisible cross-bar antagonist.
Of course, like most bar arguments, this one is an utterly pointless diversion. Increasing numbers of my once stout hairs are becoming cowardly deserters. They go AWOL and one day I recognize that I, too, will be just another butt head sitting around the old man’s bar.
Oh, well. That’s the circle of life.
Hair today. Gone tomorrow.