Mike Murphy

“Give me a head with hair, long, beautiful hair”

Of course, many of you recognize the above lyric from the 1968 musical “Hair,” a play filled with counterculture themes. But the only idea from the whole hippie movement that I latched onto with any real commitment was “letting my freak flag fly” as suggested by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

I have always leaned towards a bit longer hair style. First, as a form of subtle rebellion and, in a more practical sense, as a survival tactic since I’ve lived half my life in winter weather.

The reason I’m thinking about this is because I “almost cut my hair, happened just the other day,” to use another CSNY song lyric.

Getting my hair cut recently seemed like a good idea what with Valentine’s Day coming up and, according to Punxsutawney Phil, spring right around the corner. Yet, I’ve always been leery about letting people cut it, and am even more so now that I’m trying to preserve the few remaining hairs desperately clinging to my head.

Throughout history, people have gone to extreme measures in pursuit of proper hair care. During the Renaissance, folks used melted lizard fat mixed with swallow droppings as a type of hair gel. In Shakespeare’s time, ladies set their hair by kneading it with lard.

The neighborhood barber I went to as a kid wasn’t nearly that creative although he did use some goop labeled Butch Wax to get my flattop to stand straight up and Lord only knows what it contains.

Flattop, butch, or something called a ‘regular’ haircut, those were my three choices in the early 1950s.

Then we got into the 1960s and the whole haircut scene went crazy. Ducktail, Afro, Mop-Top along with countless other hair-style choices made a trip to the ‘hair stylist’ much more complicated. I tried for the Beatles look, but some natural curl doomed me to failure.

So that brings me back to my recent inspiration to get a haircut. First, I decided to do a bit of research before venturing out just to see what the latest suggestions are for older men. I have to say I was amazed how the web can have such an abundance of suggestions about something so scarce as senior male hair.

Here’s a sample of a brilliant insight put forth by a so-called expert on senior style: “Deciding which type of haircut is right for you can be one of the biggest challenges senior men face. A hairstyle that worked 30 years ago may no longer look as good as it once did.”

I’ve got news, buddy, when it comes to senior men, NOTHING works or looks as good as it did 30 years ago!

Another topic listed on a senior website is “How to Care for Mature Hair.” Mature hair? If that’s what this little grey sprig is on top of my head then I’ll take back my immature hair right this minute, if you don’t mind.

Then there’s “Trends in Baby Boomer Hairstyles.” Well, it’s heartening to know that it’s still possible at my age to be trendy at something besides modeling the latest innovations in hearing aids.

One site really got carried away with its declaration “Finding the right haircuts for seniors can make you feel like a million bucks.” Uh, no, not when everything below my hair makes me feel like two cents.

A caption on a final site advises “Thinning hair, bald spots, and graying are all things senior men need to take into account when getting a haircut.” For me personally I’d say, that’s right, all of those, plus making sure my hair appointment does not conflict with naptime.

I’m not sure about you, but I feel that when I give the hair stylist directions on how I want my hair cut, and she nods and makes comments like “perfect” and “awesome,” she’s thinking the whole time “Is this guy nuts? Does he seriously think I can do that with this head of his?”

And I’m pretty sure that as I rattle off specific styles such as blocked hairline, tapered hairline, layered, spiked, or high and tight, what she actually hears is “The usual old guy haircut.”

The reason I think that is, no matter what I tell her to do, I always end up looking like a dweeb, and I have to blame someone else — it can’t be my fault!

When she hands me a mirror so I can see what a dweeb I am from every angle and asks, “How’s that look?” I always reply “Great.” Might as well since it’s not going to do me a heck of a lot of good to complain now when my “long beautiful hair” is lying in pathetic little scattered piles on the tile floor.

I guess I’m simply still recovering from my last experience at the hair stylist. I thought I would be clever and brought a photo of a handsome celebrity, in this case George Clooney. When I asked the stylist “Can you make me look like this?” she replied “Sure.”

Once she had finished and handed me the mirror, I put on my glasses to get a better look. I was astonished to discover that I did resemble a celebrity — I now looked exactly like Woody Allen!

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist whose articles are syndicated by Senior Wire. He recently published a book titled “Tortoise Crossing – Expect Long Delays,” which is a collection of 100 of his favorite columns. It is available on Amazon.com.