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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Locks of love

That's not a misspelling. I didn't mean "lots," and I'm not making fun of the hair charity.

It is a play of sorts. It's about what you're willing to do for a significant other in order to please them.

No need to get sexual. And I'm not talking about giving a significant other money or gifts. I'm talking about how much you're willing to change yourself for them.

I'm loath to even use the word "change," 'cause lately I've heard it so much I want to permanently expunge it from my vocabulary. If it isn't being offered by the presidential candidates, then it's being requested by someone on the corner in downtown Miami trying to cull together enough coin for the next visit to a sidewalk pharmacist. Needless to say, I've decided to start referring the latter to the former. I hear senators Clinton, McCain, and Obama have plenty of change. Their kind of change may not be worth enough to buy crack, but all three say they want to share it...the change, not the crack.

But I digress.

I have a neighbor. A very cool guy. He too is in the other side club, as in cooler than the other side of the pillow. I've always liked this guy 'cause he's a little loud, a little raw, a little crazy, but always solid, reliable, respectful, etc. He's a good neighbor. He mows some other neighbors' lawns, just because he's a nice guy. He's always quick with a joke and a smile and a wave. And he's always had a really cool Mohawk hairdo.

Not everyone can sport a 'hawk, just like some women can't wear low-rider jeans, and some guys can't wear flat-front slacks, and almost no one should wear biker shorts. You have to have the right 'tude and carriage and confidence to pull off a 'hawk. This guy has all three.

He recently began dating a nice young lady. We don't even know her and haven't been formally introduced, but almost immediately after she began spending time at his house she too started waving and smiling and saying hi and occasionally engaging us in small talk in passing.

Something curious happened after a few weeks of her presence though. The 'hawk started to get shorter, and droopier. The side hair started growing back in. It was like an erect flower had begun to wilt for lack of watering. After a week-and-a-half or so of this metamorphosis, the 'hawk had disappeared. In it's place was a common, Caesar-style haircut that you might see on a million guys in a million places. To top that off, my neighbor's tude changed. He seemed tamer. We stopped doing the Tim the Tool Man thing, comparing notes on lawn mower "technology," offering one another cold, canned beverages, and yelling stupid jokes at each other over our respective privacy fences.

This made me think of the Old Testament character of Sampson, who was so smitten by a woman, he let her chop off his magical hair, which was reportedly the root of his super human strength. She subsequently had him blinded, the story goes, and reduced to a shadow of the man he once was.

A more modern analogy would be the actor/rapper Anthony "Treach" Criss, former leader of the group Naughty by Nature. In the group's 1999 single "1,2,3," in answer to speculation that his long, braided hair was fake and should be cut off and that his girlfriend was pressuring him to cut it off, Treach rhymed "Au contraire mon frere/this is all my hair/I wouldn't cut it for the biggest buttocks out there."

My first question would be what kind of tough guy rapper says "au contraire?" But that's another post altogether.

Treach refused to cut his crazy 'do. My neighbor, I suspect, caved.

Maybe my neighbor is really in love with his new friend. Maybe, logically, he figured her companionship was worth more to him than his very cool 'do.

But this sort of change always annoys me. I admit, it's easy for me to talk big and tough here, 'cause all Mrs. B has ever asked me to change was my beard or goatee, when I occasionally grow them. If I let 'em get scruffy she'll ask me to trim 'em or shave 'em off altogether.

Still, my neighbor's not some kid sporting a 'hawk out of rebellion. He has gray hair. By now that 'do was part of his lifestyle, I'd argue...until Mrs. B told me to be quiet and stay out of it.

It's like going into a strip club and meeting one of Eliot Spitzer's friends. She was dancing on a pole when you met her, and you were attracted to what you saw enough to date her. So what makes you think you have any business insisting she swing her way off that pole a few weeks into your relationship?

I miss my crazy neighbor buddy.

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  • So, in a way, you are saying that Love is the Tamer of the Mane.

    Sad - if she liked him for what he was, then he needn't be changing. But, I do agree with Mrs. B - there are times when a man does need a shave.

    By Anonymous Karmyn R, at 2:13 PM  

  • Since you're both so cool, can't you stroll over with a cold six pack and sit on the porch and just talk like two cool dudes watching the World go spinning by?

    By Blogger The CEO, at 7:09 PM  

  • Maybe he realized (with a little help from his friend) that he was more than his Mohawk and didn't need it any longer.

    The thing is, if she IS responsible for the demise of the prize, at some point he'll grow resentful and she'll be history. The Hawk may even return with a vengeance.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, at 11:43 PM  

  • Did I miss something? Do we know for sure that she asked him to grow it out? Maybe it was a decision he made entirely on his own.

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 9:13 AM  

  • Speaking of 'locks of love', even though you weren't referring to the charity, my hub did donate his hair to them before. Now that it's R E A L L Y long again... he could easily give 12 inches and still be able to get what's left into a ponytail. But, I'm the one that loves it so much I've had him hold off on cutting it just a little while longer. OMG, when gets out of the shower and it's all long and wet and OH... wait... sorry, we can't go there! LOL

    Happy Easter, James!
    Hope you and yours have a nice holiday weekend. :)

    By Blogger CrystalChick, at 12:11 PM  

  • KarmynR, ha ha ha! Yes, love is tamer of the mane. Nice.

    Monty, Monty, Monty. The coolness is the joke in this post and others in which I mention it. Me calling myself cool with a straight face is like a New York governor calling himself faithful with a straight face. In my tribe we call it humor tinged with sarcasm. I could walk over to my neighbor's house with a six pack. But that hasn't been our relationship. We usually talk over the fence. More fun and Tim the Toolman-like that way.

    HeartsinSanFran, I hope their relationship lasts. But we'll know it didn't if the 'Hawk does make a surprise return.

    ThirdWorst, I did make it clear that I was just speculating she caused the demise of the 'Hawk. But if I was a prosecutor I'd take my case before a judge. My neighbor may have chosen on his own to kill the 'Hawk, but it's a mighty coincidence that the 'Hawk didn't start to die until the new girlfriend moved in.

    Crystalchick, you're gonna make me poke out my mind's eye! Kidding. That is really cool that your hubby gave to Locks of Love...and that his hair still does it for you ;>)

    But thanks for the holiday wishes and same to you. I'll be off eating jelly beans and hunting down boiled eggs this weekend...until someone gets suspicious of the big kid and kicks me out of the church yard.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:58 PM  

  • Requiem for a Mohawk

    By Blogger Claudia, at 1:59 AM  

  • A woman, they tell me, can tame the wild beast in a man, civilize his "mountain man", and homestead the "drifter" in him.

    By Anonymous before the mayflower, at 2:49 AM  

  • He might be happy. You know, pimping ain't easy and it takes a LOT of work to be cooler than the other side of the pillow. He might just need a rest.

    By Blogger M@, at 3:39 PM  

  • Maybe he's just realizing that growing up includes some change.

    I don't think strippers will hang from poles eternally so sometimes changes happens out of necessity, gravity, and who's there or who might not be for lack of that change.

    By Blogger C, at 3:07 PM  

  • Change is funny. Your crazy neighbor just might be thinking hair is as temporary as the girl, or as permanent. I hope you see him at the fence soon enough.

    Hope you had a good easter!

    By Blogger Say It, at 8:35 AM  

  • Claudia, I like that - Requiem for a Mohawk. I do miss the Hawk.

    Before the Mayflower, there must be some truth to that. I don't know how much of a beast I was, but before I got on the marriage track I not only never set foot in antique shops or fairs, but the desire to never crossed my mind. Now, I accompany Mrs. B to these things without kicking and screaming so much. Maybe I've lost my will to fight. Maybe I've discovered they're not so terrible. Not sure which. Maybe a little of both.

    Interesting theory, M@. So maybe he grew the hair out and killed the Hawk, so as to revive himself through the boredom of normalcy. I can buy that.

    C, growing up is probably the most practical reason, I guess. But at his age, if I hadn't grown up I wouldn't bother. Enjoy the status quo at that point, I say. As for change being necessary in some cases, you are so right. I imagine gravity to be a killer on the pole.

    Say It, thanks for the Easter wish. It was enjoyable. It rained a lot, so after we got home from a morning service the missus and me and our cat lounged around on the porch eating "Easter" food and watching the rain. Unfortunately our dog didn't join us, 'cause he has some freakish fear of the porch. Anyway, I'm holding out hope that former Hawk man will be back at the fence soon...hopefully not at the expense of his new relationship. I don't think I was a bad influence.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:08 PM  

  • Mohawk or not, hopefully your friends attitude remains the same. I love mohawks and my mohawk. Lots of people do at However, the message of the person transcending the hairstyle is alot of what having a mohawk means. It means proving yourself to be individual and decent and stand for what you believe in "always". The mohawk is visible and requires this, blending even for a moment is not allowed. If your friend remains the person he is, without the mohawk, then he is fine. If he starts to blend and not be the unique individual he was, then the girl and the lack of the mohawk is helping him trend toward ordinary, something anyone that has sported the do, does not wish to accept.

    By Blogger Cheyenne, at 4:30 PM  

  • Oh, I'm sure there's a connection too. I just think it's unfair to assume she asked or demanded he get rid of the mohawk. Maybe he decided it was time for a change? Or maybe she helped him move on to a new (better?) chapter in his life, and his 'do was a marker of the past?

    Whatever makes him happiest. Now if a hairdo can symbolize "all that," why not grow one yourself? I for one think it'd make for a rather sporting profile pic. :)

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 4:49 PM  

  • I like to think that I'll be rocking the black streaks in my blonde for years and years. But we'll see what happens. Maybe he'll bring it back one day?

    By Blogger Melissa, at 10:23 AM  

  • ThirdWorst, I may take you up on that 'hawk challenge. I have to ask Mrs. B first.

    And Melissa, keep rocking the streaks. You'll have a well established, documented trail of streaks when you grow old. So no one will be able to accuse you of succumbing to whimsy or a fad. And here's to hoping my neighbor brings back the 'hawk.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:52 PM  

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