Huh? Who IS that? There’s some guy with a ponytail working out on my elliptical!! Wait a sec. He sort of looks familiar. Oh, hang on! Don’t call the police. It’s just my husband. But what the heck is he doing with a ponytail? Am I in some parallel universe where I married a ‘ponytail guy’? This cannot be happening. I have been quite selective about what I want in a mate and I’m pretty sure that ‘ponytail’ was not on the list. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was one of the disqualifiers. So, how the heck did this happen?
The whole thing was a real ‘head scratcher’. I just plain didn’t get it. So I decided to go where many people go when they want to do research and have their questions answered, the library. No, Silly! Not the library, Google! I was in my pajamas, after all! Anyway, what I discovered after going down a few rabbit holes is that it’s not terribly uncommon for people (men mostly) that have had long careers in the military to ‘let their hair down’ (so to speak) once they retire. After years of rules and regulations pertaining to what you can and cannot do with your body and your hair and your overall attire, some people tend to take a walk on the wild side. The first time my husband separated from active duty after serving nearly 10 years, he settled on a mullet. God, help me! If it had been during the time when “Achy Breaky Heart” was still a hit on the radio, I probably would have been a bit more accepting. But this was LONG afterward. I wasn’t a fan and I tolerated it, but I didn’t like it AT ALL. Fortunately, this phase didn’t last too long because he ended up going back into the military (as a guard member), and his hair returned to the old familiar ‘high and tight’. Whew!
High and tight? For those of you that are reading this and think I’m talking about someone’s front or back regions, let’s be clear, I’m not. I’m talking about hair, the stuff that protrudes out of the top of your head. I know it protrudes out of other places, too, but I’m just sticking with the stuff in the vicinity of your cranium (for this particular discussion). Although, having said that, I am extremely tempted to talk about hair in/on other regions of the body as well. Maybe another day when I’m feeling particularly adventurous I’ll devote a little time to it, but not today. So the ‘high and tight’ is a pretty standard haircut in the military. You could say its first cousin is the ‘crew cut’ if that helps you get a better understanding of it. Need an even better description? Alright. It is a very short hairstyle, characterized by the back and sides of the head being shaved to the skin and the top blended or faded into slightly longer hair. For me? This is the ideal haircut on a man. It looks clean and neat, it’s flattering, and it’s easy to care for.
Why so particular about a hairstyle? I’m not sure, exactly. I think it might have something to do with what I had grown familiar with in my formative years. My father and stepdad both wore their hair that way. And they were clean shaven. It was ‘the norm’. People with long hair (worn in any fashion) didn’t really hang out at our house, it really wasn’t their ‘scene’, so you just didn’t see them around. And I’m sure they had better things to do with their time than hang around with nine unruly children. The other abomination you never saw in my house? Someone with A BEARD. Beards had no place in our home either. And, I’ll be honest, they are a real turnoff to me. I don’t care how you style them, short and kept or wild and woolly, I hate the damn things! Whenever I watch David Letterman’s new show, I find it very difficult to hear what he and his guest are actually discussing because I’m so distracted by that unruly white snarl growing out of his face and cascading onto his shirt. And he keeps playing with it! Stop, David. Stop playing with your beard!! Yuck! Why, David? Why?! Sorry, I don’t know you that well. Why, Mr. Letterman?! Why?!!
So imagine my surprise when my husband announced he was going to grow his hair out and style it in a ponytail?! I think I actually had heart palpitations. No, Honey, NO! Please, DON’T! Nope, he wasn’t interested in any of my arguments against it. It was his hair and he was going to grow it out no matter what and I’d better get used to it! Did you hear me sigh, folks? I think I set a record that day for total number of sighs extruded by one person. I don’t know whether ‘extruded’ was the right word to use in that example, but I think you know what I mean. Anyway, back to my story.
Yep, he was determined. Little by little, that ol’ head of hair grew out. My husband seemed quite proud. And the day when it was long enough to use a rubber band to pull it away from his face? You’d have thought it was Christmas day, he was so excited. I wasn’t. I just was so puzzled over it. I married a military man, who was this imposter? Whenever I’d glance over at him, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’d ask myself, “Is he going through another mid-life crisis? He’s already had one, but is it possible to have a second?” I had a hell of a time taking him seriously. Am I going to wake up one day to find he’s traded in his shirts and pants for a burlap robe and his shoes for Birkenstock sandals? When was this going to end or was it going to end?
Do not lament! I won’t leave you in suspense any longer. This story has a happy ending!! Yes, I am here to tell you, there finally came a day when he had a change of heart. He wasn’t really sharing much with me about his ‘follicular frustrations’ but he had developed a few. And when he thought long and hard about the amount of time it took in the bathroom to make himself look presentable and realized that it was really eating into his day, I think that really struck a chord. All I know is, one day he emerged from the bathroom a ‘new man’. No, that didn’t sound right. He came out of the bathroom ‘a new and better version of his old self’. Does that sound better? My point is, he looked G-O-O-D! My reaction? “Awwww, there’s my handsome guy!” I cooed as I dropped to my knees and thanked my lucky stars. Just teasin’. Me? Drop to my knees? I drop to my knees and there’s no guarantee I’m getting back up. And it would leave some SERIOUS bruises. So, no, that’s not going to happen. But I will tell you, you’d better believe I thanked my lucky stars that day! The guy I knew and loved had returned and the fear that had begun to consume me that he would be leaving any minute to go join a cult had been extinguished. Thank you, Sirius and Rigel and Vega and Fomalhaut. Thank you, Achernar and Canopus and Pollox and Mizar.
And should he ever reconsider growing his hair out again? I have a photo. Yes, I do! It was taken back in the day when he thought he looked pretty darn stylish sporting a mullet. Would I ever show it to anyone? Not under normal circumstances, no I wouldn’t. But should the situation call for drastic measures and require blackmail to prevent him from travelling back down that road again, I have no problem blowing that photo up to a poster size and backing it with cardboard and gluing a handle to it and parading it around town. If that’s what it takes to keep him from growing out his hair and pulling it back with a rubber band or a Scrunchie or wearing it in a bun, I have no problem with that, folks. Not a one.