4PM. Halftime of that eight-hour long day’s journey into Tech Sunday’s night.  Five days before “The Odd Couple” opens. It’s the Costume Parade. The cast, standing side-by-side, postures as the director studies stage presence. (Picture a middle-aged company of actors posing on a catwalk skewed wide for fat people).

That’s when it would have happened. Right there. Had he not done so years before, this was the very moment Al Bogart would have died and gone to heaven.

“Murray, “ the director shouted at me, “Get a marine cut for Friday.”
“You mean a flattop?”
“No, a MARINE cut.” (Is there a a difference between Roger Maris and Josh Mandel?)
“Can you get one in a Jewish neighborhood?” I wondered. (Later, off-stage, the guy playing Felix suggested a barber in Willoughby, Ohio—population 3 MOT).

Me…playing a cop….in a marine cut? Sorry you missed it, Dad.

He mirrored so many his age. Long hair was, by The Greatest Generation, sometimes condoned but rarely appreciated. My father pulled no punches:

“You look like an animal.” he’d say to me. “His parents must be so proud,” he’d say of others, with the sole exception of Dick Baskin. (If my father knew you, and if he liked you pre-Beatles, you were grandfathered in).

It was a passionate yet rational approach. Spring, 1971: Highlights had just entered a new market, Upper Arlington, Ohio. This lily-white, upper/crust suburb—one of those towns where you’re not allowed to perspire— was about to be invaded by Al’s marauder sales force: Stuart, Randy, Hal…and this cowboy.

We were college kids governed by our boss’s sensitivities.

“No one knocks on a door ‘til I see the haircut….No one.” And so it was that Stuart, (who budgets for such things), with the rest of our quartet had his wings clipped. To a man we smelled easy money in Upper Arlington. We questioned the narrow social view, but, make no mistake about it, none of us was about to get shut out. What, though, was the big deal about hair length?

“Rowland DeMott lives in Upper Arlington. I don’t want his neighbors complaining.” (When I think of it, ‘twas quite absurd. My dad managed traveling salespeople. Burying calls from irate husbands, deflecting complaints of vagabond direct sales hucksters—that’s what he did.  It was his strong suit!  One would think a grievance about long hair to be laughable. Our father saw nothing funny.

Brush High’s Mr. Kilfoyle, however, did. Years before we hit Columbus the teacher asserted: “I have no problem with hippies. They give ugly people a chance to be popular.” Wisdom perhaps—today it would mean a lawsuit.

My father, though, wasn’t the only kin with hair issues:

Our mom, primarily a redhead, changed colors by the spouse. We set chronology of family snapshots by her marital status. Conversely, we keep all Aunt Helen photos loose in a big bag. 96 years later she still shares a barber with Moe Howard.

Then there’s Uncle Phil who spent a lifetime with jet black hair. The guy died in his late 70’s always looking the gangster. Never quite had the kishkes to ask him about dye jobs. It’s a no-brainer, says H, but admits he didn’t know it at the time.

My light-bearded brother, by the way, had different priorities. Decades ago H revealed his favorite all-time quarterback to be Archie Manning. Why?…Because Mr. Manning never had to shave.

Everyone, it seems, has issues with hair. I remember Michael’s Bar Mitzvah. The then/wife had me get him his haircut three days in advance so “It wouldn’t look like he just got a haircut.” On the other hand, her hair was done The Day Of…so it looked like she’d come straight from the beauty shop. Am I missing something?

Perhaps I never understood hair…never quite  knew the rules. Stacy’s hair is beautiful, they’d tell me. I guess they knew. Heck, I didn’t even know Jamie’s was “colored” until Bush II took office. Is there a difference, by the way, between dying and coloring?

It’s all too confusing to me, but at some level, exciting. I call it progress being cast in a play requiring precisioned hair. Not everyone agrees.

“Don’t do it Dad,” urged Michael, “Unless you’re getting paid for the show.” (Would he prefer I play Daddy Warbucks?) I told him I’d think about it.

It’s Wednesday now—thought process over. My son, I’m sure, knows much about hair…but he doesn’t know theater. There is, in MY realm, nothing more valued than the Director’s cut.

Semper Fidelis!

One Response to “HAIR”

  1. Aunt Helen says:

    If you mean Moses Horwitz, you are correct. Who is Moe Howard?

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