I learned the power of good hair–to command a room and demand attention–when I was in fourth grade.
Julie had a dual dimpled smile, lightly freckled cheeks, and was a nimble striker on the four-square court.
She was also my first real crush.
Every day at Oak Elementary School, in Mr Ferguson’s class, I would implement the flirt-via-teasing game that, even at such a young age, I had a particular knack for. Some days it seemed to work well, others I would swear she didn’t even notice me. On those days, when I felt invisible, I would turn my attention during recess to her BFF, Jill, and flirt with her. Hoping to make Julie jealous, naturally.
One afternoon several of my guy friends witnessed my probably-too-desperate flirting with Julie and promptly mocked me for such shenanigans. While I can’t recall what they said, I do remember (because we all laughed about it years later together) angrily shouting back, “I’M NOT INVITING YOU TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY!”
(Which I didn’t… but only because I had no birthday party that year. But they didn’t need to know that. Jokes on them.)
My efforts to win Julie’s heart, tirelessly worked out over weeks of monkey bars and music class, all came screeching to a halt that fateful Monday morning we boarded the bus to drive to the local swimming pool for a week of water safety lessons.
For on that fateful morning, as our class hustled and shuffled to load up, and after nearly everyone else had found their seat, the cloudy Oregonion skies parted, a light descended, and angels sang a chorus while up the bus steps walked Jeff Douglas.
(Oh I’m sorry, did you think this would be a story about Julie’s hair? Hardly.)
Jeff had been my friend since the second grade when I played with him on a basketball team coached by his dad, but this morning I wondered if our friendship had perhaps met its end.
For Jeff casually glided on to that bus that morning with a brand new hair cut,
AND EVERYONE NOTICED.
He practically floated toward the back of the bus, as though his new hair came with super powers, and we all stared in awe. The fourth grade coolness chart exploding before our very eyes.
No one had seen hair like that before–and probably haven’t since.
It’s been 25 years now, but even a quarter century later I can still describe Jeff’s impeccable cut and style perfectly.
His naturally sandy blonde hair, previously shaggy and unkempt, was now cut tight on the sides and back, faded up gradually to increased length on the top. It was perfectly parted on the right side, deftly swooping across to the left. No volume, no fluff. Just slicked over and back smoothly, like Leo’s depiction of Jay Gatsby, but two decades ahead of its time.
That alone would have been nice, sure. But here’s the kicker…
at the front of his hair, directly in between where the part was formed, was a small section of hair carefully crafted in to… wait for it… a single spike.
I don’t think you’re with me on this…
Imagine shaping your bangs to imitate a unicorn. Got it? Good. Now shift that gorgeous hair-horn just slightly off center to the right side and meticulously part your hair around it.
Blammo. You’ve got it.
Jeff’s kick ass new ‘do.
He knew it. We knew it.
And Julie definitely knew it.
Suddenly I was hyper aware of the bushy brown clunky locks atop my own dome, dangerously dancing on the edge of MulletVille.
Who would want to be with a guy with hair like this, when Jeff’s hair looks like that?!
I simultaneously hated and envied Jeff.
My months long initiative to show Julie I was the guy for her was now dust in the wind, obliterated by one well placed blast from Jeff’s mom’s can of Aqua Net.
I had been trying to get Julie to notice me. To stand out from the fourth grade crowd. Putting forth great effort and time so that she would see me as the guy for her.
Jeff? Pfff… with hair like that, there was no “trying.” His singularly gel-sculpted spike, sticking straight out like a cell phone tower, broadcasted his coolness with ease.
Game. Set. Match.
They were boyfriend/girlfriend within a week.
On the bus ride to the pool that day–where his hair masterpiece wouldn’t survive the deep end diving, but it mattered not, for the damage was done–I think a primal truth was unlocked deep inside my being:
If you have good hair, the world is your oyster.
Those who know me well (and, let’s be honest, probably even those who barely know me) know how much I love hair. Styling, cutting, products, tools, all of it. If I wasn’t a pastor, I’d probably be a stylist. Hell, I might find a way to do both someday.
And I truly believe that the advent of this passion was born that morning.
The day my true love was lost to Jeff with the Good Hair.