Look at this photo of me, at 6 or 7 years old. Big floppy ears. Protruding forehead. Widespread nose.
I looked like monkeyboy.
The doctor didn’t slap me when I was born. He gave me a banana instead.
I’ve always had a big head — longer than it is wide. At birth, my head occupied 93 percent of my skinny monkeyboy body. As an adult, I fill a hat size bigger than a Texas Stetson.
As a kid, I wanted to hide my King Kong cranium under a thick mop of hair. My barber wouldn’t have it. That barber was mom.
Home hair cutting saved time, money and aggravation.
When you raise eight kids, you have to practice practicality. Home hair cutting made financial and logistical sense.
Unfortunately, mom practiced one haircutting style: the buzzcut. It was fast, easy and no bangs to get straight.
Mom did her barbering with a powerful set of electric shears handed down to her from nomadic sheep-shearing ancestors. They buzzed louder than a table saw, pulled the hair on the back of your neck and smelled of warm 3-in-1 oil.
Mom employed these clippers with the deft efficiency of a Marine barber. She used the wide comb attachment, made by International Harvester, to make a few quick passes over my scalp, leaving me with that healthy and shiny monkeyboy look.
I fought the buzzcuts most of my childhood. Protested them as inhumane. Threatened to run away. Did no good. Mom believed we looked better in short hair than long.
Eventually, I snapped. After one of mom’s combine cuts, I stomped up to the attic, after first declaring that I was going to stay there until my hair grew back.
I forgot that it was summer. The attic was hot as a kiln. I lasted about 20 minutes before I returned downstairs, wearing a baseball cap, and declaring that I was going to wear it until my hair grew back. I stomped to my bedroom and slammed the door as proof that I meant it this time.
By high school, mom quit cutting my hair and I grew it down to my shoulders. It was rangy, bone straight and ugly.
As I grew older, my haircuts grow shorter – by choice.
As I write this post, my hair is nearly as stubby as it was in my baboon picture.
Mom was right. I do look better in short hair.
Better a late learner, than a never learner.
I think I’ll celebrate by having a banana.