Bad Haircut by (1 Story)

Prompted By Hair

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In sixth grade I was a bonafide punk rocker and wanted a haircut to match. I was living in an upwardly mobile community where fitting in and excelling were the norm. (This is perhaps why I was drawn to punk rock; I never quite bought the materialist zeitgeist.) I was at a friend’s grandfather’s house, and my friend (also a punker) was telling me how his grandfather had been the neighborhood barber in his village in rural Mexico when he was younger. I got the bright idea that we should both get buzz cuts right then, which other than the mohawk was the predominant punk-rock style. Luckily, Granpapa was game. He wouldn’t need scissors for what we wanted; just an electric razor would do. We asked for a “Number One,” meaning the shortest cut the razor could deliver other than baldness. I felt conformity drop off me with each lock hitting the ground. Twenty minutes later, I had nothing more than peach fuzz on my entire head. I felt proud but scared of what people would think. And yet I soon as I thought that, I’d remind myself that I didn’t care what people thought! (Though I did. The cycle between acceptance and independence has always been a roller coaster for me.) When my mother got home that night, she was shocked and told me in no uncertain terms how absolutely terrible my hair looked, and that I was going to be made fun of the next day at school. I was so upset that I ran out of the house and slammed the door and walked by myself for two hours, perhaps my first real foray into adolescent angst. The next day as I put books in my locker, I heard two kids whispering about how bad I looked. “You can see his scalp!” they giggled. Lucky for me I decided to not care and felt great the next week when I went to my first punk rock show, my scalp glistening with sweat as I slam-danced with abandon.

Profile photo of Tim McKee Tim McKee

Characterizations: been there, moving, well written


  1. Constance says:

    The haircut looks terribly fun, and that was the perfect time and place to unleash that. How fun to have photos to remember those times.

  2. rosie says:

    I would love to know more about your experience although that photo was very telling. I really enjoyed reading what you wrote and have a very big smile on my face right now.

  3. TSSNYC says:

    I totally “get” this. I, too, had a bad haircut at home that I won’t ever forget!

  4. John Zussman says:

    I salute you for deciding not to care and sticking to it! You obviously had more courage of your convictions than I did as a teenager.

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