Contributions by other people

Mark Newport, USA

My uncle Bob was my favorite uncle when I was a child. He was intelligent, opinionated, and funny. I always thought I would grow up to be like him. One of the great games my brother and I played with him was messing up his hair. He was meticulous about his hair. It was always perfectly combed and held in place with some "wet - look" styling goop. We developed commando, mess and run tactics, for accomplishing our objective. Of course, Uncle Bob would laugh at our attempts, until we became too persistent, then he would blow up yelling, and then straighten his hair. Many years later, while I was in grad school, I saw Uncle Bob. He had aged well, but he was sick and had lost quite a bit of weight. I realized that his hair was still the same. Almost no gray after 15 years, and still almost black in color. Of course the style was the same, and still sculpted into form. We had an argument over the way he was treating my mother during the years after my grandfather, their father, had died. As is the way in my mother's side of our family, he stopped speaking to me and then passed away with no further interaction. Lately I notice that I am wearing that hairstyle too, with a bit less styling goop, and it bothers me. You see, Uncle Bob's way was the only way. He controlled his world and the people in it like he controlled his hair, and now his hair and his tone of voice are on and within me.

I know I could change my hairstyle, I did that enough in college. But lately it has started thinning on top, so the short buzz cut I liked to wear makes me uncomfortable. It shows my scalp and makes me self conscious. This thinning also makes haircuts less fun. I used to love to get my haircut short, so that I could feel the air on my scalp, and the tingling sensation on the top of my head. Then I would let my hair grow for several months, until I could not stand the length and the look, just so I could cut it off again. It seems really silly too be so sensitive about hair, but it is so much of what I feel positive about in my appearance and without it, all I can imagine is a geeky looking college professor. I suppose I could/should just accept this first noticeable bit of maturity and get on with the business of making art, being with my family, and teaching, but the thoughts under the hair can be very distracting.