Friday, October 11, 2013

Haircut - Baku

I'd planned to cut my hair when I returned from the Sturgis, South Dakota, Motorcycle Rally.  Long hair, tattoos and piercings are haute cotoure for a big Harley Davidson Classic males ridingcross country.  They're as essential as leather bikini tops and thongs are for women riders.  It had grown on it's own and was becoming a kind of head plant. I was impressed by the length and cultivation.  A city farmer without a plot of land, I grew my hair.
I knew I'd cut it off when I returned to sailing. Sailing solo across oceans, short hair, and ease of maintenance with water conservation is simply routine.
Long hair as a statement goes back to my teens when three men wanted to beat me with baseball bats chasing me through corn fields , simply because I had long hair.  Intolerance of difference was all the rage in the 60's and 70's of my youth.
It's like the intolerance today of Quebec.  There the hijab became an issue.  One must uncover one's face to accuse another by Canadian law.  The Siks wanted to remain armed with long knives in government buildings but I countered that my Scottish Irish heritage and religion, demanding  I carry a broad sword into court rooms and other government buildings. Naturally being Canadian today I'd prefer a Glock 9 mm pistol but if the Siks wanted knives I was content with a broad sword.
So today I support diversity and know conformity is communist and totalitarian.  At the same time it's not really that big an issue for me any more.  I'm growing old and it seems from where I sit the youth must learn over and over again that freedom is not license. Freedom is something that is lost if one does not stand, often alone, when others are lying down and crawling on their bellies.  This week we've been discussing how the United Nations is denying women children. Children are already in Canada, in the eyes of many, a luxury, denied so many as women are forced to work alongside men long hours and most days.
So my long hair was a kind of statement of freedom.  A personal statement.  A bit of nostalgia too.  For a younger simpler day when the enemies weren't layered in corporations, off shore accounts, corruption and lies.  With so many appointed boards with such increase in power I've lost track of where democracy has gone while still fighting for a Canada I hardly recognize.
Here in Baku I liked the haircuts of the men.  There's a sophistication here reminiscent of Omar Shariff and a touch of the Elvis era. I told my colleague Dr. Ney, when we were in the Catholic church how I liked the haircuts of the men. He admitted he liked them too but thought it was because they had such thick black hair in comparison to our fine and thinning Celtic locks.
I remember my dad taking my brother and I for our haircuts when we were young.  I was in grade school. We'd walk three together up North Drive then Point Road to the old fashioned barber with the candy cane outside.  The men would talk.  It was a good time and we went every 2 or 4 weeks I recall. Little hair was cut off but much male camaraderie occurred.
I don't remember girlie magazines.  Our neighbourhood was Christian. Dad wouldn't take his sons to any place that didn't respect women. He loved our mother. The other men there never talked ill of their wives.  Instead they complained about the weather, sometimes talked about the government and yes, they talked about fishing.  Sports wasn't as important to my father who hunted and fished and loved the outdoors.
He'd take us to ball games and we'd sit close together watching pitchers and batters outside in the summer sun.  Mom would be along, of course. She'd never miss a baseball game though she most enjoyed watching us kids play hockey outdoors in winter.  Dad would pay for the hotdogs way up in the stands as we all watched the game, the adults chatting freely with others around them while my brother and I mostly talked about the game.
I only had to stop men in the street and ask them where a barber was by scissoring my hair with my fingers.  I was directed straight to this barbershop by the half dozen men I asked along the way.  I was glad too.  The experience was reminiscent of my time with my dad and brother even if it was in an upscale salon.  The barber who had little hair himself laughed when he'd cut off my hair pointing to the pile it made on the floor. I meowed and not only he laughed but so did the lady at the front till.  A good time. A fun time.  Having a hair cut.
On the television I think the soldiers were German and Russia and it was the story of Stalingrad.  I looked up as the scissors began and saw a hostage being taken, not knowing from which side, but lots of screams and bayonets.  I felt a small part of myself rebelled at the loss of the wild Scottish mane.  How could I join with Wallace and Bruce and attack the dastardly Englishmen if I had short hair looking more like them than us. But then I remembered the penultimate Scot, Sean Connery, was what I was aiming for. My long hair had been looking more Rastafarian than Scottish.  Now I liked the look of civilization and care that was appearing in the mirror.
The wrinkles always catch my eye when I'm in barbershops, looking at my face, wondering where they all came from, these scars of experience. The lines are more from laughter, smiling, curiosity and surprise than dour angry lines. I'm thankful for that.  But perhaps in the past, sitting in the barbers I didn't like to see myself aging.
Perhaps this time with Dr. Ney, my senior by at least a day or two, has been good for me. He is such a man to admire and I feel no shame with age in his presence. Indeed the community here venerate the old, so apparent in the way the elders are respected by the young men and women who walk with them, with evident interest and concern. I wonder now what it will be like when I return to Canada where the youth are celebrated because governments depend on inexperience to promote their sales of lies and opportunism.  I know I was so stupid as to want change for change's sake when I was young and lacked knowledge of the world and gratitude for all that I had and all my parents and their generation bequeathed to me.  I can forgive my rash stupidity only by saying I was young.  I still have the idealism I so admire but it's tempered now with discernment, I hope.
Oh well, I cut my hair.  Even now the song refrain from the Musical, Hair, passes through my lightened head.  Maybe my memory will improve with less weight and I'll be less hot headed. I've already noticed the pleasure in having a cool head. I'm enjoying the breezes knowing too I have hats to compensate. It was the same with beards when I was a northern flying doctor. In the arctic I loved the warmth my beards gave me but was glad to shave the bristles off in the south. I've not had a beard for some years now.
I wonder too if long hair isn't a hunters tactic for stilling the anger or fear of women who rage and run so easily these days.  Looking like them I'm less likely to spook them. I'll have to beware if my short hair doesn't attract their widespread assault on the male.  There's social camouflage is feminizing ones external features but now I've let go of the long hair cammo and am revealed as a greying haired old man, a survivor in the midst of other survivors. I've always found women my own age don't care what I look like so long as I treat them with the respect their years of service deserve.  I look younger with shorter hair, though join the ranks of my fellow older men. The long hair was only a symbol from my youth.
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