Saturday, December 08, 2012

A Parting of Ways: Choosing a post-military hairstyle

I think I mentioned earlier that one of the more unique challenges of separating from the military and joining the civilian workforce is trying to determine a suitable hairstyle. Sure, it sounds superficial (and it is to a degree), but imagine if you spent the last decade under regulations governing how you wore your hair and now find yourself in a completely unregulated world. You might be surprised how hard it is to get a sense of what's appropriate from your co-workers, especially if they to were once governed by the same regulations...You end up being a young guy with "Old man hair."
"#1 on the sides, taper the back"
Now, enter the professional arena with its own grooming standards. I'm talking full suit & tie. A "high and tight" isn't going to cut it. Yeah, bad pun, but totally appropriate in this sense. Anyways, after growing my hair out since August (with two trims since then), I finally felt I had enough hair to work with to get a style that looked good on me. The second trim actually set me back from this goal a bit, but it's my own fault for thinking that a 53-year-old man might know what looks good right now. So, there I was, trying to grow out a haircut that didn't look good from the beginning and trying my best not to look like a grad student awkwardly trying to dress up for his first job interview.

While it's probably some sort of a faux pas since some people might go here for a little escape from reality and we brought it right to their armchair, Kacey and I both went in to Jon David Salon in Springfield with the kids. Yeah,  I'm sure serveral of the patrons were a bit dismayed at hearing a 4-month-old occasionally crying while they also pretended to ignore an active and curious 3-yr old, but the staff were great about accommodating us. My stylist was Katy and based on her tattoos (one of which was done with black-light ink), I knew I was going to get the edgy style I was hoping for. She did a great job.

Katy also taught me a couple of things that I never had to learn when my hair was short. 1) The difference between 'paste' and 'putty', and how they need to be applied to dry hair to work correctly. Apparently, paste is a little creamier (like, uh, toothpaste) and putty/mud is more like drywall spackle...both of which you need to warm in your hand before applying. It doesn't work right if you try to change the consistency with water. 2) I've been parting my hair on the wrong side for a very, very long time. It turns out that my hair grows opposite to the direction that I've been parting it since 1990. Yes, I actually looked up pictures of myself to find when my part last shifted. Now it feels like I'm looking in a mirror when I look at old photos of myself post-1990. And I also have to re-learn the muscle-memory related to brushing my hair, since it now sticks straight up if I try to brush it in the old, familiar direction.

So now I can check off that box on my To-do list:
[x] Look like a professional.
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