Because I've been letting the locks grow, people.
It started out of sheer indifference, but as my hair grew longer and I began noticing the twitches of envy it evoked from my ever-growing posse of balding acquaintances, I decided to really have a go at it. The result is the 'do I'm currently rocking: a pastiche of burly sideburns, dangly emo-bangs and a rat's nest of cascading ribbons of brown in the back. It's not so much a haircut as a celebration of life. Viewed in a certain light, it's capable of saying, "Snatch up a lacrosse stick, you little New England troubadour, there are hat tricks to be scored!" From a different angle, my mop screams, "If you don't play me whiny indie rock right now, you singer-songwriter tin god, I will fucking lose it!" Other times it just says, "Stop staring through my blinds immediately or I'll call the police." Regardless, it makes a statement.
And you know who my hair makes me look like? Jake Plummer. Don't believe me? Ask that little Asian boy at Chili's.
A few days before the holiday that the Christians like to call Le Festival du Jesus, my father informed my sisters and me that he would be snapping a portrait of us as a Christmas gift for our grandmother. At about the same time, he started hinting that it was high time for me to get a chop. Coming from my father, this was a shocking request. This is a man who in his wedding photo has hair down to his ass, hair far longer than my mother's, prompting Ozzy Osbourne comparisons from anyone who sees the pic. This is a man who used to cut my hair when I was a child, obliviously snipping off the tops of my ears and leaving the hair dainty and girl-like so that kids would beat me. This is a man who once kidnapped a long-locked Italian boy from a playground and kept him chained in our basement for seven months simply because he loved the way his hair looked. Okay, not that last one, but my dad really likes long hair. So his request baffled me. In response, I grew a beard. Now Granny has a picture of her two beaming granddaughters and some patchy-beard hobo in the middle.
Grandma doesn't know who Jake Plummer is. But that little Asian boy does.
That's why when my mom and I found ourselves eating at Chili's the other day -- we both occasionally suffer from Awesome Blossom Fever, or ABF -- we also found ourselves being ogled by a little Asian boy who could not take his eyes off What's So Funny. This made me nervous, reminded me of my four tours in 'Nam. But when my mom pointed out that the boy was staring at me because I looked so much like Jake Plummer, all tension disappeared: I wouldn't have to kill him. When we left, the little boy was leaving as well, and as our paths crossed in the waiting area, his jaw dropped and his head morphed into an all-out gawk. He started to speak, but I stared him into silence by making a football-throwing gesture that nearly brought him to his knees. As far as he knows, he did see Jake Plummer at Chili's that day; who was I to take that away from him?
But this was not the only such incident. The other night, a drunk, seemingly homeless man creepily leered from across a bar. This made me nervous, reminded me of my four tours in 'Nam. And when the man came up to talk to me, my tension soared.
"Hey, you're not Jake Plummer, are you?" he intoned through slurs.
"No," I said, instinctively grabbing my keys to serve as an emergency shiv should the need arise.
"Holy shit, that's funny," he said. "From across the bar, you looked just like Jake Plummer."
"Holy shit, that's funny," I thought. "From across the bar, you looked just like a drunk, homeless guy."
For the time being, I don't mind being mistaken for Jake. The man is on a hot streak, and what's wrong with being compared to a man like that? Plus, we actually have a lot in common. He's banging a cheerleader and leading an NFL team to one of its best seasons in recent history. On the Internet, I'm doing both those things, too. But if the situation should head south, I'll jump ship quicker than a Qwest stockholder, maybe shave my head or something. Of course, then everyone will think I look like Rod Smith.