MY FRIEND Bill and I -- a couple of card-carrying, zTC 30-something liberal types -- were chatting on a downtown corner the other day.
Offhandedly, Bill remarked that each of us could use a haircut. Which prompted him to ask me, "Have you noticed that more guys seem to be letting their hair get longer than usual? Since the war began?"
And all this time I thought I was the only one picking up on this seeming phenomenon of more men with more
hair since the start of the Persian Gulf war.
OK, so I haven't put this observation to any rigorous tests. But it is something -- a sociological mini-blip -- that has caught and held my attention in recent days.
Let me first explain my terminology. By "more hair," I don't mean shoulder-length locks a la Jon Bon Jovi or Tiny Tim. After all, how much can a guy's hair grow in the two weeks since the first sorties over Baghdad? What I'm referring to is a slight shagginess that might not have survived a barber's clippers if not for the clash with Saddam Insane.
Maybe we're too preoccupied watching CNN or reading the newspapers to squeeze in an appointment at Dino's Unisex Den of Tonsorial Delights. Or just maybe, perhaps even unconsciously, we're reverting to greener days, when we unfurled our hair as a way of protesting the hostilities in Southeast Asia. (For those too young or hazy-minded to remember that war, might I recommend a retrospective of Oliver Stone films on video?)
We had other forms of protest in the late '60s and early '70s. Some marched, some wore buttons and armbands, some sat in. And almost all of us filled our heads with hair.
These days, now that we're 30-somethings, a lot of us don't have the energy or the inclination or the time (especially the time) to join the movement against the war. We're too busy with jobs, kids, community work and so on.
Perhaps to feel a small part of the protest, we go shaggy. It may not be much, but a somewhat unkempt, collar-brushing mop says, "Look, like, I support our guys and gals in the gulf and all, but, um, I don't think I'm as keen on this war as some other people seem to be."
Two decades ago, our long hair said something more unprintable about war. That time seems ages ago. Back then, we were the nation's angry children. Now we're raising children of our own.
But with a new war and a new anti-war movement, those of us near the rear of the home front can still do one small thing to register our opposition to all the violence and waste. We can let our hair go longer. Or at least longish.
To some of us, a hair's difference can make a difference.
Patrick Ercolano is a member of the Evening Sun staff.