Sunday, January 07, 2007

new year, new hair.

It’s New Year time once again. Amid the traditional kickoff of everyone hurrying to write down resolutions and fulfilling (at least trying to) some of them throughout the year – something else has been getting quite more than its fair share of attention lately: my hair.

The billion-something strands on my head, made larger than life with this first 2007 post. And just because I had a haircut two weeks before fireworks season officially climaxed and the clock chimed the noisiest hour anywhere. Days after the revelry when classes resumed, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I strode inside the lecture room for the first time with someone exclaiming, “New hair!”

More or less, “new” is a passable adjective. If I guessed right, everyone around me would have already tired their eyes out with the green, green grass of old, the one I had since I was a tot: short and neatly-clipped, poking straight out like rays of porcupine quills if I failed to get myself a decent trim in the time being. Not to say that the style perfectly stuck it out through the years, what with the slight change of barbers I had been getting recently – but you still get the overall picture. The first barber I had, the old one whom my grandfather faithfully adhered to and who took care of all the boys in our family, has already passed away. Then there was one near our store back home who did the job more than satisfactorily, and now here I am in Manila where I finally learned what I wanted: the term is “ crew cut.” You want crew cut? You get crew cut. Just make sure it’s done well. And better start praying the barber doesn’t chop your ear off by accident while you cooperate at best by staying as motionless as possible on your seat.

I suppose that like any other haircut, having short hair has both its pros and cons. The obvious advantage is that you readily adhere to the law of the land – especially when you’re studying in a school where long, matted hair is an absolute taboo, the necessity all the more heightened when I had my CAT instruction in fourth year. But upon entering college where suaveness takes on a new definition and freedom of expression is hereby advocated, things began to roll differently. Your hair inadvertently reflects your personality and preference.

“It’s time for a new look,” some of my classmates say. And a few do so with matching apologetic expressions as if suggesting the idea that “You could certainly do better.” After all, the billion-something strands on your head spell a big deal. More often than not, it’s the first thing people notice when they meet you, or one of the criteria being considered when they evaluate your grooming and personal appearance. How else could bald fellows with greasy unkempt sideburns become such popular objects of laughing stock?

Indeed, the importance of hair cannot be simply undermined. Even the English language affirms its rightful significance with the common idioms “missed by a hair” (a really frustrating thing to happen) and “let your hair down” (show those lovely tresses and let people know you are relaxed.) Many times over, I have seen it the subject of disputes and disagreements, of desolation and despair. That’s not even counting the limitless, and sometimes wild, measures and risks people are willing to take just to be able to bask in the splendor of having fabulous hair.

Which brings me to a particularly memorable incident that took place during one of those times that I had begun to sprout the porcupine-like growths owing to a supposedly delayed session to the barber. When it comes to matters like these, my mom remains my number one critic. She’s the first to comment on how my mane is already growing way too long for my own good, to be followed by a series of reminders that’d go on one after another, to march down the barber’s and “fix the problem” once and for all. It could’ve been that she has finally grown exasperated from her endless recaps that she just let me in on a piece of the day’s paper – the horoscope page – with Sagittarius (my sign) bearing the words: “Today, your hair is your crowning glory.”

Well, I don’t exactly believe in horoscopes – let alone read them – but that one somehow did the trick. And voila, it proved an effective antidote to finally get me moving on my two legs and have a nice little rendezvous with the immortal comb and scissors.

So I am now sporting a new set of hair. Not much different from the old one but somewhat longer, a more refined and laidback modification. The shooting porcupine sparks of the past have started to fade out, replaced this time by bangs that run forward and spill to the sides. Perhaps that’s just the way I wanted it to be: serving a practical purpose – lest I find myself trapped in a spate of exams with no time to spare and I still wanted to look decent. My answer to the lure of hair dyes and funky looks remains a vehement no – unless along the way I decided to abandon my pursuit in the medical field and pick up a career as a rock star instead. And funnily, they do say the new mop on my head makes me look…younger.

Thinking it over in accordance with the season leads me to believe that having new hair may also come to symbolize a new start, a new leaf. Each snip of hair cut off paves the way for new strands to grow and take their place, much like how we could always mend our crooked ways and change for the better. New Year is resolution time, after all.