A Freshman Easter/The Bad Haircut

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It is perhaps unfortunate that I grew up in a family with no real strong Easter traditions. Oh sure, we’d decorate the Easter eggs with toxic store-bought dye, and we’d wake up Easter morning to find baskets containing about three pieces of candy and 7,000 strands of that annoying plastic “grass,” which my mom would wind up pulling out of the vacuum cleaner every day until Halloween, and we’d have ham for dinner, but that’s about it. I certainly understood and appreciated the religious significance of Easter, but tradition-wise, it didn’t hold much for me.

What this means is that I have few vivid Easter memories, particularly since I’ve been away from home and am doing even less in the tradition department.

I only have one real college Easter memory, and it’s Easter 1993. I was a freshman living in Deseret Towers (motto: “Enjoy the Convenience of Our Two Elevators, One of Which is Not Working”), and as such I did a lot of freshman-type things. I ran past the statue of Brigham Young to see if there really is an optical illusion of him wiggling his legs (answer: no); I helped fill a friend’s dorm room from floor to ceiling with crumpled-up newspaper; I successfully dared a guy to run around naked on another floor of the dorm. I was gloriously and unabashedly a freshman.

Unfortunately, being a freshman also meant not having any money, so I never got a haircut. Haircuts cost money, you know. But around springtime, I was getting desperate, and I learned of a fellow who lived one floor above me who said he would cut people’s hair. We’ll call him Bob (not his real name), and while I didn’t really know him, I agreed to let him cut my hair. This turned out to be the worst decision that anyone has ever made in the history of mankind.

There were many warning signs that I should have seen. First of all, it was a warm spring day, so Bob chose to take his shirt off when he cut my hair. Never go to a shirtless barber, that’s my new haircut rule.

Second, I observed that Bob had a Band-Aid on one of his fingers, having recently cut himself with his own scissors. Never go to a shirtless barber who cuts his own fingers, that’s the corollary to my haircut rule.

When it was all over, my head looked like it had been attacked by something. I left. I didn’t know what to do. I wandered the gray city streets, stumbling from alley to alley, a hat on my head and a coat pulled up over my face. I searched for meaning in my life. I had some ice cream. Finally I decided: I would shave my head and start over! It would be like repentance. You make a mistake, it screws everything up, you repent and SWISH! The slate is wiped clean, and you begin anew.

My head would be like my soul, damaged by the careless haircutting of sin, and then washed clean by the clippers of repentance and the sideburn trimmers of forgiveness. My head would be a new man.

Excited over my new-found optimism, I hurried back to the dorms and asked Bob if I could borrow his clippers. He probably wondered what for, but I didn’t give him time to ask many questions. I enlisted the aid of my friends, who, as good friends always are, were more than willing to help me on the long, painful road back to full fellowship in the world of hair. They took turns shaving various parts of my skull, until we had developed quite a nice Mohawk.

Then we had an idea: Let’s keep the Mohawk for a while and frighten people with it. I thought this was a fine idea. We cleaned it up and made it look nice, and then we dressed me up in a leather jacket, no shirt, blue jeans, and some cool-looking little round glasses. We called the girls’ dorm and told them to come downstairs and see me. They gave me the sort of squeal-filled shock/admiration that freshman men so desperately covet. It was GREAT.

There was talk of leaving the Mohawk, at least for a couple days. But aside from the whole Honor Code thing, the next day was Sunday, and it was Easter, and I was speaking in Sacrament Meeting. So we shaved the whole head and made me look at least somewhat presentable. I have this widow’s peak which normally makes me look like I’m going bald, but when my head is shaved, it just looks like a cool V down my forehead.

This all has little to do with Easter, except that it happened at Eastertime, but it also provides a weird parable about repentance. In the interest of convenience and taking the easy way out, I made a serious error in judgment and let some bozo cut my hair, knowing full well what the consequences might be. And sure enough, I regretted it. I looked and felt foolish, moreso than usual, and I felt like everyone in the world was looking at me, like everyone knew what I had done. But then I overcame the problem by starting over again. I shaved my head, getting rid of all evidence of the mistake, and within a few months, my hair was back to normal. Today you wouldn’t know that the bad haircut had ever happened, except that I keep talking about it.

I won’t try to turn this into a New Era article by stretching the religious parallels any further. Let’s just say I felt better that Easter with no hair than I would have felt with damaged hair, and the basket of candy and plastic grass my mom sent me made everything allllll better.

I make references in this column to several things I did as a freshman, many of which I wrote about elsewhere. To wit: Filling a guy's room with newspaper; daring a guy to run around naked (see also this column); and getting that legendary bad haircut.

The Daily Universe frequently publishes "special sections" along with the regular paper. Sometimes they're separate tabloid-size editions that get inserted in the paper; other times, they're just a lot of articles on a certain theme that get mixed in with the real news. Either way, they are universally detested by Universe personnel. Everyone has to write something, and it's never anything good -- just repetitious fluff. (The advertisers love buying space in special sections, though, which is why we keep doing them.)

Anyway, this column was written for the Easter special section. Easter is certainly a subject that deserves special attention, especially at a religious school -- but an entire section? How much is there to say about Easter? I was assigned the topic of "college Easter traditions," but you'll notice how I quickly deflected that subject by mentioning that a) I didn't have any Easter traditions at home, and b) I certainly hadn't started any new ones since being at school. I figured if I wrote enough special sections articles that didn't make any sense and were totally irrelevant, they'd quit making me write them. (I was wrong, by the way.)

I don't find this column all that funny, and it's very, very strange. But I kind of like it for its oddness and quirkiness. I never meant any offense, of course, with the repentance/haircut analogy, but the paragraph starting with "My head would be like my soul" was cut and not published in the paper. (Frankly, I was surprised they printed ANY of it in the paper, just because it was so random.)

The New Era is the LDS Church's magazine for teenagers, and my reference to it at the end was an inside joke to myself: I HAD in fact published several articles in that magazine in which I related personal anecdotes and found religious parallels to them.

We took a picture of me with the Mohawk, and it appears on the cover of "Snide Remarks II: Electric Boogaloo." Now you know.

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