Growing up my greatest desire in life was to have long hair. I didn’t care about fame or fortune. I didn’t dream about power or prominence. I just wanted long, flowing locks. Back then, long hair stood for something important. It stood for rock and roll.
When grown-ups spotted a man with long hair they would inevitably think of him as a derelict or remark that he looked like a girl. Not me. I saw a rebel. I saw a free thinker. I saw the man that I wanted to become.
By the turn of the decade (the decade being the 1980s) rock and roll was under assault. Punk, disco and new wave conspired to make rock and roll seem dated and irrelevant. But for us, the last generation raised on The Beatles and the Stones, on Zeppelin and the Who, we still held on to the dream. We wanted to live the rock and roll lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Sure, sex wasn’t happening and allergy shots were the drugs of choice, but we could still rock.
And nothing said rock and roll more than long hair.
Once I was old enough to throw off the shackles of my mother’s stylistic tendencies – she who seemed to favor the Prince Valiant haircut and polyester jumpsuits for her boys – I knew that I would immediately commence OPERATION: LONG HAIR. I figured that I’d hit shoulder-length by 15 and Crystal Gayle by graduation.
And then a funny, horrible thing happened. My hair, finally given the chance to grow DOWN decided to grow OUT. It was clear that I had the curse of our people – the dreaded Jewfro.
I should have known better. One of our favorite family stories involved a young Woodstock-era uncle, a bottle of hair relaxer and some panty hose. What a fool I was to think that I could break the curse and achieve the long hair. Nope, the closest that I would come to being rock and roll was Art Garfunkle.
In other words, not very rock and roll at all.
As my Jewfro grew I grew to resent it more and more. Every mousse, gel and random cream that I found in my father’s vanity failed to tame the beast. All of my academic, athletic and romantic failures could be traced back to that accursed Jewfro. That goddamn chia pet on top of my skull was the bane of my existence.
Luckily, over time I began to accept my lot in life. Sure, I’d have moments of delusion where I’d try to grow my hair out and convince myself that it looked good, or I’d get angry at it and cut it too short. But time has a way of softening the hurts of life and I began to embrace the ironic use of facial hair to compensate for my inability to do anything even remotely cool with my hair.
Of course, time also has a way of teaching you painful lessons, and as my forehead continues to grow and my hair line continues to shrink, I’ve begun to miss that old Jewfro. We sure had some good times together. And while long hair is clearly better than a Jewfro, a sweet Jewfro is assuredly better than being bald.
So, some advice to our young male readers: don’t hate your Jewfro. Celebrate it. Love it. Revel in it. Because, as the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
And besides, Bob Dylan has always sported an amazing Jewfro, and you can’t get any more rock and roll than that.