Monday, December 05, 2005

Hello again

Apologies for blog silence, but we were in Birmingham, Ala. for the wedding of my brother and the lovely Kathryn. I could talk for hours about Birmingham culture, about Southern culture, but just one observation for now:

Ashton Kutcher and others may have re-popularized the bulky men's haircut known as the shag, but in dear old Dixie it never went away. Shaggy locks were favored by a certain kind of affluent, Ralph Lauren-wearing boy when I was a lad in the South 20 years ago, and I have noticed on subsequent trips back, including this one, that the look remains popular with young Southern men.

But I veer headlong toward my very early mid-30s, so naturally I also pay attention to the choices of men my age. And yesterday morning -- Sunday morning -- I had a key insight about Southern men's hair. It came at a Starbucks in the tony Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook. As I was getting coffee, I noticed what was, apparently, a post-church coffee date. A woman in a dress and a man in a tan suit, both about my age, were sitting and talking amiably. Even on this side of 30 the man retained his Southern preppy boy shag, but as I looked it dawned on me: that is not a shag. That is helmet hair. (Helmet hair looks like this, in case you didn't know.)

And a realization came to me in a flash: unchecked, the young Southern man's shag becomes the older Southern man's helmet hair. This man was the proof. I nudged Ereck and, gesturing to the man with my eyes, reported my discovery. "You've found the missing link," observed my swain.

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