Before my senior year of high school, I started rebelling. I grew my hair long, pierced my ears, and wore silver-tipped boots with straps around the sides. (A note: I grew up in the eighties; these expressions may be tame by today’s standards, but they caused a raucous then). At the time, I was serving as the student body president, and my appearance wasn’t looked upon with favor. The principal and vice-principal (also my tennis coach) criticized me heavily. I got into dozens of arguments with my parents.
Prior to graduation, at the urging of my mother, I drove to the hair salon to get my hair trimmed—“just a trim, not a cut,” she implored. It was all one length down to my shoulders (like Bono’s during “The Joshua Tree” era), and had taken me a year to grow it that way.
My hair stylist was a young woman named Marissa. I’d been going to her for years; we laughed and joked with each other, and I thought she was kind of attractive. My mom was also friends with Marissa and (what I didn’t know) had called Marissa while I was driving there and instructed her to cut it off—to give me a “normal man’s” cut.
At the salon, Marissa greeted me warmly, asking, “What are we going to do today?”
“A trim,” I answered. “Just to get rid of the split ends.”
“Okay,” Marissa agreed. She washed my hair and led me into the cutting room, where she tied an apron around my neck.
“Just a trim,” I reminded her. “Nothing more.”
Seated in the chair, I shut my eyes, as I often do when having my hair cut, then heard a loud shink of the scissors. I opened my eyes, looked into the mirror, and realized what had happened: she’d lopped several inches from the front.
Horrified (and very pissed), I cursed at Marissa, threw off the apron, stormed out the door and drove away, squealing my tires in the parking lot. Unfortunately, some of my mom’s friends were at the salon to see it; by the time I got home, my mom was standing on the porch with a really, REALLY mad look on her face. We shouted at each other for several minutes then I stepped back into the car and drove away, not returning until later that night.
She and I didn’t speak for a couple of days. I got grounded, and the shink of those scissors left me with a bad (I mean bad) mullet that I kept for the remainder of my high school career.
I can tell these things without fear of embarrassing my parents because we’ve become close friends. We only got that way, however, by letting go of the things that don’t really matter. (A cool fact about my parents: they are now leading an interracial Bible study; it’s the first I can remember in my hometown.)
My life hasn’t followed the usual model—go to college, start a career, get married, buy a house, have kids, become a grandparent. I moved to Seattle after college to play in rock bands then moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Why? It’s what I wanted to do.
If I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I don’t care what anyone else thinks. It’s not about hair length, color, or style; piercing or no piercings; holes in your jeans or no holes; whether you wear Converse, Vans, or Florsheims. It’s about loving others and loving God.
And nothing else matters.