Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Haircut Como Park Junior High School

The Haircut
 Como Park Junior High School

((A Minnesota Story) (1962-’63))

There was a time in my life when I came near fighting the whole school operate, at Como Park Junior High School, 1962 thru 1963; in consequence, a number of things took place, for a boy of fifteen-years old (or so it seemed at the time); I had a pretty stonewalled reputation with them. How vividly I remember those days when I told—Mr. Keizer, our physical-education teacher, I wasn’t going to get a  haircut, just to accommodate him, who did he think he was. I told him he liked his hair short, so be it, and I liked my hair long: that didn’t go over very well. He had called me into his little glass office several times on this matter. To me it was a wet cold issue, and I wasn’t going to be persuaded! And I was one of his favorites in cross-country running, I was one of the four who won the school the state championship on the relay-run. We all got letters, I threw mine in the trash can. I was a rebel I suppose, they tracked me at running 30-miles per hour.
       Well, the hair issue got to be a bigger issue in time, and one day while standing in the lunch line, Mr. Keizer gave me an uppercut into my belly, in front of all the kids standing in line, and it hurt like hell!  But I’d not give him the privilege of seeing me fold over, I said, “Is that all you got,” and he was muscular. Then I think he came to his senses, as if something had come into the air of the place, where we stood, a kind of weariness came over him, and an ugliness from the bystanders, asking me “Are you Okay?”  I had to stand up straight from sagging, get back my full breath, my gut was hurting.
       The following day he called me into his office again, apologized. I told him straight to his face: that punch isn’t going to get me to cut my hair. I wanted to laugh in his empty face when I said that, but the apology was an unexpected moment, and for him I think he found it difficult to say anything more, but he did say, “If you want you can take a good punch into my stomach.”
       I simply turnabout and walked out of his office, didn’t say a word.
       This wasn’t the end of the scrawled out issue. The Vice Principle (whom I knew well because of a fight with Dan Weber in the gym one afternoon, sponsored by none other than the Vice Principle) called me out of the lunch line to talk to me, and this time I was ready to fight back if a punch came, I mean, the last one was a Sunday-punch, as we called them in our neighborhood, not seeing it coming.  And I didn’t go home crying to my mother, saying I got punched in the guts, she’d had said, “Go punch him back!”  So, as I was about to say, the Vice Principle called me over to where he stood about fifteen feet from the lunch line, “When Chick are you going to get a haircut?”
       That was a good question, I hadn’t thought about it. Just why I didn’t I’ve never quite figured it out. And I nodded my head right to left, said, “Why’s everyone making such a big fuss out of this?”
       “Because,” he replied, “everyone is looking at you, and we don’t look as if we are in charge, matter of fact it has turned into whether we have a consistent protocol with all our students.”
       Then I came up with a determined look not to be defeated in this and said as if I was Aristotle, or Plato, thinking I had the answer, “Jesus Christ had long hair, if he can have long hair why shouldn’t I?”
       He hesitated and thought a moment, and then the darkness had come and the rebuking came with it, but it came back to me the same way I gave it, like a boomerang:  “If you can walk on water Mr. Chick Evens, you can have your hair as long as you want!” he said.   
       Well, what can you say to that?  I got my haircut the following day; I mean I didn’t even try to think of what to say beyond that.  I mean I was facing God now, as if facing him alone, thus in a strange confidential way, his own frustrated desires mostly, changed my outwardly ordained stubbornness.