What's with the hair?
If I hear those four words just one more time, I swear I'm going to lose it.
For most of my adult life, I've had relatively short hair. Sure, there was that time in my late 30s when I grew it out, but for the most part, I've sported what could only be described as a fairly "traditional" male hairdo.
And then, late last summer, I decided to grow it longer. The reaction from those around me -- particularly among members of my church -- has been interesting, to say the least.
Seeing as how it's Easter Sunday and all, I've got a religious-type question: When Jesus returns, what do you suppose he'll look like?
I'm not trying to be a sacrilegious jerk here. I'm just honestly wondering. I mean, he was dressed in flowing robes and had long hair and a beard the first time around. Do you suppose he'll look like that? Or will he have a slightly more updated look -- clean-shaven, with a close-cropped haircut and a conservative suit and necktie, or maybe even a nice pair of blue jeans and a polo shirt -- to better relate to the people of the current time period?
I only ask this because I'm sensing a little religious blowback over my appearance these days. Call it "Confessions of a Neo-Hippie," but I guess I'm sort of rebelling against The Man. The Brother. Whatever.
I think it all started when a friend was told he might have risen further in the local church hierarchy if only he'd worn a white shirt on Sundays. Well, that was just about the silliest statement I'd ever heard, and it seriously made me want to start wearing the most colorful, loud shirts I could find.
But that really wasn't an option for me. I truly LIKE wearing white shirts. Mostly, because a white shirt goes with anything, so I can pretty much grab any old tie out of the closet and it's a match.
But if I were to mix it up with, say, a light blue shirt, given my odd little collection of ties, there's no telling what kind of fashion felony I'd be committing. No, until someone comes up with some sort of "Garanimals for Adults" self-dressing system, I need to stay away from shirts with hues and/or patterns.
So, realistically, if I was looking for some sort of rebellious act to commit, it just seemed easier to grow my hair.
People first started noticing the change last fall. As I was walking to my car in the parking lot after church one day, a neighbor told me I was beginning to look a little "Einstein-ish."
And I don't think he meant I was suddenly appearing more intelligent, either.
Pretty soon, the questions started rolling in. "Growing your hair, eh?" "Getting a little long there, isn't it?" "Barber hasn't made bail yet, huh?"
And the most frequently asked question: "What's with the hair?"
The topper came a month or so ago, when another member of the congregation walked up to me between church meetings, reached up and fingered the locks just behind my right ear, and said, "Dude! What's with the hair?"
He actually touched my hair. He touched my hair. At church, no less.
I believe I now have an inkling of how a pregnant woman feels when someone comes up and begins stroking her protruding belly.
Of course, there are the "supportive" ones -- people who come up to me and offer, helpfully, in a half-whisper, like it's some sort of state secret, "You know who else had long hair? Jesus had long hair." And then they smile and nod knowingly.
Look, I fully realize that my hair is out of control. I get it. In addition to being told I looked like Albert Einstein (minus the intelligent facial expression), my current hairdo has earned me comparisons to:
* Benjamin Franklin, just moments after he discovered electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm.
* Boxing promoter Don King -- if, that is, he were an extremely white Mormon guy.
* Dr. Emmett Brown, the time-traveling scientist from the 1985 feature film "Back to the Future."
* A Chia Pet inadvertently exposed to mutant-inducing levels of radiation.
* The world's largest talking hairball.
The other night, I had a dream about the end-of-days. As the sun rose in the east, trumpets blared and the clouds parted. Slowly, a brilliant-white figure descended from on high.
Although he was now sporting a missionary haircut and a dark gray suit, the loving face was unmistakable. He cast his eyes about the multitude gathered, and before long, his piercing gaze focused in my direction. He looked at me for what felt like an eternity, and then, in a kind and gentle voice, said:
"So ... what's with the hair?"
For just the right significant donation to a worthy charity, Mark Saal could be persuaded to cut it all off. Make him an offer at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.