Boomer nights and domes

bradbaldThe other night we were sitting on a porch at another 60th birthday. These days the Big One is almost as common as that other rite of passage, funerals. It’s as if we party one minute and exit the next. On this warm night the other hallmark of our age was that we were sitting. In another room ’60s rock beckoned, reminding us that once, it was only the old folks who sat and watched while we danced…

We began chatting to a shy woman, moderate in dress, her every viewpoint tailored the same way. But not long after we met, she turned to the shaven-headed boomers standing in a group next to us and her face turned sour.

“I’m so over bald men” she said shaking her head. Coming from her it was as if she had just screamed.

Um… I’m bald.

“Yes, but not shaven” she said.

No – Nature got there first.

“Once I thought it was so cool you know. Now look at them – they’re everywhere”.

She was right. All around us boomer domes gleamed here and there in the strobe lights. Was it one last fashion fling? Or in this their late summer was it a follicular escape from looking… old? It’s fashionable – yet not. In the contradictions of   fashions this trend might – like all the others before it – be wrapped in conformity.

Early boomers grew up with fashion – and an insistence on uniformity. When it came to hair, we graduated from short-back-and-sides which, appropriately enough in an agricultural society, mimicked shorn sheep. When rock and roll arrived we dared to get crew cuts; we curled our lips at the world and flicked up our collars in what now looks like comic defiance.

Following Elvis, we fashioned pompadours, kiss-curls and Ducks’ Arses with the help of Brylcreem. And from then it was an easy transition to Beatle mop-tops and, as the counter-culture went mainstream, with shoulder length hair. Was Hair the musical, the highpoint of all this preening?

For not long after, perhaps between marriages, children and mortgages and jobs, hair thinned or disappeared. And then… a reprieve from rappers. Bald versus shaven and trendy? No contest.

But that was years ago. The woman on he porch may be right. The only problem with so many shaven heads is not that they’re out of fashion – it’s that they resemble that terminal fashion – skulls.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.