Eugene Buchanan: Business up front, party in the back
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As emcee of December’s Best of the Boat awards, I felt a special kinship to Best Mullet winner Will Cheesebro; I’d been sporting my own version of the hockey hairdo for the past few weeks and was now displaying the coiffed squirrel pelt on stage.
Call it what you want … Canadian Passport, El Camino, Kentucky Waterfall, Missouri Compromise, Neckwarmer, Ranchero, Achy-breaky-bad-mistakey, Soccer Rocker, Tennessee Tophat, what have you. When you got it, you have to embrace it and flaunt the flow.
In a way, it was apropos for the age-old business-up-front-party-in-the-back cliché. In front of me was the crowd, and behind me was the beer.
The mudflap happened when my oldest daughter Brooke came home from college for Thanksgiving and noticed how long my hair was.
“Dad, you got some long locks,” she said. “It looks like a mullet.”
It wasn’t one really, but she was right. I had let it go for a hair too long.
That’s when the light bulb hit.
“I’ll show you a mullet,” I thought, taking advantage of a father’s God-given right — and duty — to embarrass his kids. How could I let this chance pass me up?
So the next day, I paid a visit to Best of the Boat winner 10th Street Barber. A tad nervously, I said, “Go ahead and cut the top and sides, but leave it long in back.” Then I explained I was doing it to freak out my daughter, not for fashion, and that I’d be back to restore it to normal a week later.
My stylist happily obliged, stifling any judgment. I’m sure she’s heard weirder requests.
“I’ve given these to high school kids but never to someone your age,” she said, not necessarily earning my favor.
Snip, snip, clip, clip, she went, sending locks to the floor. When she held up the mirror, especially the little one showing the back, I saw a new me: A Harley-riding, hockey-playing, chick-drawing beefcake. And I walked out the door with not only a new hairstyle but a new swagger.
Later that night, while I was putting on my skates to help coach hockey practice, my youngest daughter came out of the locker room and noticed it quickly.
“Guys!” she yelled, rushing back into the locker room. “My dad has a mullet!”
Faster than a speeding slapshot, a gaggle of girls then came piling out, surrounding me with their iPhones while taking videos and photos for Snipchat, Mulletgram, FollicleBook and whatever other apps they used to blast it out into the socialsphere. On the ice, I flicked my flow to fellow coach Andy Picking, who sports a real one and wears it well. I also wore it with pride at work the next day, prompting a few comments from my younger co-workers.
At my first beer-league hockey game later that week, I announced in the locker room that I was keeping it until we won a game. Maybe that would give everyone some incentive. But we lost 12-1, which I can only attribute to the Good Lord Above telling me something: I was meant to have it.
For some reason, it also seemed to unleash the inner rebel in me. I got a penalty in that night’s game, and while it kept my neck warm skiing, I also got “reprimanded” by Steamboat Ski Patrol for a minor infringement. I was even pulled over by a cop for having a blinker out. Yessiree, I was bad to the bone.
I kept it longer than I thought I would, especially for someone at the ripe age of 55. And I wrestled with keeping it for emceeing the Best of the Boat awards on stage that night. But I cowboyed-up and did, if nothing else, to incorporate it into my speech and commiserate with Cheesebro.
I didn’t give it up until just before Brooke came back for Christmas, after enduring four whole weeks of my alter-ego. That’s when I finally went back into the barber, having to find that passage back to the place I was before.
“Oh, you’re back,” my stylist enthused. “That was longer than I thought you’d last. I was wondering when you’d come in again.”
With that, she snip, snipped and clip, clipped away as I watched my past month’s persona fall to the floor to get sucked into the custom vacuum drains beneath the counters. It took longer than I thought to feather it all and get it back to a short-cropped, more conservative coif.
And she took off way more than I expected. This time, when she held the mirror up, I looked completely different. George Clooney, I like to think, instead of George Thorogood.
While the back of my neck was now markedly colder, my reception back at home was warmer once my daughter returned with two college friends in tow. I was now a respectful Ward Cleaver instead of Beaver.
Which begs the question, will I try it again? Or maybe a man bun next time? Perhaps … but I guess I’ll just have to — drum roll, please — mullet over.
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